Zesty Plum Ketchup

2 1/2 lb Italian prune plums (about 52 plums), halved
3 cloves garlic, quartered
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon

Prep your jars/lids. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot (I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven). Bring to a rolling boil and cook until the plums are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender or ladle in a regular blender to pulse until smooth. Return to a rolling boil and cook until thickened to ketchup consistency*, about 20 minutes. Ladle into pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: about 4 8-oz jars

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

*The sauce does thicken up a bit upon cooling. You can place a small amount on a dish and chill it in the refrigerator (while you’re cooking the ketchup) to check the cooled consistency if you’d like.

My thoughts:

That big box of fruit from the kind folks at Sweet Preservation included exactly 2 1/2 lbs of these “prune” plums. The skin was such a pretty shade of purple, I was suprised when the insides were acid green! They were also on the tart side. The very ripe ones (most were just on the edge of ripeness, not unripe but not squishy soft either) were sweeter but not that over-the-top gushing sweetness of black plums or those apriums featured early this week. Still, a lot of flavor from a tiny plum!

I was tempted to make jam but then I thought better of it and thought I’d try another homemade ketchup. I’m still thinking about that beet ketchup I made earlier in the summer and thought it would be lovely to have a summery version to have on hand during the chilly months. As it turns out, the plums were well suited to ketchup. They were pretty meaty for small fruit and thickened up not only well but rapidly. The end product was tangy, zesty and tart-fruity; the perfect replacement for my too-sweet sworn enemy, tomato ketchup.

Note: I’d never made anything with Italian prune plums before but don’t let their prune-y name throw you off. They are just plums and while they can be made into prunes, they are great to cook with. The skin is thin so there is no need to peel them and they are freestone so once you halve them along the crease, the pit pops right out. And when they cook, they turn a sort of fuchsia. What’s not to love?


  1. Judy@lifeonthefoodchain

    Gee, Rachel, now i have to go see if there are still any Italian plums still in our markets here today. If i can find any, I'll be canning today. This looks wonderful.

  2. I have been trying my hand at the canning jams this summer. I never have thought about homemade ketchup. We have some beets left and I like the idea of doing beet ketchup. Plus, it is one less trip to the store. Thanks

  3. Thanks! It is really tasty! Good luck finding the plums, they should be in season for a couple more weeks.