Pickled Italian Plums

September 24, 2014(updated on August 30, 2021)

vertical pickled plums

These pickled plums may be my favorite new preserve of this summer. They are a bit sweet, slightly spiced, and super tangy. Much like other pickled fruit, they are something of a two for one product, because once the fruit is gone, you can pour the flavorful syrup into sparkling water or use it to flavor batches of homemade vinaigrette.

italian plums

Like all pickled fruit, this recipe works best if you start with fruit that is just slightly underripe. You want to choose fruit that has plenty of flavor and a bit of give, but still has enough robustness to retain the integrity of the slices once they’ve simmered for a bit.

slivered plums

I kept the spices relatively restrained in this pickle, bundling up just star anise, whole cloves, black peppercorns, and a little crushed red chili flake for heat. Because spices are always the place where can personalize a preserve, if you make this one on your own, feel free to take that cheese cloth packet in any direction you’d like.

A short length of cinnamon stick would have fit in nicely and a few gently crushed cardamom pods would also play nicely.

plum spices

If the plums are already gone in your area, don’t think that your opportunities for pickled fruit are over. You could try this with tender slices of pears or hunks of soft fleshed apple (a golden delicious would be a nice choice).

finished jars of pickled plums

Looking for more pickled fruit? I’ve got so many other seasonal options for you! Naturally sweetened apple date chutney. Honey sweetened peach chutney (make it while the peaches last!). Pickled asian pears (this recipe is from Karen Solomon’s gorgeous book Asian Pickles). Persimmon and pear chutney (persimmons will be here soon). Pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger. Pickled cranberries (the. best.).

4 from 1 vote

Pickled Italian Plums


  • 4 pounds Italian plums
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 pints of product.
  • Cut plums in half and cut each half into 4-6 wedges.
  • Pile sliced plums into a low, wide pan, add the sugar and apple cider vinegar, and stir to combine.
  • Bundle the spices up in a length of cheesecloth or tuck them into a non-reactive tea ball and add them to the pan.
  • Place the pan on the stove and bring it to a boil. Cook at a vigorous bubble for 5-6 minutes, until the syrup thickens and the fruit softens (but try to stop cooking before the slices start to disintegrate).
  • Using a slotted spoon, funnel the fruit into jars and then top each jar off with the syrup, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
  • Tap jars to loosen air bubbles and adjust syrup levels, as needed.
  • Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from canner and place on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
  • If jars begin siphoning their syrup when you first remove them from the canning pot, pop them back into the water. Slide the pot off the hot burner and let the jars cool more gradually in the pot.
  • Once jars have had a chance to cool to room temperature on their towel, check the seals by pushing on the lids. If they are firm and without wiggle, the seals are good.
  • Sealed jars are shelf stable for at least a year.

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4 from 1 vote

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23 thoughts on "Pickled Italian Plums"

    1. Me too, would love to hear what others are using these for, other than with cheese because everything is good with cheese.

    2. I combine pickled fruit, usually plums or apricots, with a little jam, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and herbs (usually rosemary) and slather it over protein (pork is excellent if you eat pork) and bake it in the oven. Sooo good. Probably would be great over squash as well.

  • I’ve always been interested in pickling fruit, but other than preserving sour cherries in sugar syrup, I’ve never tried anything close to it… Now, I have some ground cherries to play around with, do you think they would work pickled?

    1. I honestly don’t think that ground cherries will pickle well. They don’t have a whole lot of substance once cooked and so I would be concerned that they would dissolve into nothingness in the jar.

  • Hi Marisa, will make this after I go to the market on Saturday. Do you think that I can also add any type of liquor? good idea? bad idea? when I can peaches I use bourbon, with the spices you include in this recipe I could also think dark rum. What do you think? thank you.

    1. I think these peaches would be delicious with a little booze. Either dark rum or bourbon would go beautifully with the spices.

    2. I will start my message as you started your post! this is my new favorite preserve for the summer!!! and I will get to the market this week to find some more plums! So I went with a spiced rum and used 1/3 of a cup. I used half of it at the beginning, cooked my plums for 5′ because they were a bit more ripe than they should, I put them in jars, drained the watery syrup from the jars to the pot and cooked it with the rest of the rum for 10′. Added the syrup to the jars and moved on with the water bath. Amazing taste, flavor will be incredible in a month or so, I am very very happy!!! Thank you Marisa!

  • I will certainly check to see if there are any local plums left this sounds great. I have a 3 year old Italian plum tree so I hope to make more in the future.

    I have an off plums question for you, Have you ever come across a pumpkin Jam recipe? My great Nephew asked me about it and I promised to search to see if I could find a recipe. He and his father love when I make pumpkin butter and they just eat it out of the jars. Actually the two of them love anything pumpkin so this time of year is their favorite. I love pumpkin too, but draw the line at pumpkin stuffed popular sandwich cookies.
    I really do not understand what might make it a jam rather than a butter, since pumpkin can easily cook down to soft mushy consistency. So I would think it must not be cooked to long. It would be ok to combine with say apple but they can cook the same way. So since I see more innovative things on your site I thought I would ask. Thank You

  • I made this recipe last night, as written, with average-sized Italian plums, and was concerned as I sliced the plums that the wedges were so small. 4-6 slices per half results in wedges that are much smaller than an inch in width.

    Sure enough, these thin wedges mostly disintegrated, even with a short and careful cook in the liquid. I would up with pickled plum pulp.

    Looking at your process photos, the slices are clearly larger. I wonder if I misread something here, or if there’s other clarification you could provide…..?

    I’m considering making it again, but with each half only cut in half.

    1. It must be that the plums I was working with were larger than the ones you had. I wrote the recipe exactly as I made it. I’m sorry that you wound up with pickled plum pulp. Next time, follow your instincts and cut your slices larger or pickle them as halves.

  • Today I found more Italian blue plums that are at least double the size of the previous batch. Of course fruit size variation is a given, but it’s helpful to think about the desired slice size before starting the knife work 🙂

  • Can the plums be cooked for less time so they won’t disintegrate? or does that somehow change the safety of preserving them??

  • This recipe is a keeper!! Absolutely delicious and a great use for (some) of the plums on my tree. Thanks, Food in Jars!

  • I find that pickled prunes will work very well in a fermented pepper sauce.
    I make them and add to fermented Chili Colorado or other concoctions. It gives a
    mystery flavor that people love., and can’t fiure out where it comes from.