I have three varieties of plum trees in my yard. The earliest to ripen is the Santa Rosa. They look and smell so luscious, and then you bite into one. PUCKER!!!
The dark purple skin is so tempting, just buff off the natural, dusty “bloom” and reveal its glossy sheen. The mouth-watering sour will hit you like a brick wrapped in candy coating. When you get close to the pit, it isn’t any better. There’s only a thin layer of juiciness that is perfectly sweet. Some may say I’m exaggerating, but I’m not concerned with their frivolous opinions, only my own.
So what to do with those sour (to me) plums? Sugar is usually a good option. In fact, the varieties that are more sour are absolutely perfect for jams, syrups, and jellies. They naturally have higher pectin levels which help them set better with no added pectin needed, and the tart taste helps to offset the sugar added for these treats.
The birds tend to love these plums as much as we do. Unfortunately, they usually only peck away at one side, since that is what they can reach, and in the process also knock down several plums before they are quite ready. I cut away the pecked parts and use the rest without worry since they will be cooked at high heat. The under-ripe plums are allowed to “ripen” on the counter and are used as well. They won’t have as much flavor and definitely not as much sweetness, but they are a great source of pectin. Just be sure to use no more than 1/3 under-ripe plums or your product will be too sour and lacking in flavor.
Some quick notes before you begin:
This plum jam recipe uses no added pectin (I don’t use it for any of my jams and jellies), just plums and sugar. The plums have a high enough amount of pectin on their own.
You need to break this process up over two days, but they don’t have to be consecutive. The plums need to sit in the sugar to “macerate”, where the sugar causes the moisture to be sucked out of the plums.
Don’t try to cheat and add water to speed up the maceration, you will only make the cooking process take longer and could cause the pectin to break down. Definitely don’t try to cook it right after the sugar is added, it will only burn due to not enough liquid (ask me how I know).
Read here to see how to properly pit a plum without stabbing yourself, generally considered a bad thing.
I have created a post that gives all the information needed for those of you that may be brand new to making jams and jellies. It also has tips for those of you who may have struggled getting good results in the past. I have removed all that information from the original instructions below, just to make things less cluttered. Check that post out here!
If you are new to canning, you should also read my post on Food Canning 101. This goes over the basics of equipment and resources that you’ll find helpful.
Plum Jam (No Added Pectin) Recipe
- plums (any variety, fresh or frozen), pitted and chopped in chunks
- granulated sugar
For every 1 pound of pitted and chopped plums you will need 1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (use the smaller amount for sweeter plums, and the higher amount if they are more tart). The plums need to be cut in medium sized chunks. Once you have weighed your plums, put them in a non-reactive bowl and add the proper amount of sugar. Stir to mix completely, cover, and set aside. If you intend to make the jam the next day, leave the plums someplace cool, but not the refrigerator. If you need more time, you can put the plum mix in the refrigerator or even the freezer.
You shouldn’t process more than 6 cups of the plum mix at a time unless you have a larger than usual sized stock pot. It adds too much time to the processing which can cause your pectin to break down, and you can also have the jam foam up too much where it can overflow the pot.
Place the plum mixture into a large stockpot fitted with a thermometer. Bring your liquid to a boil* stirring only occasionally to keep the pulp from burning on the bottom and continue to boil** until the gelling point is reached. This is 10 degrees above the boiling point of water at your elevation. For me at near sea-level, I remove my pot from the heat the moment it hits 222 degrees.
If your jam threatens to foam over your pot, wave a wooden spoon through the bubbles to break them up. Do not stir! Just break up the bubbles.
Work quickly to fill jars and put the lids on them, one at a time. Screw the rings on snugly, and turn the jars upside down. This heats the lids and ensures that you will have a good and clean seal.
Once all jars are filled, flip each one back over carefully as they will still be hot. Set them somewhere out of the way to cool completely. Once the jars are cool you should see that they have gelled. This can actually take a couple of days to get a complete set. Remove rings from lids, wipe down rims and rings with a clean, damp cloth, check that the flat lid is sealed well, and then replace rings. Any jars that didn’t seal, or any partially filled jars, should be placed in the refrigerator for immediate use. Enjoy!