Plum Catsup

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Where does one draw the line between a catsup and a sauce? My personal definition is that if I want to dunk French fries in it, it’s a catsup. This hot little number is way more versatile than your standard bottled tomato catsup. It’s tangy, sweet, severely savory-killer on a chicken sandwich or with pork loin. Find a friend with a plum tree (thanks, Tom!) and you will have plums a-plenty to get this in gear.

Cooking Methodcanning, preserving


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, infant, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Taste and Texturefruity, spiced, sweet, tart

Type of DishCondiments


  • 5 pounds black or red plums, preferably Santa Rosas
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled and lightly scored with the tip of a knife
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Wash and stem the plums and lay them in a single layer in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Add the water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the pot. The skins will burst and the plums will release their juice and soften.

  2. Remove the pot from the heat, uncover it, and let the fruit cool for about 5 minutes. Pour the plums into a heavy-duty sieve, a small-holed colander, or a food mill set over a large mixing bowl and push the plums through to render the juice and the pulp and to separate out the skins and the pits. Discard the skins and pits. Return the juice and the pulp to the pot and add the sugar, vinegar, marmalade, cinnamon, star anise, garlic, and salt.

  3. Set the pot over high heat and bring it just to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture, uncovered, to reduce it, being careful not to let it splatter. Stir often, modifying the heat as needed to keep it at a slow simmer as the liquid reduces. Cook for about 35 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Draw a spoon across the bottom of the pot; the mixture should be thick enough to part, expose the bottom of the pot, and then come back together again. Remove and discard the cinnamon, anise, and garlic. Pour the catsup into glass jars or bottles.

  4. Kept refrigerated, this catsup will keep for up to 1 year. It can be served warm or cold.


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