This fermented plum sauce is based on the popular Chinese condiment. Fermentation is not only a super easy, no-cook way to make plum sauce, but it also improves the depth of flavor of this sweet and sour sauce.
Flavors for Homemade Plum Sauce
Like so many traditional recipes, there are thousands of different ways to make plum sauce, and each has its own unique flavor. If you have a favorite recipe for plum sauce, feel free to use it to make your own fermented plum sauce. The only trick is to maintain the proportion of fruit to water and apple cider vinegar.
Here are a few ways to create your own unique plum sauce:
- Different types of plums will change the flavor of the plum sauce. Sweeter plums will result in a sweeter sauce. Sour plums will create a sour sauce.
- Create your own spice combination. Star anise, Szechuan peppercorn, fennel, and mustard seed are all delicious.
- Replace the spices with Chinese 5-spice.
- For a sweet plum sauce, use a 1/2 cup of sugar or brown sugar.
- Use apricots or peaches instead of plums.
Storing Fermented Plum Sauce
Making plum sauce is a delicious way to preserve plums. It is an incredibly simple (no cooking!) and zero-waste condiment. If you want to make a double or triple batch of plum sauce, here are a few ways to store the extra jars.
- Fermentation: Fermented plum sauce will last for several months in the fridge. I’m not exactly sure how long, as I’ve never had any of my fermented condiments go off in the fridge. Just be sure to avoid double-dipping. Like all condiments, a contaminated spoon may cause it to go off.
- Freezing: Freeze the plum sauce in plastic containers or straight-sided mason jars. Make sure to leave headroom for expansion.
- Canning: Canning will kill the probiotic culture in fermented plum sauce. However, it is the only way to make a shelf-stable plum sauce. For safe canning, stir 2 Tbsp of white vinegar into the fermented plum sauce. This is to increase the acidity after fermenting. Use 1 cup mason jars and water bath boil for 15 minutes. If you haven’t canned before, here are more details on water bath canning.
Fermented Plum Sauce
This Asian-inspired fermented plum sauce is sweet, sour, and mildly spiced. It has so much more flavor than its store-bought alternative. Perfect for dipping spring rolls and salad rolls. Serve it with rice or add it to a stirfry.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
- 3.5 cups of plums, chopped (about 6 large plums)
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of sugar (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar (see notes for alternatives)
- 3 Tbsp water, chlorine-free
- 1/2 tsp salt, to taste (added after fermenting)
- Mix the plums, onion, ginger, and garlic in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and spices. Pack the plum sauce mixture into a quart-sized (1 L) jar. It should fit if you really pack the plums in.
- Mix the ACV and the water. Pour it into the jar. Use a weight to keep the fruit below the liquid and leave 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) of headroom at the top of the jar. If your plums are firm, you may need to wait a few hours for them to release enough liquid to completely submerge below the liquid. Don’t add extra water or vinegar as you’ll end up with too much liquid in the long run. Cap the jar with a lid that can handle fermentation.
- Stash the plum sauce somewhere dark (a kitchen cupboard is perfect) to ferment for 2-7 days. The longer it ferments the less sweet it will be.
- For a smooth plum sauce, puree the fruit after fermenting. I find that an immersion blender works well for this job.
- Stir in the salt, to taste. Store the finished plum sauce in the fridge. At first, it will be a bit sparky from the fermentation, but that should only last for about a week. See the section above for details on how to preserve plum sauce for longer periods of time.
- This is a sugar-based ferment, so any yeast-based starter culture will work to ferment this plum sauce. I recommend using raw apple cider vinegar because it can be found in most grocery stores. Just look for unpasteurized, raw, or with mother, as not all ACV contains live cultures.
- Other culture options include ginger bug, water kefir, and kombucha. Again, it’s important to make sure they contain live yeast cultures, so don’t use store-bought versions which usually don’t contain the necessary culture.
- While I don’t often include sugar in my recipes, this ferment needs it to feed the culture. If you want to avoid added sugar, don’t replace it with a substitute. Just don’t add the sugar and reduce the fermentation time to 24 hours.