Plum Jam :: Recipe


One of the first things we planted in our yard, when we moved to Santa Barbara thirteen years ago, is a plum tree. I adore caring for fruit trees, and we’ve always planted a variety of trees and other edible goodies on all the properties where we’ve lived.

Our Santa Rosa plum gets plenty of sun, is carefully pruned (by me!!! I love pruning shears and ladders), and every year we have a three week blast of fruit that turns us into domestic plum mongers. We dash about, making jam, and fruit leather. We give bags and bags of fruit away, we make plum clafouti, and plum crisps, and we keep a bowl of fresh plums on the counter–that whispers an unspoken, mandatory message–MEYERS MUST EAT PLUMS NOW.

This year, the bounty was overwhelming, and one Saturday we woke up to discover there was a garage sale happening right across the street. We hastily set up store, and this little mister made himself a $30 profit in a short morning of calling out to the folks perusing the old pots and pans at Cindy’s house.



Because I love to share things coming out of my kitchen with folks, and because this summer has been more about sharing plum jam and kumquat marmalade, than bread, here is a recipe that I make year after year, sun or fog, that you might like to try!

Plum Jam

We are not really a jam-buying family; we only eat what we make from the fruit we grow. I don’t like sweet, sugared-up jams and jellies–I prefer them closer to the natural state, so my fruit recipes reflect that. Since there is less sugar involved in this recipe than what you typically find, in fact there is NO refined SUGAR involved; I use honey; it takes a little longer to cook the jam down to the consistency that I like. I don’t mind slow when it tastes this good…

  • 5 cups of chopped plumsโ€”no pits (our tree is a Santa Rosa plum, make sure you leave the peel on the fruit!)
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 cup plus a little drizzle more of honey

Put honey, lemon juice and cut plums in pot and stir. Let mash sit for an hour.

Close your doors and shut your windows before you turn on the heat. Bees like to zoom in and examine what sort of honey you happen to be cooking with…. Clover? Orange Blossom? Wildflower?ย Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring and skimming foam with a large metal spoon. Cook at medium heat for about 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to a low, low simmer and cook another 30-40 minutes to reduce water content and thicken. Stir occasionally.

Your jam is now done! You can scoop it into glass jars and keep it in the fridge for a long while, at least a month or two (or more–never really tried to see how long!). You can freeze it. I always can a number of jars by ladling the jam into clean, sterilized mason jars, then processing them for 20 minutes in a roiling, boiling pot of water.

Make sure you share! This jam is especially wonderful on a buttered piece of sourdough toast, added to a fruit smoothie, or mixed in with some hot herbal tea on a cold winter day…



28 thoughts on “Plum Jam :: Recipe

  1. I love homeade jam and jelly! Our favorite kind is from a prolific flower that grows everywhere here called “fireweed”. It’s amazing, I posted recently. I can’t stand buying jam or jelly at the store, we go through so much of it! Time to go pick blueberries and mix it with some rhubarb for the next one. Your tree is beautiful!

  2. We made plum foccacia several times (yeasty sweet dough with thinly sliced plums atop)! I think your family would โ™ฅ it, too. I wish I could stop by and get some of yours… Olivia loves plums. Spring 2012 Rob bought a plum tree and a pear tree (with a branch of the opposite sex grafted on, so the bees could pollinate the flowers and we’d have fruit, seemed like we’d be getting a lot, as we had quite a few little green fruit developing, but alas, now there are only 2)! Hopefully next year will be better.

    • Thanks for the recipe idea, Marfa.
      Of course next year will be better! Your tree is young, and still establishing its roots and figuring itself out. It’s natural for a plum/pear to have a natural fruit drop. Hang in there!

    • Hmmmm. It’s been almost a whole year, and I make several small batches, so I’m just guessing that it makes 4-5 pint-sized jars? Maybe a bit more?!!!! Blessings, Caitlin!

  3. Hello Jane, I have already cooked my plums. I now have about 5 gallons of plum juices and pieces (cooked plums have been pressed through a colander to remove pits and keep as much pulp as possible). I wanted to use honey instead of refined sugar this year to make jam. Will your recipe still work if I reheat the mixture with the recipe ingredients?
    Thank you, Robin

    • Hey Robin, so awesome that you have FIVE gallons of cooked plums! I’ve made jam from cooked plums that I’ve frozen and stored, then thawed and reheated. I don’t know why the recipe wouldn’t work. The only thing to consider is that sometimes when you double or triple (or mega-quintuple!) a jam recipe, the outcome isn’t quite the same as using the original measurements. So just watch the batch as it cooks. If you find it’s not thickening, then cook it longer at a lower temperature (careful not to scorch.)

      All the best!

  4. I can’t wait to try this. I have been looking for a sugar-less recipe for a long time. I have 2 toddler boys and sugar isn’t one of our food groups haha at least trying not limit it as much as possible. I’ll let you know how it turns out ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for sharing!

  5. Pingback: A Month of Sugar-Free Meals: What we ate during No Sugar September - Emily C.GardnerEmily C.Gardner

  6. Do you know the shelf life of this jam? Can it be stored in the cupboard till its open or does it have to be stored in the fridge? Thanks

    • If you can the filled jars in boiling water (boil the filled and capped mason jars for about 20 mins) then it will stay on the shelf easily for a year. You can also freeze it. In the fridge it will last the typical amount of time. More than a month, but definitely not six months since there are no preservatives used…

  7. I wish I’d seen this earlier…we made plum jam this summer, but used sugar instead of honey. โ™ฅ Our tree keeps getting bigger and bigger, so next year, I’ll be using your recipe!

    • I’ve never made pumpkin jam at all! Sounds wonderful. Making jams with honey is my preferred method, and though you don’t always get exactly the same texture (I think it’s better than sugar) I feel that the taste is superior. The thing about canning is trial and error is the very best way to figure out just what you like. Pumpkins are abundant–so go for it! And let us know how it turns out

  8. Hi Jane,
    Going to give your jam recipe a try, have failed miserably with other recipes but we’ve had a lot of rain in our Australian summer so have heaps of plums this year and the our bees have given us so much honey so I will have another go……fingers crossed.

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