Renee Pottle is an author, Family and Consumer Scientist, and Master Food Preserver. She writes about canning, baking, and real food at SeedtoPantry.com.
Since moving to Northwest, an area where stone-fruit trees flourish, I have taken advantage of the all-too-brief apricot season. Each year I put up jars of apricot jams, apricot syrup, and this savory, Asian-inspired apricot sauce.
Apricot sauce is a tangy, sweet-sour sauce similar to the plum sauce that comes with every Chinese restaurant meal. I have no idea if Chinese home cooks sometimes substitute apricots for the plums, but it’s likely since apricots grow quite nicely in China.
My apricot sauce was due to desperation. One year, in my enthusiasm for all things fresh and sweet, I purchased a 40-pound box of fresh apricots. Believe me, 40 pounds is a lot of apricots. So I canned apricot halves, apricot jam, and apricot syrup. I made apricot paste, apricot leather and dried apricot pieces for fruitcake. I ate lots and lots of fresh apricots, and still had plenty of apricots sitting on the counter, slowly getting softer and softer. Most of the remaining apricots suffered from sun scald which affected their beauty, but not their taste. They were too large, too ripe, and had too many scars to can. Creativity was called for, which led to this savory sauce, adapted from a recipe found in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
Although the 40-pounds all-at-once blunder hasn’t been repeated, I do still purchase in bulk and make at least one batch of apricot sauce every summer. Use Asian apricot sauce as you would any savory plum sauce. Spoon it over dumplings or wontons, serve it with pork or chicken, or use it as a base for homemade BBQ sauce or stir-fry sauce.
Apricot’s natural tanginess shines through here, turning a traditional sweet-sour condiment into something with a more complex flavor. Once you start making savory apricot sauce, you may never return to everyday plum sauce again!
This recipe can also be doubled, although the cooking time will increase.
- 2 pounds fresh apricots
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ cup cider vinegar
Prepare a water bath canner and four half-pint canning jars.
Halve, pit and chop the apricots.
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat.
Cook until thick, with a syrup-like consistency. This will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
If desired, purée the sauce using an immersion blender.
Ladle into hot, clean jars leaving about ¼ inch head space. Top with the two-piece lids and rings, and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.