Wild plums in my area are fantastic, but they can be tricky to get at peak ripeness and once they’re ripe, they’ll deteriorate fast. The good news is that wild plums have a strong flavor, and a little goes a long way.
I shared another plum sauce before that’s highly spiced, see the recipe for wild plum ketchup here. Both of them are great, but this one follows the philosophy of less is more.
One of the purest things I know how to make is fruit sauces like this since there’s only 4 ingredients: water, plums, sugar and salt. But like I alluded to, the absolute key to capturing the flavor of the plums is their ripeness. A couple days too early, the plums will give you a sauce that’s beige. A couple days too late, you’ll have fermented plums. The plums you pick at the peak of ripeness are a thing of beauty though, and make a brilliant colored sauce/coulis, with a tart, punchy flavor to match.
That being said, if you happen to pick a bunch of plums in the heat of the moment, and they’re slightly under-ripe, or some are ripe and some aren’t, and you aren’t exactly amazed with the flavor, you can make the sauce as I describe below, and then add a bit of raspberry puree to taste, which will improve the color and round out the flavor-a technique I came up with after I accidentally picked a bunch that could have been on the tree a little longer.
Wild Plum Sauce
Excellent with duck, pork and game. It couldn’t be easier to make too, just stone very ripe plums, add a little water, cook until soft, then puree and season to taste with salt and sugar. Adding fresh chopped tarragon at the end is great too.
After you make the sauce, don’t worry if it makes you pucker you’ll be surprised how nice the tartness is when you taste it alongside other ingredients, especially fatty cut’s of pork or rich game. At the restaurant, I make this gallons at a time and freeze in 2 cup containers until we need it, then the line cooks can just pull it out as needed, thaw, heat and whisk to refresh the texture and it’s ready to go.
Yield: about 2 cups
- 1 lb wild plums, washed, then cut in half, pit removed
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Honey or sugar, to taste (anywhere from 1-4 tablespoons depending on your personal tolerance for astringency, I suggest adding a tablespoon at a time until you like it)
- Filtered water, as needed
- Make the wild plum puree by heating the stoned wild plums with a tiny bit of water to prevent scorching. Cook on low heat, covered, stirring occasionally until the plums are hot throughout and wilted, then puree in a highspeed blender until very smooth, adding a little warm water if needed to make it smooth enough to pass through a strainer. Pass the puree through a strainer, season lightly to taste with the honey or sugar, cool and reserve.
- Heat the plum puree. It should have the consistency of smooth tomato sauce, but should not be thick like ketchup. If needed, thin the sauce with a bit of water, or cook gently to thicken it if it’s too thin. Double check the seasoning and adjust as needed, then serve immediately.