This is a sweet plum chutney with a hint of warm spices. The spices balance out the sweet and tart flavors making this a versatile ingredient. Make it as a quick chutney that will stay fresh for a few weeks when refrigerated or follow the pressure canning method for longer storage. Vegan
I love to make chutney sandwiches with it – a bit of tang, heat, and sweetness seems to work wonders on a piece of plain toast! But these go really well with spicy samosas or Naan or with Indian chaat or as a glaze when roasting poultry or ham. Thin it a little and it becomes a dipping sauce for spring rolls. As I mentioned earlier it is a very versatile ingredient and the options are endless.
- Choosing Plums
- What to Do With Overripe Plums
- Making Jams and Jellies With Plums
- When To Stop Cooking
- Making the Chutney
These plums were not on my list, but as I was stepping out on the grocery run a little voice chirped from behind “Mom, you never take us to the store with you!”. As usual, everything is dramatic when viewed through the little eyes. “Go with mommy”, chimed in DH. An uninterrupted afternoon nap is worth a few angry stares from the wife, he would have figured. Anyway, long story short the kids and I went shopping together.
… And that is how a fairly large box of plums ended up on the kitchen counter.
How bad can it get? after all it is just a few plums, right! These looked good – perfectly shaped, no blemishes, beautiful even coloring. The only thing you may not guess by looking at them is that they weren’t ripe enough. So after the first bite, no one spared them a second glance.
If you have a tree in the backyard, you can pick the ripe ones as they mature. Again, if the tree is large you will end up with a surplus even after distributing among neighbors and friends. When buying from the store you are looking for fruits that are perfectly shaped, even colored and without any blemishes (as I mentioned above).
In addition, the ripe fruits will have a slight give when squeezed at the bottom. It should not be mushy but should feel a little soft. Ripe, fresh plum will feel a little heavy for their size. This indicates good water content and seed. If the plums feel lighter it is safe to assume that the plum is drying out.
Commercial plums are picked before they are ripe. Sometimes these are forced to ripen by exposing the raw fruits to ethylene. Leaving them at room temperature for a couple of days also has the same effect. But the science lesson is lost on my family. They took a bite the same day and decided not to give it another try – once bitten twice shy! So these beauties ripened as they sat there on the counter, but no one showed any interest in them.
What to Do With Overripe Plums
I could throw it into the trash bin – or compost. But every time I look at it I am thinking “Ommm this is going to make some nice moonshine!”. I had made wine with these ages back just the way I make my homemade grape wine. It was delicious – (is that something you say about wine?). The point is that if I get another glass, I will be more than willing to try it. But somehow the moonshine making never came to pass, and the fruits sat there getting riper and riper.
Plum chutney – the light bulb went on my head as I was spreading the last bit of spiced pineapple jam onto my toast. It has been some time since I made jams or jellies, and I was just polishing off my last bottle of homemade jam! So yes, it seemed like a good idea.
And it turned out to be a much better idea. For one thing, plums don’t need a lot of cooking time. I had a little over 2 lbs of fruits leftover and that was perfect for about 4 cups of chutney.
Making Jams and Jellies With Plums
Plums, except for the Italian variety, contain a lot of pectin, making these perfect to make jams and jellies. There is no need to add extra pectin or find other fruits/peels that contain pectin. These impart wonderful color to the jam as well. Believe me, all that beautiful red comes without any food coloring. Keep in mind though that the color might vary a little depending on the variety of plums, though most dark varieties yield this gorgeous red color.
These soften well on cooking and unless you are looking for a smooth jelly texture do not worry about straining the mix or pulverizing the fruit.
Another thing in favor of this fruit is that it does not need a lot of elbow grease. Chop the plums and cook with sugar stirring every couple of minutes. Once the mix turns into a liquid add the spices and cook down to the desired consistency – in my case just set. Add a little vinegar simmer for a few minutes and bottle.
Making the Chutney
In this recipe, I have used some warm spices, medium-hot chili powder, ginger, clove, and cinnamon powders. A little bit of these spices go a long way in complementing and enhancing the flavors. For a spicier version increase the chili and ginger powders.
The chopped fruit, sugar, and spices cook together until the desired consistency is reached. For the most part, I do not use a candy thermometer when making jellies. I go the old-fashioned way using a bowl of cold water. This is how you do it
- Keep a small bowl with water nearby as the jelly thickens.
- Drop a little of the jelly into a bowl when you think it is ready.
- If it spreads the jelly needs to be cooked a little more.
- If it sets you are good to go.
For jellies that are meant for immediate consumption or stored refrigerated for a few weeks, this method works perfectly.
Coming to the bottling part, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind in home canning. If you are making a large batch, do follow the proper canning procedures. There is no point in going through all the processes of preserving if it is going to spoil before you get to open the jar. More information on canning can be found on the USDA website.
I on the other hand make these in smaller batches. The recipe here is for a small batch of up to 1 kg fruits. You get 3 to 4 Cups of chutney depending on how thick you want it to be. These can be bottled and refrigerated for a few weeks (3 to 4), without pressure/water canning.
In any case, use clean dry bottles and utensils to prevent spoilage.
Here is the recipe for spiced plum chutney .
Spiced Plum Chutney
- 1 kg Plums, chopped About 10 -12 medium
- 250 g Sugar About 1 C
- 1/2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Dry Ginger Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Medium Hot Chili Powder To Taste
- 1/8 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Tsp Ground cloves Can add up to 1 Tsp
- 2 Tbsp Vinegar
- Remove the seeds from the plums and chop them into small pieces.
- In a thick bottomed stock pot mix the chopped fruit with sugar. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the mix turns to liquid.
- Add salt, chili powder, ginger powder, cinnamon, and cloves to the mix. Over low heat cook until the mix reaches the desired consistency. Stir often to prevent the chutney from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste and add more spices if needed.
- When the chutney thickens place a drop of it into a bowl with cold water. If it sets and does not spread the chutney is read, otherwise cook a little more, and test again.
- Add the vinegar, mix in and cook over low heat for 5 more minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Bottle into clean sterilized bottles and process in a water/pressure Canner if planning to store for long, otherwise cool completely and refrigerate.
- Use within the next few weeks (3 to 4 ).
- Freshly ground spices pack more punch.
- You could substitute Apple Cider Vinegar or red wine vinegar for white vinegar. These will change the flavors a little.
- Adjust sugar as to your taste. When using ripe plums this recipe will yield a sweet chutney, but not overly sweet.
- Check USDA instructions for canning if planning on longer storage
Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.