A happy accident. I bought some overripe greengage plums, and slightly overdid it with the vanilla bean powder while preparing the overnight sugar soak. Add in not having enough time to make the jam so they sat longer than overnight, and you’ve got a very sugared, very vanilla plummy mass ready to go. It’s a wonderful caramel sauce if you don’t boil it long enough to jell, and vegan to boot, since there’s no butter or cream in the caramel. It’s slightly grainy if you press down on the plums while food-milling, but thick and sweet and slightly salty and delicious. You can fruitfully use any dense plum and overripe ones would work best. Try it with prune-plums, especially our fleshy Brooks plums. Worried about safe canning? This recipe is based on a greengage jam recipe developed by Linda Ziedrich, so it’s good to go.
Salted Plum Caramel Sauce
Makes 5-6 half-pints.
- 5 lbs. dense, late-season plums (e.g., greengages, damsons, prune-plums)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 6 cups sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
Pit and quarter plums. Toss with lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla, and let sit 12-24 hours in the refrigerator. Bring to a rapid boil, add sea salt. When foam subsides and the sauce starts to turn caramel-colored and thicken (I’ll leave it up to you to decide how thick, but don’t cook so long it reaches the gel point of 220 degrees), remove from heat and let the sauce cool.
Using a food mill, separate the flesh from the skins. If you want perfectly smooth sauce, don’t press too hard on the solids, and mill twice, once with a coarse disk, once with a fine disk. I just milled once and pressed, so the sauce is slightly grainy. I think it maintains the notion of the plum that way.
Can the sauce by bringing it to a boil again and letting it boil for 5 minutes. Spoon into sterilized half-pint jars, wipe rims, adjust rings and lids, and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Serve on crêpes, warmed and tossed in a “salad” of cubes of sharp cheddar and apple with walnuts, hot over ice cream, or atop an apple cake.