Blackberry Winner + Plums in Honey

September 2, 2009(updated on August 30, 2021)

italian plums

I had such a wonderful time over the weekend in Seattle. I met so many amazing people, reunited with a dear old friend, taught a really fun canning class and saw my parents for the first time in nearly nine months. I have bunches of pictures from the weekend, and so expect a post in the next couple of days that will feature those photos, along with my thoughts about the first Canning Across American weekend (preview: it was a rousing success and I can’t wait for next year).

Before I start talking about plums, there’s a bit of giveaway business to wrap up. The blackberry jam goes to lucky number 13, which is the comment left by Linus (who is a web developer and pickle maker – nice combo). He also seems to be Philly-based, which means that I get to skip the post office this time around and see if I can’t hand deliver this particular jar.

Last week, before I left town, I made tentative plans to meet up with the Philadelphia half of Doris and Jilly Cook to take a Mood’s Farm field trip just a couple of hours after I returned from the trip. My parents thought this plan crazy, assuming I’d need the rest of the day to recover from the red-eye flight. Thanks to my exhaustion and an innate ability to sleep just about anywhere, I landed feeling fairly refreshed and ready to take on an afternoon of fruit picking.

whole plums in jars

The sheer abundance at the farmstand merely hinted at the bounty we’d encounter in the fields. The peach trees were hanging heavy with fruit and the raspberry canes were covered in the largest, most delicious berries I’ve met in about twenty years. We had plans to pick blackberries as well, but mid-picking decided that our containers would be better used for the raspberries.

When we headed back to the city, the station wagon carried nearly 100 pounds of fruits and vegetables. My personal haul included 2 1/2 pounds of raspberries (at $3.75 a pound, they were by far the most expensive item I’ve ever gotten at Mood’s), nearly 20 pounds of rosy peaches, two quarts of Gala apples (those are just for eating, I’ll get some fresh Granny Smith’s later in the season for apple sauce and butter) and four quarts each of Bartlett pears (for butter), Seckel pears (for canning whole and pickling) and Italian plums.

plums in jars with syrup

I haven’t tackled the pears yet, but last night I turned the raspberries into jam (stay tuned, I’ll have that recipe and giveaway up later in the week) and I canned four quarts of the plums in a honey syrup. Canning whole fruit like this couldn’t be easier, because beyond washing, the fruit needs no prepping (some recipes recommend piercing the skin with a sharp fork several times. I skipped it and the skins only barely cracked). You simply pack the raw, whole fruit as tightly as you can into your cleaned jars, pour the syrup in to cover, shake out the air bubbles and process. I tucked a cinnamon stick into each jar, but that’s as fancy as I got. The quarts process for 25 minutes in a boiling water bath and then you’re done.

So, if you have a glut of plums, this is a great way to handle them quickly and easily. When winter comes, you can eat them whole with yogurt or ice cream, make a cobbler with them, or even stew them down further and eat them over oatmeal. So, so good. Recipe after the jump.

5 from 1 vote

Whole Plums Preserved in Honey Syrup


  • 1 1/2 cups of honey
  • 4 cups of water
  • enough plums to fill four quart jars I used three of my four quarts
  • 4 cinnamon sticks a vanilla bean sliced into four pieces or four star anise bits


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and water and bring to a boil.
  • Bring a canning pot or large stock pot to a boil. Put your lids into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Clean canning jars and pack the plums in as tightly as you can. Insert your cinnamon stick, vanilla bean or star anise. Fill jars with honey syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  • Wipe rims to remove all traces of any spilled honey syrup, apply lids and tightened rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes (starting time when the pot returns to a boil after the jars have been placed inside).
  • When processing time is up, remove the jars to a cutting board or towel-lined countertop (as they cool and seal, they might spit out a bit of sticky syrup, so don’t let them cool on any surface that can’t handle that). Let the jars cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
  • When jars are completely cool, remove the rings, check the seals and wipe the jars down to remove any sticky residue. Label and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

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73 thoughts on "Blackberry Winner + Plums in Honey"

  • Okay, that IS easy. And now I can’t wait for this weekend – I have plans to hit a farmstand/u-pick with my mom on Sunday, and I fully intend to come back with heaps of berries and plums ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Canned this weekend. Had a wonderful time. I canned steak and burger sauce yesterday that used plums. I made raspberry jam only with berries and sugar. It gelled very well. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. Oh, our fruitstand/pick your own is always amazed at the amount we can around here. I have comments like, “I know where I will be this winter”. After seeing all the peaches I will be putting up. If I can do it anyone can do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m so sad I didn’t get to go on that picking trip with you. My mouth is watering for some raspberries, plums and peaches!

  • I was contemplating the fact that I don’t have to go to work on Friday and on of the thoughts that drifted through my mind was hey – maybe I should see what they’re picking at Mood’s…

    You have totally hooked me.

  • Hi I was wondering if you have tried this method with peaches? Or if you have any suggestions for spiced peaches using the whole fruit? So glad I discovered your blog! I have a mature fig tree and have been making fig jam or the past three weeks but am ready to move on to peaches soon and would love to hear if you have any tried and true favorites. Thanks!

    1. We cannot get figs in this part of the country, would you consider selling me some of our fig jam? I would love to have some for my Christmas recipes.

  • Such a fabulous day in the fields! Never has my car smelled so good. I dehydrated half the plums and will try this with the other half. Please do tell how you canned those Seckel pears…

  • Adrienne, it really is easy. When you shop for your plums, remember that the smaller ones work the best for something like this, as they’re easier to fit in the jar.

    Amelia, people always say the same thing to me. When people hear that I can the way I do, they also say, “I know where I’m coming during the next power outage.”

    Sharon, I haven’t tried this exact method with peaches, but I have done peach halves in a regular sugar syrup a couple of times this summer to good result. They get halved, peeled and packed cut-side down into pint jars. Top with a honey or sugar syrup (google “sugar syrup for canning” for a recipe), add lids and process. You can also add bits of flavor enhancers, just like in this recipe.

    Doris, I haven’t done anything with the Seckel pears yet, but I’m planning on tackling them tonight. I found a pickle recipe for them that sounds intriguing…

  • This past weekend I canned the Sugar Plums in Syrup from the CAA website – adding vanilla & cinnamon to the syrup. Next year I’ll have to try the honey syrup instead. Growing up, one of my favorite parts of canned plums was the lemonade my mom would make with the syrup from the jars.

    While I canned solo this year, I plan to host a party next summer – so many friends have commented that they would like to learn after seeing my blog & pictures of the results.

  • oh my GAWD. I can’t even imagine how incredible these would taste on a dreary slushy winter day. Total swoon.

  • Those plums look a.w.e..s.o.m.e
    I can almost taste them on top of some pound cake come January. Thanks for the great, quick lesson in whole-fruit canning!

  • This looks delicious! We have a plum tree in our backyard and I have been looking for a quick way to can them. My question is – What about the pits? Can I remove them or would this ruin the process some how? I was thinking it would be nice to have them already pitted for use in cobblers and such during the winter. Thanks!

  • I just made a batch. One of the jars didn’t seal, so I opened it. They taste just like Christmas! They are so good!

    How to you keep the color? I used Italian plums and the color faded and there was some fruit shrinkage. They don’t look so good, but OMG they are wonderful!

    How does chlorine affect the canning process? I can taste the chlorine in our water and am wondering if

  • So, I did this last night. I did remove air bubbles before I processed these, but after processing there are huge air gaps at the top. The seal formed, but a couple of plums are not immersed in honey. Do I need to fridge this or will they be ok?

  • Okay so I have a glut of plums and more on the way from my MIL. I had planned to make some jams, and chutney and the like, but really need half pint jars (which BTW are not cheap) I do have quart and pint jars and I like the look (and ease) of this recipe. My question is what do you do with them, eat them later? Can I use the honey syrup for a later purpose as well?
    Just curiouse. I am probably going to be doing this this weekend, and then will find a use for them later.

    1. Tree, you can definitely use the honey syrup later. You could cook it down into more of a syrup and stir it into tea, use it to sweeten yogurt or drizzle it on top of pancakes.

      As far as the plums go, you can slice them up and eat them on top of a slice of cake, waffles, yogurt, ice cream or french toast. You can cook them into a dimple cake like this one: You can cook them down into a compote. You can spear them out of the jars and eat them standing over the sink. They are versatile and delicious!

  • Oh wow I got the blackberry jam today (hand delivered by Marisa’s lovely hubby-to-be)! I think the jam and I are going to be spending some quality time together tonight. THANKS!!

  • Adrienne, the same thing happened to me. I made these last night, and the jars were all full when I took them out of the water bath. I peeked at the jars this morning, and the water level in all of them is one to two inches below the rim of the jar. They were sputtering a little last night, but I thought that was normal, so I didn’t worry to much. This is mt first canning experience:

    1. What did I do wrong?
    2. Can I refrigerate the fruit, or is this a total loss?

    Thank you.

  • I just came across a friend with an Italian Prune Plum tree. Do you know if these are good for jam as well? They don’t seem quite as tangy and flavorful as other plums, but maybe it’s different when they’re jammed (they seem good baked). The whole lack-of-bursting makes me think they probably have pretty sturdy skins, which I worry would be bothersome in jam…

  • I finally found time to make these, and they look kinda spooky but good. The liquid is dark and the plums themselves look light, and they’re floating at the top of the jars. Is that normal?

    Of course now that they’re preserved, I don’t want to open them right away to see how they taste. Rats, should have done a tiny jar with just one so I could sample that one. Lesson learned, I’ll do that in the future!

    And I’ll also buy smaller jars and do smaller fruit in future – I had to borrow an immense pot to fit the one big quart jar I bought. The other jar I bought was a bit smaller – it held just three plums instead of six. I guess my fruit was bigger than yours, because I don’t seem to have fit as many in!

    But I’m so glad to have found a place here (China) to buy canning jars. Expensive but worth it. Hm, what to can next…?

  • MissJubilee, my plums lightened too and are floating a bit, I don’t really think it’s a problem. I’m chocking it up to the plums releasing their liquid and shrinking a little, so while they were tightly packed before, they are now looser with more liquid to bob around in.

    My skins also split, and I did pierce every plum all over, so I guess it doesn’t work very well

  • Oh goodness – these are so delicious. I did five jars (!) of them in the fall. I struggled to find a way to use the leftover syrup (sweetening cocktails, topping oatmeal or yogurt), but couldn’t keep up. Then the other day I had the idea to use up some gelatin leftover from a baking project to make some plum-honey-cinnamon jello. Yum yum!

  • This looks like a great recipe. I almost want to throw a tempertantrum because I didn’t check this website first before I made the worst plum jam ever. I had about 10 pounds of cherry sized plums and this, I’m sure, would have been the perfect choice on how to preserve them. Live and learn! Sigh!!

    I do have a question for you if you have time. You mentioned that it will spit syrup out and make the jars sticky but that it will still last a year. I processed my jam jars and they sealed but one sometimes there is jam on the outside of the jar under the ring. Are these still good or should I somehow reprocess them?

    Thanks for all of your time building this website. You’ve done a fantastic job! It is quickly becoming my favorite!!!

  • Just made one little pint and a half of these to use up the plums I had in the house, I think I will be headed to the farmers market later to get more! It was so easy!! I’m going to give some to my mom to eat over her yogurt and oatmeal this winter! Can’t wait to try it!

  • I have several plum trees in my backyard and was sooo excited to see this recipe. As I was getting tired of making Plum wine jelly. Unfortunately they did not turn out well. I think I filled the jars alittle too much and some of them siphoned out. I tried one of the jars later and the plums had turned bitter. : ( – not sure what I did wrong.

  • Delish. Did 4 pint jars of these last August and somehow forgot about them… just rediscovered them last night and they are so good! How did I survive without these in December and January?! I had put one cardamom pod into each pint jar (only got 2-3 plums in each jar), and I love the spicy-tangy sweetness. I’m already dreaming up a gin cocktail, and I’m thinking a simple crumb cake studded with rhubarb, drizzled in the plum-honey-cardamom syrup… some softly whipped cream… sounds like spring bliss.

  • Thank you for posting this recipe! I have a large plum tree in my yard and it is bursting with plums this year. We made 48 pint size jars last year and will probably triple that this year. This was a wonderful addition to break up the crop. We give sme away as gifts, so this will be a nice gift pack. Can’t wait to taste them ! This was really easy ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Has anyone tried to can using a natural sugar alternative like stevia? I’m trying to cut my sugar intake but am not sure if I’d get any strange reactions using it as an alternative.

    1. Stevia doesn’t work in the same way that honey does in this recipe. If you’re trying to preserve fruit in this manner without sugar, consider using white grape or apple juice as the canning medium in place of the honey.

  • I’m hoping you can help with a canning debacle! I tried to do peaches in syrup last week but had a heck of a time getting my headspace right. I’d top off the jar to 1/2 inch with syrup and UP pop the peaches. I used wide mouth jars. Could regular mouth be the answer to my problem? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

    1. The only way to can whole fruit (or halved fruit) without frustration is to use regular mouth jars. The shoulders keep the fruit in place. With wide mouth jars, the fruit will float no matter what you do.

  • My parents in law are having a bumper Italian plum crop this year and are delivering a bunch to me in the morning. Such good timing as I’ve finally found enough time to can again (weddings are a real time suck :)! I was wondering whether I can do them in halves instead of whole? I just think it would be easier to spoon out of the jar and straight into dessert without having to try to pull the pits out of sticky, squishy plums.
    -And if I do halve them, do I still have to puncture the skins?
    I intend to give a few jars back to my parents in law for Rosh Hashanah in a couple weeks. Plums and honey are big during R. H. I understand….

    -In an unrelated note, a friend gave me your book for my bridal shower and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I. Love. It. Thank you!

    1. You can certainly do them in halves and not whole. If you cut them, it’s no longer necessary to puncture the skin. So glad you like the book!

  • These are spectacular! I made a batch in October and opened a jar now with a friend for a taste test. WOW I am so excited to have these on hand for the upcoming holidays.

    I put both a cinnamon stick and a star anise pod in each jar, and it worked out beautifully. THANK YOU for such a fabulous recipe!

  • I have been wanting to make these ever since you posted them I am so excited to eat these this winter I hope they taste as delicious as they look. Thank you for the wonderful recipes!!!

  • I wanted to make this recipe today it looked so yummy so I picked up some plums yesterday not sure what kind they are larger and dark purple regular plums we usually have at our markets). Nonetheless my question to you is can I make this recipe but halve the plums and take the pits out instead of leaving them whole. I tested in my wide mouth jars and I can only fit 3-4 plums in the jar and it’s full with way to much space left. I thought halving them would fit more and save the time when I want to use them. BTW thank you for a great site. So far in the last week since I found your site I’ve made the strawberry vanilla jam, I made the peach jam (I added vanilla bean), canned tomato’s, your tomato butter and today it’s the plums and then pear vanilla jam and canned pears. You have inspired me to take my canning up a notch.

  • This recipe looks wonderful. Just wondering about the star anise… When you say “bits”, do you mean whole pods, with 8 “petals”, or just one piece of it? Yes, I’m new at this ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I would just use a piece. Often enough, there are broken pieces in the spice container and so I pick those out and pop them into the jar.

  • Would these still hold up if you cut the plums in half? I have to ration my husband on canned fruit by using smaller jars, and it’s easier for him to travel with (truck driver). I’m thinking of using some half pint and pint jars as well as some quarts for the house.

  • Hello, about to make this yummy recipe. No I didn’t read through the other questions and comments, but I wanted to make sure I have the correct processing time. I’m located at 4500 feet in elevation, would I still process for 25 minutes? Or add an extra 10 minutes? THANKS!

  • I have been doing several types of fruit (peaches, pears, plums) in a honey syrup but only 1 cup per 8 cups water. Is this safe? All the resources I find say you should only replace half the sugar with honey but I want to avoid it as much as possible. I wasn’t worried until I saw a post regarding maple syrup and the fact that it can change the ph, would honey do that as well?

  • I just opened a jar of these plums last night and OH MY GOODNESS! I was hard pressed to get any after my 2 year old ate one. He would have eaten the whole pint by himself! It really brightened up a snowy February day ๐Ÿ™‚ I happened to find the Italian plums at the grocery store last summer and did take the time to cut them in half and pull the pit out, which didn’t take long and was probably accomplished while my little guy finished his dinner. SO SO GOOD!

  • Marissa,

    Can you use plums that have been frozen already? I have a plum tree in my backyard and just found about 10 lbs of plums I threw in the freezer at the end of the season.


    1. Already frozen plums won’t work for this recipe because they won’t have the necessary structural integrity. You could make jam from the frozen plums, but if you tried to can them using this recipe, you’d end up with jars of pulp.

  • I made this recipe yesterday, but cut the plums in halves and quarters since I didn’t have enough jars to do the whole batch of whole plums. All the jars sealed but it looks like a lot of the liquid came out, and the fruit is all sort of floating at the top of the jar and not in the syrup in places. Should these jars go in the fridge, or is a little bit of this normal?

    1. I made three quarts and processed them for 40minutes as I live at 7000 ft(Colorado Extension recommendation? The plums all burst even though I did put holes in them and I had a lot of siphoning. I let the jars set in the wter for 10minutes before removing them from the canner. The plums are floating and there is about a three inch space with no syrup. Should I just use them immediately. Could this be a matter of overprocessing? Beautiful organic plums. Sigh.

      1. There’s always some splitting and siphoning with these plums, but it sounds like you had more than is normal/desired. It’s probably part the long processing time and also, there may have been some trapped air bubbles that also led to the liquid loss.

  • Just put up 4 quarts of plums using the syrup but used lemon peel, whole cloves and cinnamon instead of the star anise or cinnamon/vanilla bean. I noticed that even with packing in my plums pretty tightly, I needed to quickly make up another half batch of syrup becuase it takes about 2 cups per quart jar. Looking forward to tasting them!

    1. You can’t can other fruits whole like I did here. It’s just a different process. You can use the same honey syrup, but you’d need to peel the peaches, and can either stone fruit in segments.

      1. From a safety perspective, it’s ok. But when you reduce the amount of honey in that manner, know that they won’t hold their quality as long once on the shelf. The sugar in the honey acts as a preservative and so if you cut back the volume, they will soften and fade faster.

  • I don’t have access to Italian plums and the ones in the grocery store were a little large for canning whole. I cut the plums and proceeded with the recipe, but the syrup immediately out of the water bath was cloudy. Is this normal/safe to eat?

  • Instead of a cinnamon stick, I used a few tbsp of fresh cinnamon basil. I would assume that this would be just like adding in spices, but I want to be sure- is adding in fresh herbs to fruit in honey syrup ok?

    1. It’s not a great idea to swap fresh herbs in for dried spices. They can change the acidity of the finished preserve, potentially making it unsafe.

  • I prepared this yesterday with plums from a big West Philly tree, none larger than a ping pong ball, and selected the smaller fruits from my bounty. I packed as tightly as I could manage, or at least thought I was, into two wide mouth and two regular jars, but I ran out of syrup on the final quart and had to scramble to prepare another quarter cup or so. I figure I got a good 5 lbs of fruit in there, based on what I have left.

    I used cinnamon in three and star anise in the fourth and I’m excited to have them in the darker months ahead… In the meantime I have a peck and a half of peaches and nectarines to attend to.