You will love this classic recipe for Easy Plum Jam, made with sweet, ripe, juicy plums at the height of their season. It is the ultimate way to preserve this delicious stone fruit to enjoy throughout the coming months.
Why we love this recipe:
My simple, traditional recipe contains just four ingredients – plums, sugar, lemon juice and water. It does not require the addition of pectin.
In this recipe I will show you, with step-by-step instructions, how easy it is to make homemade Plum Jam.
You’ll love it because:
- Jam making is a great way to preserve some of nature’s seasonal bounty to enjoy throughout the cooler months ahead – if it lasts that long.
- Homemade jam is infinitely superior to shop-bought. There are no unwelcome additives, artificial preservatives or thickeners that you may find in a commercially prepared jam. For me, one of the most important parts of home cooking is the knowledge that I control the quality of the ingredients.
- You can use this Plum Jam in so many ways. Spread it on toast, serve with scones and cream (delicious!), make mini tarts, fill sponge cakes or drizzle over our No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream. You are only limited by your imagination.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Plums – I often use a red plum with ruby-red flesh. It gives the jam a beautiful colour. However, you can, of course, use the plum variety of your choice, as shown below.
Sugar – regular granulated sugar is best.
Lemon juice – use freshly squeezed lemon juice. The juice is vital as it aids in the setting of the jam and balances the sweetness.
Water – filtered tap water.
Step by Step Instructions:
To begin, place two small saucers or plates in the freezer. You will use these to test when the jam is set.
Sterilise the jars by heating in the oven. Full directions are in the recipe below.
- Gather all of your ingredients.
- Wash the plums and remove any blemishes. Cut the fruit in half, remove the stone and cut the pieces in half again.
- Add the quartered plums, along with water, to a large, wide saucepan.
- Bring the fruit to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook with the lid on until the fruit is soft.
- Then, add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring the fruit to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.
- After about 5 minutes, start to check for setting point. You will not have any trouble getting this jam to set as plums are high in pectin.
- If your jam has any scum, remove it with a spoon.
- Alternatively, add a knob of butter and stir to remove the scum.
- Allow the jam to sit for 5 minutes to allow the fruit to settle.
- When ready, ladle the Plum Jam into hot, sterilised jars and seal with the lids. After cooling, wipe the jars to remove any spills, label with the date and jam variety and store in a cool, dark place.
- Enjoy your homemade Easy Plum Jam!
When making your own preserves, always ensure you are sterilising the jars you will store them in. This is very simple to do:
- Choose glass jars with an airtight, metal lid and ensure they have been washed in the dishwasher or by hand in hot soapy water then rinsed well.
- Check that the metal lids do not have rubber inserts, as these could melt in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 130 Degrees C (270 F) and leave the jars for 15-20 minutes.
You can use recycled glass jars with metal lids that are in good condition or purchase new ones. Jars which have contained pickles are generally not suitable as they often hold the aroma. Save these for your own chutneys or pickles.
You will not need any special equipment to make this recipe. You need a large, wide saucepan. The large surface area allows faster water evaporation, giving the jam a concentrated flavour. Without a large saucepan, there is the risk of it boiling over.
Avoid aluminium, copper or iron pans; the acid in the fruit may react with the pan, giving the jam a metallic taste.
As well, I use a long-handled wooden spoon to keep my hand away from the bubbling jam.
Tips for success and FAQs:
Choose good quality, freshly picked fruit. Ripe plums with firm skins will contain more pectin and give the best result. Do not use plums that are over-ripe, soft or bruised as they may cause the jam to spoil.
If you follow the recipe instructions precisely and your jars are thoroughly sterilised, the Plum Jam should be shelf-stable for a year, possibly longer. No canning is required. When you open a jar, store it in the fridge. Always use a clean spoon to remove the jam.
No, you don’t need to peel the plums. The skins contain high amounts of pectin which aids with getting the jam to set.
Conventional jam requires a lot of sugar. When you see it weighed out it is slightly alarming but please don’t reduce the amount of sugar. The sugar not only sweetens the fruit but it helps the jam to set and acts as a preservative. If you reduce the sugar, your jam may not be shelf stable.
Lemon plays an important role in jam-making. It is high in acid and pectin, both essential for the setting of the jam. As well, the acidity of the lemon helps balance the sweetness.
Pectin is a naturally occurring starch that is found in varying degrees in fruits and vegetables. It is what makes jams and jellies firm when they are cool. When combined with acid and sugar, and cooked to a high temperature, it forms a gel.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
We absolutely love making the most of in-season produce to enjoy all year round. Here are some more of our favourite preserve recipes:
- Apricot Jam
- Preserved Chillies in Oil
- Fresh Peach Chutney
- Lemon Marmalade
- Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Grapefruit Marmalade
My Easy Plum Jam recipe is a great place to start if this is your first time making jam as plums are high in pectin. However, if it has not set as much as you would like, don’t worry, it will still be delicious stirred into some plain yoghurt or served over our Vanilla Ice Cream. Or, if it is slightly over-set and is very firm, it will be a lovely accompaniment on a cheese board.
Once you’ve perfected your jam making technique you will have the ability and equipment to make fresh jam for years to come. You just need to invest a little of your time; when you finish and see your own produce lined up, you will know that it was time well spent.
This post was originally published in April 2019. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
Easy Plum Jam
- 11 x 250ml (8.5 oz) jars (See notes)
- 2 kg (4 1/2 pounds) plums See Note 1
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- 1 1/2 kg (3 1/3 pounds) granulated sugar See Notes 2 and 3
- 1 1/2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice See Notes 4 and 5
To Sterilise the Jars:
- Preheat the oven to 130 Degrees C (270F).Use glass jars, either new or recycled, with an airtight, metal lid. If recycling jars, ensure that the jars do not have cracks or chips and the lids are in good condition. Discard any lids that are pitted or rusted. See Note 6.Wash the jars and lids. If washing by hand, use hot, soapy water and then rinse them well. Alternatively, wash them in the dishwasher.Place jars and lids on a baking tray. Heat in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
To Make the Jam:
- Place 2 small plates or saucers in the freezer to chill – see Note 7.
- Wash the plums and remove any blemishes. To halve the plums, start at the stem end and run a sharp knife around the plum, following the naturally occurring marking. Use the tip of the knife to remove the stones.Cut the halves in half again. If you don’t want your jam to have chunks of fruit, cut the plums into eighths.
- Place the plums and water in a large, wide saucepan. See Note 8.
- Bring the plums to a simmer over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally using a long-handled wooden spoon. See Note 9.
- Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the plums are soft, 15-20 minutes. At this stage, if you prefer less chunky jam, you could blend it using a hand-held stick blender. Take off the heat to do this.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir frequently, with the saucepan uncovered, until the sugar dissolves.
- Increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil for 5-15 minutes. You need to be vigilant at this point. Stir frequently to avoid the jam catching and burning on the bottom of the pan. Boiling time will vary depending on the size of your saucepan and the heat that you apply.
- After about 5 minutes rapid boiling, turn the heat off under the jam. Spoon a small amount of jam onto a chilled plate or saucer to check if it is starting to set. I use the wrinkle test. When the jam has cooled, push it gently with your fingertip. If it wrinkles, even slightly, it is ready. If it remains liquid, put the jam back on the heat for a further 5 minutes and check again. See Note 10.
- You can also use a thermometer to check for setting point. To use this method, you will need a sugar thermometer. Clip the thermometer to the side of your pan. When the thermometer reads 104C (220F) the jam is ready.
- When the jam reaches setting point, remove the pan from the heat. If there is any scum on the surface of the jam, add a teaspoon of butter and stir well. It will dissolve the scum.
- Let the jam stand for about 10 minutes to allow the fruit to settle. This will ensure that any pieces of fruit will be evenly distributed throughout the jam. Without standing, the fruit will rise to the top of the jar.
- Stir the jam and carefully ladle it into the heated, sterilised jars. You need to be very careful. A splash or spill from hot jam would result in a serious burn. I recommend that you wear clothing with long sleeves. Additionally, this is not the occasion to have children nearby.Immediately seal the jars tightly with sterilised lids.
- The jam will still be liquid when you ladle it into your jars. It can take up to 48 hours to completely set. See Note 11.
- When cool, remove any spills from the jars and label with the date and name. Store the jam in a cool, dark place. When using the jam, always use a clean, dry spoon to avoid contamination. After opening a jar, as a further precaution, store it in the refrigerator.
- Ensure your fruit is freshly picked and of good quality. Avoid fruit that is bruised or over-ripe. The plums contain pectin which aids in the jam setting. If your fruit is older, it will contain less pectin. The colour of the jam will vary depending on the variety of fruit that you use.
- My plums were perfectly ripe and sweet so I used a fruit/jam ratio of 1 kilo of fruit to ¾ kilo sugar (1 pound fruit to ¾ pound of sugar). If the fruit you use is slightly unripe and quite tart you may need to use a ratio of equal weight fruit and sugar.
- Do not reduce the amount of sugar. Whilst the sugar sweetens the fruit it also acts as a preservative and helps the jam to set. If you reduce the sugar, your jam may not be shelf-stable and may become mouldy.
- The Australian tablespoon is 20ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15ml or 3 teaspoons. Please adjust the measurement if necessary.
- Lemon juice not only balances the sweetness of the sugar, but it also contains acid and pectin which help to set the jam.
- Properly sterilising your jars is an essential process to remove bacteria that could cause your preserves to spoil. Wash the jars and lids either in the dishwasher or by hand in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Do not dry them with a tea towel. Place jars and lids on a baking tray. If you are using Kilner jars with rubber seals, be sure to remove the seals before placing the jars in the oven. The dry heat of the oven would damage the seals. Boil the seals separately in a saucepan for about 10 minutes. Heat the jars in the oven for at least 20 minutes. When your preserves are ready to bottle, use thick oven mitts or jar tongs to remove the jars. Do not place them on a cold surface as they may shatter. I place mine on a wooden chopping board which I cover with a tea towel. Always sterilise a few more jars than you think you will need. It is better to have too many jars than not enough.
- The chilled plates are used to quickly cool the jam when testing the setting point.
- Always choose your widest saucepan that has enough height to enable the jam to boil vigorously. More surface area means the liquid will evaporate faster; having sufficient height means you can boil the jam at a higher heat and maintain the fresh flavour of the plums. Avoid aluminium, copper or iron pans; the acid in the fruit may react with the pan, giving the jam a metallic taste.
- Do not use a metal spoon, it will become very hot. A long-handled wooden spoon is important to avoid being burnt by a splash from boiling jam.
- My jam reaches its setting point about 5 minutes after it begins to boil rapidly. Boiling time will vary depending on the size of your saucepan and the heat that you apply.
- If your finished jam has not set as much as you would like, don’t worry, it will still be delicious stirred into some plain yoghurt or served over our No-churn Vanilla Ice Cream. Or, if it is slightly over-set and is very firm, it will be a lovely accompaniment on a cheese board.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on one whole jar. The nutritional information is an estimate only.