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Chinese Preserved Plum Recipe: How to Make Your Own Sweet and Sour Snack

If you're looking for a new flavour to add to your pantry, Chinese preserved plums are a great option. These plums are a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking and are known for their unique sweet, sour, and salty flavour. They can be used in a variety of dishes, from savoury stir-fries to sweet desserts.

A hand reaches for a jar of preserved plums, surrounded by ingredients like sugar, salt, and spices on a kitchen counter

Chinese preserved plums, also known as huamei, have a long history and cultural significance in China. They are often enjoyed as a snack or used as a flavouring in dishes. The plums are typically made by drying the fruit with sugar and salt, then marinating it with various herbs and spices. The result is a tangy, umami flavour that can add depth to any dish.

If you're interested in trying out Chinese preserved plums in your cooking, there are a few things to keep in mind. Selecting high-quality plums is important, as is understanding the various preparation techniques used to make them. With the right ingredients and techniques, you can create a delicious and unique flavour that will impress your guests.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese preserved plums are a sweet, sour, and salty ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • These plums have a long history and cultural significance in China, and are often enjoyed as a snack or used as a flavouring in dishes.
  • Selecting high-quality plums and understanding the various preparation techniques are important when using Chinese preserved plums in your cooking.

History and Cultural Significance

A steaming pot of preserved plums surrounded by traditional Chinese herbs and spices, symbolizing centuries of cultural significance and culinary history

Chinese preserved plums, also known as huamei, have a long history in China and are a popular snack enjoyed by people of all ages. Preserving plums is a traditional method of preserving fruit in China, and huamei is one of the most popular preserved fruits.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Digestion

In traditional Chinese medicine, plums are believed to have many health benefits, including aiding digestion. The sour taste of the preserved plums is said to stimulate the digestive system and help with the absorption of nutrients. In addition, the plums are believed to help regulate the body's energy flow and balance the yin and yang energies.

Influence on Cuisine and Celebrations

Huamei has had a significant influence on Chinese cuisine and is used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and marinades. The tangy and sour flavour of the preserved plums adds a unique taste to these dishes and is a favourite ingredient among Chinese chefs.

Preserved plums are also an important part of Chinese celebrations, particularly during the Chinese New Year. The sweet and sour taste of the plums is believed to bring good luck and fortune for the coming year. The plums are also a popular snack during the festivities and are often given as gifts to friends and family.

During the imperial courts, huamei was considered a delicacy and was often served to the emperor and his guests. The plums were also used to make a popular drink called meijiu, which was enjoyed by the royal family.

Chinese preserved plums have a rich history and cultural significance in China. Whether enjoyed as a snack or used in cooking, huamei continues to be a beloved part of Chinese cuisine and traditions.

Selecting Ingredients

A hand reaches for chinese preserved plums and other ingredients on a kitchen counter

When it comes to making Chinese preserved plums, selecting the right ingredients is key to achieving the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty flavours. In this section, we'll take a closer look at some of the key ingredients you'll need and how to choose them.

Choosing the Right Plums

The first ingredient you'll need for making Chinese preserved plums is, of course, the plums themselves. You can use any variety of plums, but it's important to choose ones that are firm and ripe. Yellow or red plums are both good options.

Sweeteners and Flavour Enhancers

To achieve the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty flavours in your preserved plums, you'll need to use the right sweeteners and flavour enhancers. Traditional Chinese preserved plums are made with a combination of salt, sugar, and various herbs and spices.

When it comes to sweeteners, you can use a variety of different sugars, including rock sugar and osmanthus sugar. Rock sugar is a type of sugar that is made by crystallising sugar cane juice. It has a subtle, sweet flavour and is often used in Chinese cuisine. Osmanthus sugar, on the other hand, is made by infusing sugar with dried osmanthus flowers. It has a more floral flavour and is often used in desserts.

In addition to sugar, you can also use other flavour enhancers, such as sour plums, tangerine peel, herbs, ginger, soy sauce, and vinegar. These ingredients will add depth and complexity to your preserved plums, and help to balance out the sweetness and saltiness.

Preparation Techniques

Plum halves being coated in salt and dried under the sun. Red chili peppers and spices being added to the mixture

Preparing Chinese preserved plums is a simple process that involves cleaning, boiling, cooling, and storing the plums. Here are the techniques to follow:

Cleaning and Preparing Plums

Before you start boiling the plums, you need to clean them thoroughly. Rinse the plums in cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Use a sharp knife to cut the plums in half and remove the pits. You can also leave the pits in the plums if you prefer.

The Boiling Process

To prepare the plums for preservation, you need to boil them in hot water. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the plums and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, add the plums and let them simmer for about 10 minutes. The plums should be soft and tender but not mushy.

Cooling and Storage

After boiling the plums, drain them in a colander and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process. Let the plums cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge. The preserved plums can last for up to six months in the fridge.

The process of preparing Chinese preserved plums is straightforward. By following these simple steps, you can make your own preserved plums at home.

Recipes and Variations

A table with ingredients like plums, sugar, and salt. A jar filled with preserved plums. A recipe book open to a page with variations

If you're looking for a salty and sour taste, preserved plums are a great option. There are many recipes and variations to try at home. Here are a few that you can experiment with:

Classic Preserved Plum Recipe

To make a classic preserved plum at home, you will need to gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh plums
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of salt

Start by washing and drying the plums. Then, pierce each plum with a toothpick a few times. In a large bowl, mix the sugar and salt together. Roll each plum in the sugar and salt mixture until it is well coated. Place the plums in a jar and let them sit for at least a week before eating.

Suanmeitang (Sour Plum Drink)

Suanmeitang, also known as Chinese sour plum drink, is a refreshing drink that is perfect for hot summer days. To make this drink, you will need:

  • 10 sour plums
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 cups of water

Start by washing the sour plums and cutting them in half. Remove the pits and place the plums in a large pot. Add the sugar and water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool. Squeeze the lemon into the pot and stir. Serve the drink chilled.

Chinese Preserved Plum Caramel Lollipops

If you're looking for a sweet and sour candy, Chinese preserved plum caramel lollipops are a unique treat. To make these lollipops, you will need:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of corn syrup or golden syrup
  • Preserved plums
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Parchment paper

Start by laying out some sheets of parchment paper on a table. Arrange preserved plums about 5-6 inches apart on the paper and place a lollipop stick tucked up against each plum. In a saucepan, combine the water and syrup and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer until it reaches 300°F. Pour the mixture over the plums and let it cool. Once it has cooled, break the candy into pieces and enjoy.

There are many other recipes and variations you can try with preserved plums, such as plum sauce, plum tea, and sour plum candy. Experiment with different flavours and see what you like best.

Serving Suggestions

A bowl of preserved plums surrounded by chopsticks and a teapot on a bamboo placemat

Pairing with Meals

Chinese preserved plums are a versatile ingredient that can be paired with a variety of meals. The mouth-puckering tanginess of the plums pairs well with fish and chicken dishes, adding a unique depth of flavour to your meal. You can also use preserved plums as a garnish for hot pot or as an appetizer to stimulate your appetite before the main course.

If you're looking to incorporate preserved plums into your daily meals, consider visiting your local Asian grocery store. You can find preserved plums in a variety of forms, including dried, pickled, and smoked.

Creating Refreshing Beverages

Preserved plums can also be used to create refreshing beverages that are perfect for any occasion. For a smoky and tangy drink, try making Chinese sour plum tea (suanmei tang) by simmering smoked Chinese plums in water and adding sugar to taste. Serve the tea hot or chilled with ice for a refreshing drink.

Another refreshing beverage that you can make with preserved plums is a lime and huamei drink. Simply blend preserved plums, lime juice, and ice cold water together and serve over ice. The tanginess of the huamei combined with the tartness of the lime creates a mouth-watering drink that's perfect for a hot summer day.

Overall, preserved plums are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you're looking to add a unique flavour to your meals or create a refreshing beverage, preserved plums are a great ingredient to have on hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

A table with ingredients and utensils for making Chinese preserved plum

How do you make preserved plums at home?

To make preserved plums at home, you will need dried plums, sugar, salt, and a variety of spices. The process involves drying the plums, then marinating them in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices for several weeks. You can find detailed instructions on how to make preserved plums at home from this Chinese salted plums recipe.

What's the best way to enjoy salted dried plums?

Salted dried plums can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They are often eaten as a snack on their own, or used as a flavouring in dishes such as stir-fries and stews. They can also be used to make a refreshing sour plum drink, which is a popular beverage in China. You can find a recipe for sour plum drink in this article.

Can you share any health benefits of eating dried salted plums?

Dried salted plums have a number of health benefits. They are high in fibre, which can aid digestion and promote bowel regularity. They are also rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect against cell damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Additionally, they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, iron, and potassium. However, it's important to note that dried salted plums are also high in sodium, so they should be consumed in moderation.

What's the shelf life of homemade preserved plums?

Homemade preserved plums can last for several months if stored properly. To ensure that they stay fresh, it's important to store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. You can also store them in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.

How do you prepare a sour plum drink?

To prepare a sour plum drink, you will need dried salted plums, sugar, and water. Simply soak the plums in water for several hours, then strain the liquid and add sugar to taste. You can find a detailed recipe for sour plum drink in this article.

Are there any risks associated with consuming Chinese salted plums?

While Chinese salted plums are generally safe to consume, there are some risks associated with eating them in excess. As mentioned earlier, they are high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems if consumed in large amounts. Additionally, some people may be allergic to certain spices or flavourings used in preserved plum recipes, so it's important to be aware of any potential allergies before consuming them.