Urban Preserving: Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise

chopped plums

The day before Hurricane Irene hit the east coast, a massive box of fruit arrived on my doorstep. It was from the Washington State Fruit Commission, the folks behind the most fabulous website Sweet Preservation. A few weeks earlier, they’d emailed to ask if I’d be one of their Canbassadors again this year (last year’s recipes can be found here and here).

macerating plums

Last year, I got apricots and cherries. This year, it was a fun blend of Italian plums, apricots, nectarines and peaches. So far, I’ve made a small batch of lavender-infused, honey-sweetened apricot butter (you’ll see that one over on Simple Bites soon), an oven-roasted peach butter (it’s a technique I detail in my cookbook, but I’ll give you a little preview before the peaches are out of season) and this tiny batch of plum jam with star anise. The nectarines are still in the fridge, waiting for inspiration to strike.

truffle tremor

I only had about a pound of these little plums, so by necessity, this was a small batch. Chopped, there just over 2 cups of fruit. Combined with a moderate amount of sugar and three star anise flowers, I let this macerate at room temperature until it was beautifully syrup-y. Tasting every 15 minutes or so, I left the star anise in while it sat, but pulled them out before cooking, to ensure that I didn’t cross the line from gently flavored to something akin to Nyquil.

truffle tremor with plum star anise jam

As it was cooking, I tasted. Most of the time, I taste jam just once or twice as it cooks down. This time, I tried it at least five or six times because I was so in love with the way the plums played with the flavor of the star anise. As I tasted, I started thinking about the cheese I had in the fridge.

Awhile back, the folks from Cypress Grove sent me a few of their startling good goat cheeses. The idea was for me to dream up a few perfectly paired jams to match up with them. And while I hadn’t started this batch of jam thinking to couple it with one of those cheeses, it’s just gorgeous with the Truffle Tremor. The slight, mystical funkiness of that cheese just sings with the plums and their trace of star anise.

I’ve eaten the combination for lunch at least three times already. I can’t promise that there won’t be a fourth.

Recipe after the jump…

Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise

Yield: 1 Pint


  • 2 1/2 cups chopped Italian plums
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 star anise blossoms


  1. Combine chopped plums, sugar and star anise blossoms. Let sit for at least an hour, or until the fruit has gotten quite syrup-y.
  2. Put fruit in a medium-sized pan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the jam thickens and passes the plate test.
  3. Because this jam has such a small yield, you can skip the canning step and just pour it into the jars and pop it into the fridge. Or, you can pull out your small batch canning set-up and put up either one pint or two half pints (all the better to share with your friends!).

Disclosure: I received both the fruit and the cheese mentioned in this post at no cost to me. However, no money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

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70 Responses to Urban Preserving: Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise

  1. 51

    […] stumbled on the recipe very randomly last year over at Food in Jars and was so happy with it, I couldn’t wait to recreate it again. The spicing may sound […]

  2. 52

    […] some cheeses and I dreamed up a tasty little jam to serve along with those cheeses. My recipe for Plum Star Anise Jam was one of the preserves that […]

  3. 53
    Janet says:

    Hi Marisa! I’ve been a huge fan of yours for years and have promoted your books in canning workshops I’ve taught. I’m just ready to make this jam now, and I have a silly question: Do you take the star anise out before you put the jam in the jars? I’m thinking yes, but I just want to be sure. Thanks!

    • 53.1
      Marisa says:

      So sorry that the recipe in the book doesn’t specify! But yes, pull the star anise out so that it doesn’t over-infuse.

  4. 54
    Janet says:

    Ok, never mind – I was using the recipe from your book, which doesn’t specify, but just noticed the full directions above – thanks! (*sheepish grin*)

  5. 55
    Pamela G says:

    This plum jam with the star anise sounds VERY interesting. Here in the summer when the fruit is fresh I try to do things like this to keep for gift baskets at Christmas. It goes without saying I like to do more than one jar at a time. To me this is sort of like the little cookbook someone gave me for cupcakes and muffins where the recipe never makes more than 6 at a time. The thought was nice but laughable for me. I rarely do much baking for myself (I’m single and live on my own and now I’m diagnosed as Celiac and can’t eat gluten products anyway) and do quite a vast amount of baking for other people and functions of all different types.

    I realize you said you just had a small amount of plums on hand when you decided to do this recipe but did you ever try a larger batch? Would I increase the ingredients in the same proportions or should I keep the star anise down to a certain amount regardless of how many plums and how much sugar is used? Unfortunately I’ve learned that to double or triple recipes doesn’t necessarily mean every ingredients is increased in the same proportions. To get at least 6 or even 8 pints in a batch how many star anise would you suggest using? While I’ve used star anise in baking and other recipes before, its not a spice a have a great deal of experience with using. I’m definitely open to some suggestions here.

    • 55.1
      Marisa says:

      You are not going to want to make a batch of this jam that yields 6 or 8 pints of jam. The reason that this recipe works is in part it’s small size. You could follow this recipe and use 2-3 star anise pieces instead of the cardamom, but I wouldn’t make the batch size any bigger. http://foodinjars.com/2014/08/giveaway-anolon-advanced-11-piece-cookware-set/

      The reason why you don’t want to make a double batch is addressed here: http://foodinjars.com/2011/01/canning-101-why-you-shouldnt-double-batches-of-jam/

      • Jenny C says:

        Hi, Marisa,
        Long time fan of your site, and have made so many of your recipes with great results including this one.

        Today I made something similar, using ground cinnamon instead since the hubby isn’t much of an anise fan. Also made a version of your peach-plum-ginger. Given that the latter recipe calls for 7 c of fruit and this one is a “small batch” with only 2.5 c, wouldn’t doubling it really just take it back to a “normal” size? I did just that, and in fact, I went up to 7 c of just plums since I have a LOT from our farm share to use up. I cooked it about 20 minutes rather than the 10-15 above, but that’s comparable to the peach-plum-ginger recipe.

        I realize a recipe for 6-8 pints like the OP mentioned would be too big for regular kitchens, so I’m really asking about the small/normal batch comparison. (And we aren’t fussy about the set, so softer sets works for us anyway.)

  6. 56
    erin says:

    what’s the plate test, please

  7. 57
    Sarah V. says:

    How long should the jam be processed for, if I wanted to can it in a boiling water bath? (And would that be okay, without any added lemon juice/acid?)

    Thanks Marisa!

  8. 58
    Rose says:

    Marisa, could this jam recipe be shelf-stable too? My in-laws have an Italian plum tree, and I want to make some plum jam to store. Would I need to add lemon for canning??


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    […] stumbled on the recipe very randomly last year over at Food in Jars and was so happy with it, I couldn’t wait to recreate it again. The spicing may sound […]

  2. Giveaway: Assorted Goat Cheeses from Cypress Grove - Food in Jars - September 23, 2014

    […] some cheeses and I dreamed up a tasty little jam to serve along with those cheeses. My recipe for Plum Star Anise Jam was one of the preserves that […]

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