Chinese Plum Sauce

Canning Chinese Plum Sauce

The last of our Santa Rosa plums. It was a very good year!

Our Santa Rosa Plum tree outdid itself this year.  I have canned a batch of crockpot plum butter and we have 12 quarts of organic plum juice all put up and ready for the winter.  I love plum cobblers and we have had quite a few, but geeze louise, I shouldn’t be eating them every night!  I could, but I shouldn’t. 😀

So, I searched my canning books and right there, in my handy dandy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, was a recipe for Chinese Plum Sauce! Perfect. This is the stuff that you slather on a pork loin or ribs, and it makes that sweet, tangy, sticky crust.  MMmmm…

Then, I found a couple more recipes, almost the same, just tweaked a bit.  So, I decided to follow several recipes (the main ingredients were all the same) but tweak the spices just a bit to suit my taste.

Dearest Hubby went out and picked the last of the plums off the tree for me.

Thank God.

No really… I did thank God that the plums are finally done! This recipe takes 10 cups of pitted plums, so it was a winner when it came to using up a lot of them.

Bottling Chinese Plum Sauce

A little over 8 cups of finely chopped (in the food processor) Santa Rosa plums.

Of course, the first thing to do is wash the plums.  The recipe calls for ten cups of finely chopped pitted plums.  I ran mine through the food processor – after pitting of course!  It’s just faster this way and you don’t lose any of the juice that you might lose if you were to manually chop them up on a cutting board. Although I had much more than the ten cups of plums needed to start with, these were the last of the year and so several of them had worms inside or bird peckings, so I tossed those.  I ended up with just a little over nine cups, about 2/3 of a cup less than the recipe called for, but I went ahead with the sauce anyway!  Usually it isn’t good to change a tried and true and safe canning recipe, but I knew that with the amount of acid (1 cup of vinegar) that was added to the plums, the sauce would be more than safe.

Jarring Plum Sauce

First, all of the ingredients for the sauce, except the plums, were brought to a boil on the stove. This had a very, spicy, pungent, vinegar smell.

All of the ingredients were added to a large pot, brought to a boil, and then the plums were tossed in.  This was all allowed to boil for about 2 hours – until it was thick and syrupy.  The smell was amazing!  It was sweet and sour at the same time, but had just a little hint of a spicy, peppery scent also. While boiling down, the peppers and onions seemed to just melt into the sauce, so it became very smooth and appetizing looking. You can see in the picture below how it sticks to the side of the pot.  Well – fair warning – it sticks to the bottom of the pan, also!  For the first hour or so, stirring every 10 minutes seemed to be just fine.  But after a while, when the sauce is reducing and getting thick, you need to stir more often.  During the last 15 minutes or so, I actually stood over the pot and kept the sauce moving.  Constantly.

It was worth it.

Canning Plum Sauce

After about two hours, the sauce was thick and syrupy, and the smell was mouth-watering!

The recipe said it would make four pint jars, but I opted to use half-pint jars instead, so I ended up with eight half-pint jars.  I chose the smaller size because it seemed a bit more realistic in terms of using sauce. Especially since it’s just me and my hubby now.  The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or so, as long as you don’t contaminate it by dipping your  basting brush back into the jar after you have based the raw pork.  So, but by using the smaller jars I figured there would be less chance of waste.

When it comes to canning the sauce, although there are onions, garlic and peppers in the recipe, there is also a good amount of vinegar (1 cup), so this recipe is fine for the waterbath canner.  Even though I used smaller jars, I went ahead and left them in the waterbath canner for the full 20 minutes, as I figured it couldn’t hurt (it’s a sauce, no worries about it becoming mushy) and I would rather be more safe than sorry.

How to bottle Chinese Plum Sauce

This recipe made eight half-pints of delicious sauce .

As usual, I couldn’t wait to try some!  We had a pork loin roast just hanging out in the freezer, minding it’s own business – so the next morning I put it in the refrigerator in a bowl swimming in a jar of the plum sauce.  As the pork loin thawed, it was marinated with the plum sauce!  That evening, I grilled the pork loin “low and slow”, adding more sauce every time the loin was turned.  After almost an hour, this is what I ended up with:

Jarring Chinese Plum Sauce

Pork Loin Roast Grilled with Chinese Plum Sauce

It is so good!  The sauce coated the juicy pork loin with a sticky, carmelized sugar glaze that was out of this world good!  This recipe is a keeper!

EDITOR”S NOTE:  Where it says you need 10 cups of finely chopped, pitted prunes – it should say pitted plums!  

Chinese Plum Sauce

Maybe next year I should make two batches of this wonderful sauce!

Now I wish I had more plums! 😀

 

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Canning Organic Plum Juice

My favorite things to can are fruit.  I love eating home canned fruit over cottage cheese, pies from my canned fruit pie fillings on a cold winter day, slathering fruit jellies and jams on my toast, or drinking fruit juice over ice, in smoothies or as a sweetener in tea!  I know my fruit comes from organic sources (usually my own trees or bushes) and if I add a sweetener I add very little organic sugar or honey, so the food is as healthy as possible.How to can fruit juice Our Santa Rosa Plum tree always seems to produce more plums than we can consume. Between making Plum Butter, Plum Cobbler, Plum jelly and Plum Sauce, I still can’t use up all the plums. And now my neighbors pretend they aren’t home anymore when we walk up with yet another bag of plums! 😉

So, with all the extra plums this year, I decided to make some sunny plum juice and can it with very little sugar. Canning juiced plums

I inherited an Oster Juicer from my father a few years ago.  I don’t really think he ever used it, but he inherited the juicer from his mother, who used it a lot!  The juicer is old (1980’s) but still works very well.  Rather than cook the plums to make them release all the juice, I decided to try using the juicer.

How to can plum juiceDear hubby Ray volunteered (yes, yes he did!) to help wash and pit the plums, while I fed them through the juicer.  This machine lets a lot of the pulp through, along with the juice, which I don’t mind.  After all, that’s where all of the fiber is! We worked in tandem, Ray pitting and me juicing, until we had enough juice to fill five quart jars plus some.  Once we got a rhythm going, it didn’t take long. After we had all the juice we wanted for this batch, I added 1 teaspoon of organic sugar for each quart (Santa Rosa Plums can be quite tart), then heated the juice up on the stove until it reached 180 degrees, and kept it at that temperature for 5 minutes. This pasteurizes the juice and makes sure there aren’t any harmful pathogens in the juice. Don’t boil the juice – that’s not necessary and breaks down too many of the nutrients! Also, I was using the hot pack method (which is the safest when canning juice) and so I needed the juice to be hot.Making organic plum juice and then canning it

To prepare the jars, I like to fill them to the brim with hot water and place them all in the microwave.  Microwave just until the water boils, and then leave the jars in the microwave until you are ready for them.  This sterilizes the jars and keeps them piping hot while you are preparing the juice!

Now, pour the hot juice into hot jars.

It used to be that when you made jams or jellies or hot packed fruits and juices, it was okay not to finish processing in a water bath canner.  The thought was that if you inverted the hot liquid for just a few seconds onto the jar lid, it would be sterilized, and the heat from the fruit and/or juice itself would be sufficient enough to form a good seal.  Well, that’s not the case anymore.  Now it is recommended that everything canned go through the recommended amount of time in a water bath canner (unless, of course, you are canning low acid foods which need to be pressure canned).  That’s okay with me since I realized  that canning outside on a cool morning is a very enjoyable task.  I use my turkey fryer that my husband and I received for Christmas (thanks Matt and Wendy) several years ago.  It’s great for water bath canning, and my new pressure canner also fits into the base! Water Bath Canning Plum Juice

Once your hot jars are packed with the hot juice, you have placed your hot lids on with the screw band, place them in a hot water bath canner and process both pints and quarts for 15 minutes.

That’s it!  Done!  Now the juice is ready for a cold winter morning.  Or, perhaps a hot summer day over ice!  Of course, it’s also great in a smoothie or added to iced tea as a sweetener and flavor enhancer.  I will be canning several more batches of this plum juice in the coming week.  I just hate seeing the plums fall to the ground and go to waste, and this is a much better solution.Using a juicer to can plum juice

And now our neighbors might speak to us again! 😉

How to can juiceSo – what do you do with all of that left-over plum pulp?  Well, you can feed it to your chickens or hogs – they would love it.  Or, you could make delicious plum butter!  I found a great way to make plum butter in the crockpot.  It is easy to do and tastes soooo  good.  For the recipe and instructions on how to make Crock Pot Plum Butter – CLICK HERE

 

Thought for the day:  Be kind to our earth, ourselves and each other – eat healthy food! Have a wonderful day!

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Canning Peaches for Yogurt

My son’s peach tree has been producing like gangbusters this year and I happily accepted a big bowl of peaches from him yesterday.  Aren’t they beautiful?

Homemade peach almond yogurt

He has one of those peach trees that has grafts of several different varieties, and unfortunately I am not sure which type of peach these are (probably Redhaven), but they sure taste good and sweet!  I decided to can them in small chunks in small jars – specifically to add to yogurt!

First, I had to can the peaches.  Here is a brief summary of what is needed to do to can peaches: How to make peach almond yogurt First, separate the ones that are over ripe or have obvious insect damage.  If the insect damage isn’t too bad, you can use the good parts.  Then, you need to peel the peaches.  The quickest way is to drop them in a simmering water bath for about 30-60 seconds.  I usually do two or three at a time, chasing them around the pot with a slotted spoon. Once the skin starts to crack, scoop each peach out with the spoon and plunge into ice water.  You don’t want to cook the peach at this point – just peel it!  I usuallyHomemade peach almond yogurt use just a sauce pan to hold the simmering water, but a big stock pot for the ice water.  This way I can go through this process with a whole lotta peaches before I have to stop and finish processing.

Now the peel just slips off the peach.  There may be some spots you need to use a paring knife to get off the peel – especially where the peach isn’t quite ripe – but generally the peel should just slip off.  Be careful!  I have ended up with more than one peach on the floor while peeling.  The peeled peaches are slippery little devils! 😉

At this point I need to decide if I am going to can my peaches in syrup or water.  I know it would be healthier to can in just plain water, but I do like just a little organic sugar in my peaches and this is what will give just a bit of sweetness to the yogurt. It also helps the peaches not to float so much in the jar, though this usually happens with peaches anyway.  So, I made a light syrup of 2 cups of sugar in 5 cups of water.  Heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  You don’t necessarily have to boil it, as long as the sugar dissolves.

Peach Almond YogurtOnce the peaches are peeled, cut in half and pull out the pit. Cut the peaches up into bite sized chunks and throw place into the syrup.  After all the peaches are chunked up and in the syrup, it’s time to bring them to a simmer for about 5 minutes – just long enough to heat through.

Meanwhile, get your jars and lids ready.  I like to put my clean jars, full of water, in the microwave.  I microwave them until the water is just boiling and then let them sit in the microwave until I am ready for them.  This sterilizes the jars and also keeps them piping hot while I am preparing the food that will go in them.  Remember, if you are doing a hot pack, as I am here, you need to have hot jars, hot syrup and fruit and simmering hot water ready in the water bath canner.  Otherwise, if you put hot liquids into a cold jar, or a hot jar into a cold water bath canner, the thermal shock just might shatter your jars.  Believe me, it isn’t pretty! 😉

How to make peach almond yogurtOnce everything is good to go, pack your hot jars with the hot peaches to about 1/2 inch of the top.  Jiggle and wiggle (gently) the jars to settle the peaches down and get the bubbles out.  Pack a little more in if there is room now (♫♪♫♫ from all that shakin goin on ♪♫♪♪) and add syrup to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.  Wiggle and jiggle again (carefully) to make sure you have all the bubbles out and run a small thin plastic knife around the inside edge to release any trapped bubbles.  Wipe the rim clean of any food particles or syrup and put your hot lid on top.  Screw on the band to just finger tight.

Homemade yogurt with peaches and almonds

If using Tattler lids, once processing is done, pull them out one by one, tightening the band ring as you go. Do NOT tighten rings if using metal lids.

Here is where I do it just a bit different because I am using Tattler lids.  I screw on the band until it is just finger tight, like with the metal bands, but then I untwist it about 1/2 inch.  The Tattler lids need just a bit more room for the vacuum to form.  Then, once the processing is done and the jars are pulled out of the water bath, you must immediately tighten the lids down.  Why do I go through the trouble with these Tattler lids?  Because these lids can be used over and over and over again, unlike their metal counterpart.  Since I like the sustainability of using these lids and the money it will save me in the long run, I have been buying a set of lids every other month or so.  Eventually, I want to have enough Tattler lids to be able to can exclusively with them.

Back to the peaches.

For the half pint jars you will need to keep them in the water bath canner for 15 minutes (pints 20 minutes).  Make sure there is at least one inch of water over the top of the jar lids.  Let them cool, take off the band, check to make sure you got a good seal, and keep in a cool, dry, dark area.

Now it’s time to make the peach and almond yogurt!

My oldest son and his wife got me a yogurt maker for Christmas.  I didn’t ask for one and didn’t even know I wanted one, but boy am I glad they got me one! 🙂  It seems my kids know me well.  What I got was the Dash Greek Yogurt Maker and I will tell you, I am in love!  It makes enough yogurt for four servings, plus 1/2 cup reserved for making another batch of yogurt!  I highly recommend this yogurt maker.

Anyway, make your yogurt however you want to.  If you don’t have a yogurt maker, there are plenty of ways to make yogurt without one.  In fact, I just saw a post about how to make yogurt in a crockpot!  Click HERE for a link to that post.  If you don’t have a crockpot either, just google for “how to make yogurt at home” and you will find lots of recipes and ways to make your own.

Okay.  Now you have your home canned peaches, fresh yogurt, but wait – where are the almonds?  Easy-peasy – just buy some blanched almonds or do it yourself.  To blanch almonds, just plunge them in boiling water for about 15 seconds, then pour cold water over them.  The skins push right off.  Chop them up and you are now good to go!

How to make yogurt with peaches and almonds

I equally divide the peaches and almonds into my handy-dandy containers, add the yogurt and done!  I like to add a little bit of cinnamon and/or cardamom to mine also.  The cinnamon is good for you (lowers blood pressure) and adds that extra umph of flavor!  Sooo good!  How to make your own yogurt

For breakfast or for a substantial snack, yogurt, fruit and nuts are fantastic.  You can change it around with whatever fruit or nut you have available.  I can my fruit in the small 8 oz jelly jars because it is the perfect size for one batch of yogurt.  Try a blueberry/pecan combo, or apple/walnut.  Once you have your fruit already canned, it’s easy to pull a jar out of the pantry, grab some of your favorite nuts, and make one of these delicious combos!

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