In any case, even though my garden and cooking/recipe development have also been neglected for a while, I simply can't resist the opportunity to cook up some preserves - especially when offered some Black Doris plums from cousin Sue's tree!
They were excess to requirements for her, but I was thinking plum paste: jam: chutney: bottled fruit; and sauce. In the end I only got to the sauce, but I did have a flash of inspiration while I was thinking about it, and am really pleased with the flavour - simple to make, and the mint does add zing.
Black Doris plums make wonderful preserves, but other red-fleshed plums such as Omega and Satsuma are also very good (as well as delicious eaten fresh).
Black Plum & Mint Sauce
Black Doris plums are superb in this recipe, but any red-fleshed plum will work; they can be frozen if you don’t have time to make the sauce at the time of picking. Infused with mint, sumac and chilli, this sauce is one you’ll wish you’d made more of.
There is no need to cut and stone the plums before cooking, just cook whole and squish them as they soften, as the mixture is sieved before bottling.
Commercially prepared ginger and garlic saves a lot of time and makes no discernable difference to the flavour.
Makes 9 -10 x 400g jars
3kg Black Doris plums, or any red fleshed plum
700g onions, peeled and sliced
5 cups malt vinegar
½ cup thick mint sauce*
2 cinnamon quills
4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp sumac
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp chilli powder
2 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger
2 Tbsp peeled and minced or finely chopped garlic
Place all the ingredients in a jam pan or very large pot, bring to simmer point and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes, until the plums are very soft and breaking up. Squish some with a wooden spoon to distribute the flavor into the flesh during this cooking time.
Pour the mixture through a colander into a large bowl to catch the juice. Then press the solids (discard the cinnamon sticks) in the colander through a sieve and add to the juice. This will have to be done in several lots. Discard the pips and other solids left in the sieve.
Transfer the plum juice and puree into a large pot and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce is lightly thickened – it will thicken a little more as it cools.
Pour into hot, sterilized jars or bottles and screw on hot, sterilized lids/corks.
*The commercial bottled kind works fine.