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Two wild plum jam recipes

Photo of a windfall of wild plums under the tree

Photo: Wild plums make delicious jam

Here are two of our wild plum jam recipes. Wild plums taste quite tart, similar to damsons. They are excellent for jam and jelly and both are not too sweet.

The following recipes describe two methods for making wild plum jam.

If your plums are barely ripe (still pretty firm) go for the first one, if they are soft and ripe go for the second. The barely ripe recipe will have a sharper taste.

Barely ripe wild plum jam recipe:

Ingredients:
900g/2lb of barely ripe wild plums
900g/2lb of preserving sugar

Method:

  1. Wash the plums and discard any damaged fruit.
  2. Slit the plums with a knife. This will allow the stones to float to the surface during cooking so that they can be easily removed.
  3. Place plums in a non metallic bowl, sprinkle over sugar and mix to coat the plums.
  4. Cover with a clean tea cloth and leave overnight.
  5. The following day put plums and sugar into a large heavy bottomed saucepan (or preserving pan) and heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Bring the jam to the boil and continue to boil very rapidly for about 8-10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point. At this stage carefully remove the stones as they float up to the surface, with a slotted spoon. (What is setting point? See tricks and tips below).
  7. When the jam has set, carefully pour into warm, sterilised jars, using a ladle or small jug (How to sterilise jars? See tricks and tips below)
  8. Cover the jars with tight fitting screw-top lids, or waxed disks and cellophane pot covers (waxed disks, wax facing upwards and plastic covers secured with plastic bands).
  9. when cold and store in a cool, dark place, away from damp.

Ripe wild plum jam recipe:
Ingredients:
900g/2lb of ripe wild plums
900g/2lb of white granulated sugar – if you prefer a more tart jam cut the sugar by a quarter – I prefer less sugar myself
½ pint/275ml of water
Method:

    1. Wash the plums and discard any damaged fruit.
    2. Put the plums and water into a large heavy bottomed saucepan (or preserving pan) and simmer gently until the skins split and they are soft.
    3. Meanwhile, warm the sugar in a low oven for ten minutes and add to the fruit.
    4. Stir gently over a low heat until you are sure that all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
    5. Turn up the heat to its highest setting and, stirring frequently, let the fruit boil rapidly for 8-10 minutes (this is called a rolling boil).
    6. Remove the stones with a slotted spoon during the boiling process.
    7. Test for set (What is set/ setting point? See tricks and tips below).
    8. If the jam has not set, continue to boil rapidly and test at five minute intervals.
    9. When the jam has set carefully pour into warm, sterilised jars, using a ladle or small jug. (How to sterilise jars? See tricks and tips below)
    10. Cover the jars with tight fitting screw-top lids, or waxed disks and cellophane pot covers (waxed disks, wax facing upwards and plastic covers secured with plastic bands).
    11. Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place, away from damp.

Tips and tricks:
Jam “set” or “setting point”:
Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method. Before you start to make the jam, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jam, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jam is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.

Sterilising the jars:
We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c/140c for fan assisted. When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.
Damson Jam: The recipes above work well with damsons.


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111 Comments

  1. pandora norris

    Thank you so much for a simple way to make plum jelly.
    I will enjoy doing this.
    Be blessed….

    • Beverly Watts

      Thank you so much for such a simple recipe. My husband was born and raised and still lives West Columbia, SC. We have lots of wild plums! I had never had them (I’m a transplant), but they’re delicious! His mother used to make plum jam while he was growing up and I’m always looking for recipes that are close to his heart. Thank you, again!!!!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Pandora,

    It’s great that you are making plum jelly when over here the plums are still tiny bobbles on our trees (they finished blossoming about 3 months ago in England).

    I’d love to hear how it turns out.

  3. shelly

    Tried the ripe plum jam receipe and LOVED IT! So did the entire family. Simple and delicious. Thank You.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Shelly

    So pleased that you liked the recipe. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Lanie

    What is preserving sugar? Is it the same as white sugar?

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Preserving sugar is sugar with added pectin. This helps the jam to set. If you don’t have preserving sugar crack open a small handful of plum stones and put the kernels (in a piece of muslin) in the jam. They will help the jam to set and can be easily fished out.

    You can use ordinary granulated sugar too. It will just take longer to set.

    • We were just given several large boxes of wild “American Plums” (prunus americana) this morning and started searching for recipes. I was wondering about the pits and how best to get them out. Thanks for the tip — sounds MUCH better than bending over the sink or a bowl for as long as it will take for this many plums!! Sometimes one can get “over-blessed.” ;-)

  7. Thanks for the recipes! I’ll be trying the tart one tomorrow.

    Just informationally – in the U.S., jelly is clear, without pieces of fruit or peel in it – jam is thicker, and contains pieces of fruit and sometimes peel. And fruit butter (apple butter, peach butter, etc.) is not as thick as jam, and is just thickened cooked fruit pulp and sugar. Very tasty!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Angel,

    Thanks for dropping by and setting me straight on the jelly/jam/fruit butter route. I have never heard of fruit butter, I think that it must be similar to our fruit cheese.

  9. I was having some problems having the sugar harden on the bottom of the pan even with constant stirring.
    I added about 2 tbsp of water and it helped, If it won’t set what do I do?

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Cindy,

    I’m not sure what happened to you. The sugar has to be dissolved completely before bring the jam to a rolling boil. This stops it sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

    I hope that it worked out in the end for you.

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