Asian Plum Sauce

Plum sauce has a lot of great uses, and home made is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. This sauce makes a delicious dipping sauce, is great for meat, such as pork, and is also great as a stir-fry sauce. I hope plums are still in season in your area so you can whip up a batch!

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This recipe comes from this small-batch preserving book. We only made a couple modifications, including using dates instead of raisins, and doing a larger batch (3 cup yield – I think not!!), so as written here this will yield 6-7 half pints.

18 – 20 plums (about 3 pounds)
3 cups brown sugar
3 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup dates
1 tbsp soy sauce
6 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice

Here’s how we made it.

Chop or food process the plums. The one pictured is actually at a friend’s house, but I just got this one and am l loving it so far. Soup and sauces galore! And I just used it to slice a ton of carrots into coins to make pickled carrots and it was aweeesome! But I digress, back to the sauce.


You should end up with about 3.5 cups of plum puree. Chop or food process the onions and dates as well and set them aside. I like a pretty fine chop for this sauce.

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Combine the plums, sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. If you’d rather not use sugar, I bet that honey to taste would be super delicious in this recipe as well. Boil the mixture for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients.

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Look at those adorable little cups!

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Return to a boil and reduce the heat. Allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, until the desired thickness is achieved. Continue to stir occasionally, and prepare the canner, jars, and lids when you are approaching a nice consistency. 45 minutes to an hour is probably good.

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Fill the hot jars with the sauce, leaving a half inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids, and tighten bands finger tip tight. Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner, covered by at least 1 inch of boiling water, for 15 minutes for half pints. After the 15 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes, and remove the jar to a hot pad or towel. Cool 12-24 hours, remove bands, check seals, wipe, label, and store.

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Enjoy this delicious sauce as a stir fry sauce, dipping sauce or however else you desire.

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Choice Salsa

In this year’s new edition of the salsa recipes for canning publication, PNW 395, our lovely extension friends added an awesome new recipe for those of us who love a little more choice in our lives – “choice salsa”! For this recipe, what you get to choose is the proportion of peppers to onions. Want a ton of peppers in your salsa? Or an equal mix of onions to peppers? Whatever your preference, you get to choose! Pretty great eh!?


6 cups cored, peeled, chopped tomatoes
9 cups chopped onions or peppers (of any variety)
1.5 cups bottled lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon canning or pickling salt

Here’s how we made it:
Blanch, peel and chop your tomatoes. My favourite way to deal with all the tomatoes is to core them, dip them in boiling water for 30 or so seconds, dip them in ice water, peel and chop them. Next chop up all the onions and peppers – you choose how much! But it has to total to 9 cups of onions and peppers, for 6 cups of tomatoes. This worked out really well for us because we made a big batch of Chile salsa, and then with the remaining tomatoes we made the choice salsa. It worked out well because I always have trouble buying the correct amount of peppers for a recipe. I grow my tomatoes, but buy the peppers and onions, so when I have 40 pounds of tomatoes, I have to figure out the right number of peppers to buy. This is HARD. So it worked super well that we used up all the rest of the peppers we had, then topped it off with the onions, since if you buy extra onions they store way better than peppers! So great! We ended up with a recipe fairly heavy on the peppers, but I think it turned out really well. I do find the lemon juice flavour to be quite strong though, so I think next time I might try half lemon, half lime.

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Prepare the canner, jars and lids. This recipe yields about 6 pints. Mix all the ingredients in a large stainless steel pot. Remember, do not alter the ratios of anything. You get 6 cups of tomatoes, 9 cups peppers/onions, and 1.5 cups of lemon juice. No reducing the lemon or adding extra veggies OK! Adding other dry spices is ok though, so if you want cumin, oregano or something else, add that now too. Heat all the ingredients to a boil over medium high, stirring occasionally. Simmer for at least 3 minutes, then fill your hot jars, leaving a half inch head space. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (sea level), covered by at least 1-2 inches of boiling water.

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After the 15 minutes turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Cool 12-24 hours, remove bands, check seals, clean, label and store.

This salsa is a great one because it’s super chunky – here it is compared to my other favourite salsa. Chile salsa on the left, choice salsa on the right.


Spicy Tomato Vegetable Soup

I first made this soup back in the pressure canning week of my Master Food Preserver class, and I could not wait until tomato season rolled around so I could stock up on this deliciousness. This soup is so good, and I just love that every ingredient is in season right now, which means every ingredient I either grew or picked within 10 miles of my house. That’s the best! This recipe is from So Easy to Preserve, which by the way is now out with its newest edition if you’re looking to get your hands on that. I just ordered a couple copies for myself and others. 🙂

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6 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped tomatillos
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped and seeded hot pepper
6 cups whole kernel corn, uncooked
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp hot pepper sauce
5 cups tomato juice
2 cups water

Here’s how we made it:

Chop, chop, chop, and chop some more. But really, that’s basically all there is to it. When I made this recipe at home by myself I got a hand cramp from too much chopping, so invite a friend over for goodness sake. For the tomatoes, core, blanch and peel them before chopping. For the tomatillos, remove them from the husk, wash and chop them without peeling. For the onions and carrots just peel and wash them and chop them into soup sized pieces. Wash and seed the peppers and use gloves to cut up the hot ones. For the corn, either cut it off the cob and measure 6 cups, or use frozen corn.

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Combine all the veggies in a large stockpot. Add in the tomato juice, water, and all the seasonings. For the tomato juice, you can either make juice by pressing some tomatoes through a food strainer, or use store bought. I bet you can guess which one I prefer. I think that the ratio of solids to liquids in this soup is a bit off, so it could probably use more like 6 or 7 cups of tomato juice. And just to justify this, the reason I think it’s OK to adjust the recipe in this way is because these are the National Center’s soup recommendations. The processing is the same with whatever combo of foods you have, unless you add seafood, and they just say to cover with liquid. Plus, tomato juice is the most liquidy and most acidic ingredient in this recipe. Anyways, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. While the soup is simmering, prepare your canner, jars and lids. This yields about 9 -10 pints of soup.

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When it comes time to fill the hot jars, it’s important to follow these instructions for filling them to ensure safe processing. Using a slotted spoon, fill the jars about half full with solids. The head space for the soup is going to need to be a full inch, so when filling halfway, keep in mind that you should be filling it halfway to that point. After the jars are half full with solids, fill them with liquid, leaving an inch head space.

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Such pretty jars.

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Remove air bubbles, adjust head space, wipe rims, and apply the lids and bands, tightening to finger tip tight.  Place the jars in your pressure canner with 3 quarts of water and begin heating the canner. Once all the jars are in the canner, close and lock the lid and get the canner heated up. Once your canner starts to vent a steady stream of steam, continue to vent for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, apply the weight. Bring the canner up to 11 pounds of pressure (10 for weighted gauge; sea level). The processing time for this recipe is 60 minutes for pints or 75 minutes for quarts. Begin the timer once at or above the correct pressure, and maintain that pressure throughout the canning time. After the processing time is complete, turn off the burner and carefully remove the canner from the heat. Wait until the pressure is completely returned to zero and the safety nubbin thing drops. Remove the weight, wait 10 more minutes, and then remove the lid of the canner and remove your jars to a hot pad or towel.

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While the jars can, eat any leftovers that you had.

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Ta-da! Gorgeous soup. And so damn delicious. After 12-24 hours, remove the bands, check the seals, wipe clean, label and store. Then repeat a week later because this soup is super good.

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Master Food Preserver Class – Week 4

Week 4 of Master Food Preserver class was all about pickling!

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What is pickling anyway? Well Janice, our awesome instructor, had a funny quote up on the board: “A pickle is a cucumber soured by a jarring experience.” HA! Well, I was entertained at least. But this is not entirely true; A pickle doesn’t need to be a cucumber, and it doesn’t always need to be jarred either! In fact, there wasn’t one cucumber in class, we did all sorts of other types of pickles instead. Pickling is basically the process of adding a high concentration of acid to a food to prevent the growth of microorganisms.

There are 4 basic types of pickles – you can pickle a lot more things than just cucumbers!
– Fresh pack or quick pickles
– Brined of fermented pickles
– Fruit pickles
– Relishes and Chutneys

Quick pickles are made when you combine the ingredients and immediately process, versus a fermented pickle that sits for a few weeks and ferments, producing its own acids. Fermentation in vegetables and fruits is the anaerobic breakdown of sugars into acid. In veggies, naturally present bacteria breaks down the sugars, and in fruits, it is yeast that converts the sugar first to alcohol, then to acid. The acid formed is lactic acid, as opposed to the acetic acid from vinegar which we use in quick pickles.

Relishes are seasoned sauces made from chopped fruits or veggies, and chutneys are fruit relishes with fruits and/or veggies and nuts. They are a sweet and sour blend of vinegar and spices.

The first thing we did in class was asparagus pickles. This is a fresh pack or quick pickle, because what we did was combine the asparagus with spices, water, vinegar and salt, put it into jars, and immediately process it in a boiling water bath canner.

Asparagus ready to be pickled.

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Mmmm. Now we wait a few weeks for them to absorb that vinegary deliciousness.

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We then split into four groups and each made a different pickled product. One group was in charge of this mango chutney.

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Chutneys are a little weird to me. I haven’t actually tried it yet, but I will let you know if I find an amazing use for my jar of this.

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All prepared and in the jars.

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Another group made this corn relish.

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I was on team beet pickle. If you know me you know I love me some beets.


It looks like a bit of a murder scene when you cut up beets. Especially precooked ones.

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I would definitely recommend gloves, unless you love having red hands. It doesn’t really bother me, but it does stain quite nicely. Helps you understand the term “beet red” 😉


I would not recommend doing this in half pints. This was simply so that the whole class got a jar to take home. Go pints or even quarts for sure. If you are looking for a recipe, I actually posted one a little while ago here.

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And finally, we pickled some onions.

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They made for a pretty attractive pickle.

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Pretty good haul! I never really used to be a big fan of pickles, but they sure are growing on me.

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OK now that you’ve enjoyed the picture show, we’ll finish with some pickling rules:
– Always use at least a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar making quick pickles. It’s not safe to use less vinegar or more water. If it’s too tart for your taste, add a teeny bit of sugar
– Use vinegar with 5% acidity, there are some tricky brands out there that are only 4%
– When making fermented pickles, don’t reduce the salt. And if you want to can it, don’t do so until they have a sour flavour.
– Always use pickling/canning salt rather than regular table salt
– You can swap the type of vinegar, as long as it is 5% acidity. Some people prefer the milder flavour of cider vinegar, go for it!
– The spices can be changed to taste. Adding more garlic or dill to your pickles is a-ok. This is one thing that is not a safety issue.

The last thing we did on pickling day was make flavoured vinegar. And this is a nice way to end, because as Janice said – there are no rules. When you make flavoured vinegar, it’s basically safe to chuck in whatever you like. Buy some cheap white wine vinegar in bulk and flavour it yourself by filling a jar with whatever spices you like and cover with vinegar. We tried some delicious berry ones as well, and I am super excited to make some this summer for some delicious vinaigrette. These are fine stored at room temperature. Once they have steeped to your satisfaction, they can also be processed in a boiling water bath canner if you really want to.

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My white wine vinegar, full of herbs, and a chive flower.

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Victorian Barbecue Sauce

I’ve had a lot of rhubarb coming in lately, so I decided to go for something a little different this time, and whipped up some Victorian barbecue sauce from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This is great on chicken, and I bet it would be nice on pork as well. It tastes surprisingly good and is quite easy to make. I am trying to get away from store bought braises and sauces for meat, and this is a delicious replacement; a nice combo of sweet and tart.

8 cups chopped rhubarb
3.5 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1.5 cups chopped raisins
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

Here’s how we made it:

Chop up the rhubarb, onions, and raisins.

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Combine all the ingredients in a stainless steal pot.

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This turns to brown muck pretty fast! Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir frequently and reduce to a simmer. We cooked the sauce for about a half hour. You want it to be the consistency of a barbecue sauce. Not too thick though… spreadable.

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I ended up pureeing it because I forgot to chop the raisins. This dummie just through them in. It should kind of be a pureed consistency anyways since it’s a sauce, so just don’t forget to chop the raisins 😉 Meanwhile, prepare the canner, jars and lids. This makes about 4 pints.

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Fill the hot jars, leaving a half inch head space. I hate to say it, but it kind of looks like we were canning up diarrhea. Yep, I said it. Gross. But it tastes really good. Anyways, that was awkward. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and tighten the bands finger tip tight. Place jars in canner, covered by at least 1-2 inches of water, bring to a full rolling boil and process for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Listen to them ping! Cool 12-24 hours, wipe jars, label and store.

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Try this sauce on barbecued chicken. It’s really delicious.

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