The Cottage Smallholder


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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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112 Comments

  1. Great recipe. Have 5 plum trees and wanted to make jam but recipes too hard. Your one is so easy. I added fresh chilli and cinnamon sticks. Going to try another batch with lemon zest and star anise. Thank you

  2. I’ve read that the pips of these little wild cherry plums contain toxins . Is that a concern ?

  3. bertha leeson

    Thank you for this simple, and very helpful site.

  4. I added to much water to the plums when I was boiling them and
    now I have a real runny jam so should I keep boiling it to reduce some of the liquid.

  5. Why do we warm the sugar before adding it to the plums? Why not add right to plums?

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