This plum ketchup is lightly spiced and sweet and sour. It is a versatile sauce that works well with roasts, cheeses, salads, burgers, and chips.
Transforming and preserving is something I enjoy.
I guess it is the little girl who grew up in a home with a peasant grandmother skilled in making sweet and savory preserves who comes out of the woodwork, claiming time for this passion.
I dry and chop the herbs I gather in the countryside. I make pesto and freeze it. I don’t miss any fruit, making a few jars for each one every year.
During my childhood, I saw my grandmother making jams of cherries, apricots, peaches, Red Isabella grapes, and figs that came from our trees. I remember vegetables put in jars with oil and those destined for a mixture of water and vinegar, and then again syrups and fruit juices, passata di pomodoro.
It is impossible not to imitate her, but it is more difficult to make better than Nonna.
The art of preserving
From her, I learned the basics of these homemade preparations that we can call things from an old-fashioned pantry.
Once, at home, everything found its place in the basement, our pantry. Among those shelves took place jars of jams, fruits in syrup and giardiniera, salami, demijohns of wine, and even eggs in lime. It was an old method of keeping them fresh for months and, of course, it was helpful during winter months when the chickens produce decreases.
For me, the home cellar represented the room of wonders.
I also remember the top floor of my great-grandfather’s country home smelling fresh and earthy as the family stored apples and potatoes under the wooden beams of the under-roof.
As I wrote, I learned from grandma the basics of the art of preservation, one of the most precious in the kitchen; to peel and clean and cut without puffing. And to believe in the transformation process that takes place during cooking as a mystery of faith-whether it is slow like that of Romagna savor and Bolognese mostarda or fast like that of giardiniera.
Some of Grandma’s preparations are still unmatched, such as, to name just one, her classic giardiniera and the version with fruit that she made only for Christmas.
What I do is to prepare a few jars with recipes from home so as not to forget the art.
I don’t want to lose the memory of those moments of collective work when many people gathered in the kitchen at home or in the farmyard in the country.
Most of them are olfactory memories, and sometimes, among aromas and smells, emerge lights and shadows, laughter, whispered words, noises of falling objects, shattered bottles, and exclamations of amazement.
Now and then, I experiment with flavor combinations using the knowledge I learned as a young alchemist at the family school.
It happened with the home recipe of apple jam I enriched with the classic flavors of strudel filling. And again with the plum sauce. I turned it into ketchup, or rather keciap, as Grandma Sara would have written on the labels that accompanied jars and bottles.
After two years of experimenting, I achieved the result I hoped and desired.
The homemade plum sauce was less thick than my ketchup. It is also spicier than the sauce, only slightly sweet and sour, and has the typical consistency of the ruby sauce we all know.
Use it with roasts, meat and veggie burgers, stir-fries, and salads (like the red radicchio one you can read on the blog).
I dedicate my plum ketchup recipe to those who love home old-fashioned pantries.
Buona cucina, Monica
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- one single-use tea filter bag
- 500 g of plum
- 100 g of pitted prunes
- 200 g of brown sugar
- filtered juice of one lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
- 30 g tomato paste
- 50 ml apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- Clean the plums, cut them in half, and remove the inner stone; then place them in a bowl.
- In a tea filter bag, collect cinnamon, clove, anise, and bay leaf and close the bag (it will be easy to remove everything before blending).
- In a bowl, combine the fresh plums, pitted plums, sugar, lemon juice, and spices in the bag. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- In a saucepan, pour the contents of the bowl, then add chopped shallots, tomato paste, and vinegar, and stir.
- Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook on a medium-low flame and medium-small stove for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the stove, remove the spice bag, and whisk, reducing the mixture to a cream. If it seems too slow, put it back on the stove for another 5-10 minutes.Taste, adjusting for salt.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or pour the mixture while still very hot intojars, close with clean airtight caps, and turn upside down to form a vacuum. Wait until the jars are completely cold.