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:

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


  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:
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

    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.


  1. Tere Stool

    The flavor is great but I almost made roll-ups! Could almost be hard candy. I need a thermometer.

    • Fiona Nevile

      There is an answer to your problem here

  2. Joan Lambert Bailey

    I finally made the jam ( with relative success. Your tips and advice about the stones were really helpful. It turns out the pits of the ume are almond-shaped and textured, and they did afford a slightly burnt taste before being removed. Another batch will hopefully be underway this weekend. Thanks again!

  3. Betty Dahlstedt

    Hello Kaira:
    Yes, the kernels are inside the stone. I have not tried to use that method (yet) However, I have made the wild plum jam with regular sugar and no added pectin. I think you just have to boil it a bit longer to get it to set. Start with a small amount of fruit first and see what happens. Let us know how it works for you. Good Luck.

  4. Hello,
    thank you for these recipes.
    Where I live (Uruguay) there is no preserving sugar (with added pectin) and I shopped around for pectin and couldn’t find any.
    I guess I will have to do without it. Can I use regular sugar? What can I do to make it set? How long should I boil it for?
    You mentioned putting kernels in… is that the stone or I have to open the stones to get the kernels? I’m sorry, I’m not sure what kernels are 🙁

  5. Joan Lambert Bailey

    Many thanks! This was really helpful. I’ve kept the plums soaking in a minimal amount of hachimitsu until I got your feedback. Thanks for being so fast, too. Here’s hoping the jam works!

  6. I agree with Veronica, I think it’s to avoid breaking a tooth or even worse choking on one. I left some stones in a damson jam I made last year and wouldn’t do it again. Even though I clearly marked the labels (beware of stones) a friend still managed to crunch down on one! Luckily her tooth was fine but I felt so bad about it and it could have been so much worse. I just thought you would see the stones when spreading the jam but obviously mistakes can happen.

  7. I think it’s to avoid toothbreaking, Joan, and for aesthetic reasons. Sometimes I crack the stones of apricots and put a few of the kernels in the jam, because they give a nice bitter-almond flavour. I don’t know if you can do that with plums.

    If I were you I’d remove the stones either beforehand or by fishing them out while the jam is cooking (the latter might be easier if there are a lot of them).

  8. Joan Lambert Bailey

    I’m looking to use up some plums that have been soaking while making umehachimitsu. They’ve soaked for about six months or more in a combination of vinegar and honey, and I strained off the remainder of the tart beverage this morning to put up a first batch of yuzushu.

    The plums are very soft, and I think they would make an interesting if not possibly excellent jam. I’m wondering though, if I need to remove the stones. Are stones removed for convenience, i.e. in order to not break teeth, or for sterility reasons, i.e. bad molds can grow on them in the jar?

    Many thanks!

  9. multitaskinmamma

    ohhhh my goodness… how totally scrummy is this jam , im totally new to jam making ( although a country girl @ heart… picked what i thought were huge sloes and was well chuffed and discovered they were damsons or wild plums , couldnt tell you which so made a demi john of damson gin instead of sloe and making your fully ripe fruit jam too, with a quater less sugar, cant wait for it to cool , many thanks …there goes my diet …!!

  10. My husband has just bought home 6lbs of plums he bought from local roadside fruit and veg shop. They vary in ripeness but mostly quite ripe and he did say what they are called but I forget! They are a dark purple colour and quite large. I want to make jam with them – will the ‘ripe recipe’ work for these plums as they are not the wild variety? And can I add ginger to the jam – if so should it be raw grated or ground? I’ll do them in 2 batches of 3lbs as not everyone likes ginger. Thanks for any help.

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