Plum Sauce

This is not your typical Asian-style plum sauce, but a traditional Kiwi style from the 1960s, based on the recipe in the iconic Edmonds Cook Book.  This comes from a time before anyone in NZ knew that Asian food existed. 

Plum sauce is my favourite for cold meats, sausages, fish and especially brain fritters

The Commercial plum sauces I have tried lately seem rather non plummy.  They do not have the same wonderful flavour as the great stuff we had way back when I was young, made from fresh plums by Mum, and later by me, following the original Edmonds recipe.  I am trying to reproduce that, though naturally I cannot avoid tweaking the recipe. Or find the right fresh NZ fruit.  Besides, I left the Edmonds Cook Book with my girls.  

Research. Improvise. 

Fresh plums are rare and expensive here.   Also Australian fruit do not seem to have the flavour they should. In any case, there are none in the shop right now, or I might have splurged anyway.  I have not had a good plum sauce for so long.  I decided to try making sauce with canned plums.  One advantage I found immediately I started was that it was very easy to remove the plum stones at the beginning, rather than having to go through the messy process of straining them out later.  I wondered at first if I should – whether the stones might contribute something essential to the sauce – but then I figured that if that was so, having been through the retort in the cannery process, they probably already had.  

It is my opinion that the juice in the can holds more plum flavour than the plums themselves, so I added it to the recipe.


  • 2 large (860g) cans of dark plums in juice 
  • 1 jar plum jam (update)
  • 1 large can pulped apple.
  • 1.5 litres malt vinegar 
  • 3 cups brown sugar 
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed garlic (from a jar)
  • 3 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • A few bay leaves or 1/2 tsp dried bay powder. I still have some I made from the tree I left in Katanning. 

I was generous with the spice measurements. 

UPDATE June 2016

Made a double batch using the same ingredients except I added a jar of Plum Jam and simmered the sauce an hour longer. It improved the plummy flavour and thickened up the sauce nicely.  Recommended if using canned plums.  


  1. Put all the ingredients into a large stainless steel pan. 
  2. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently. 
  3. Simmer steadily until pulpy.  In this case I simmered for about an hour. 
  4. If the stones are still in there, press through a colander or coarse sieve.  Remove any bay leaves.
  5. Blend with a blender wand
  6. Simmer for a few more minutes.
  7. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal. 
a sauce of great joy

Home-made plum sauce – a sauce of great joy.

Made with canned fruit and juice, the sauce came out runnier than I anticipated.  It is thicker than Worcestershire though, and the smell and taste suggest I am definitely on the right track. I allowed some to cool and tried it on some cold chicken.  It is very promising indeed.  It should be excellent in a while. This sauce should be allowed to mature for a month or so before use.  When we were young it was impossible to wait but Mum made plenty.  I clearly remember it got better and better as it aged.

This recipe made just over two litres. Be prepared!  I didn’t have enough bottles, so a lot had to go into jars.  I can top up the bottles from the jars later.

Now I just hope that Jamie gets in the brains I ordered soon.

 Here, after a search, is what I believe to be the original Edmonds Cookbook (first edition) recipe, converted to metric:

  • 3 kg Plums, choose dark red ones
  • 6 cups Malt vinegar
  • 5 cups Brown sugar
  • 50 g Garlic, approximately 10 cloves
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tsp. Ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. Ground mace
  • 2 tsp. Ground ginger, or large knob grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. Ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  1. Into a large preserving pan add red plums, malt vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, lemon zest and juice, ground pepper, ground mace, ground ginger or grated fresh ginger, ground cloves, cayenne pepper and salt.
  2. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently, and cook until pulpy.
  3. Pass through a coarse sieve, return to the pan and bring back to boil for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal.



About Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.
This entry was posted in barbecue, Chutney, Pickle, sacred food, sauce, Sweet & Sour and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Plum Sauce

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  5. You need a neighbour with a plum tree! I grew up with a huge plum tree in our backyard. The neighbours would break the fence sneaking onto our property to get plums. My parents wished they would just come through the front. We had more plums than we could eat and were happy to share.

    • Alan says:

      Sadly, plums would not grow where I am at present.
      In my youth I worked on a farm that had a tree of magnificent elephant heart plums. They were the very best.

      Thanks for dropping by!

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