When I was very young, my family lived in an old house in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock. We had a trio of plum trees that produced great heaps of fruit every other year. My parents would fill paper grocery bags with plums and pass them out to friends and neighbors. Even after those bags were distributed, there were always more plums.
My mom would always make two or three batches of delicious, runny plum jam, spiked with cinnamon and bright with lemon zest that we’d eat on oatmeal, pancakes, and yogurt. Because of those preserves, the flavor of plum jam satisfies my deepest taste memories in a way that other jams can’t touch.
This recipe is my attempt to recreate that childhood jam. The only difference is that I use a bit of pectin to ensure that mine has a firmer set than the batches my mom used to make.
Spiced Plum Jam
- 4 pounds plums pitted and diced
- 4 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin not the low sugar variety
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 lemon juiced and zested
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 7-8 half pint jars.
- Heap the prepared plums in a large, non-reactive pan.
- Whisk together the sugar, pectin, cinnamon, and nutmeg together and add it to the plums. Stir to combine.
- When the plums are quite juicy and most of the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice and zest, and place the pan on the stove over high heat.
- Bring the fruit to a full boil and then reduce the heat to medium high.
- Cook the fruit at a low boil, stirring regularly, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the plums soften and the syrup thickens. You’ll know when the jam is done because it will become more resistant to stirring, and when you pull the spoon out of the pan, the droplets will be thick and slow moving.
- When the jam is done, remove the pan from the heat. Funnel it into the prepared jars.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (do not start your timer until the pot returns to a full, rolling boil).
- Once the time is up, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. The lids should seal promptly and will often make a pinging or popping sound as the vacuum forms. When the jars are sealed, the center of the lids will be concave and when pressed, the lid will not move or wiggle.
I realize this is an older post, but this recipe caught my eye as I was looking for a plum-only jam. I was wondering if any plum variety works with this recipe (these look like Italian or prune plums). I have some California reds on hand here. Also, could I possibly skip the pectin if I halve the recipe? I do like a softer-set jam. Thanks!
Making a half batch with any kind of plum and without pectin should work just fine. It may be a little softer set, but if you like that, you’ll be all set.
Hi Marisa- I’d like to replace a small amount of the plums with red currants and raisins – total weight would remain at 4lb. Would these changes keep things in the “ safe” zone? Thanks so much ????!
That shouldn’t be an issue.
Hi Marisa, Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe!! I know not all recipes are safe to can in larger size jars so I was wondering if you know whether this recipe can be canned in pint-size jars? Thanks 🙂
This one is fine to can in a pint sized jar.
I’m curious if there is a way to sub pomona pectin in to this recipe. Its what I have in my cupboard.
Or, if I just were to cook longer – could I just skip the pectin all together?
As long as you’re okay with something a big runnier, you can skip the pectin.
Wondering why the low sugar pectin isn’t recommended for this jam? Is it an issue with the set?
Because that’s not what I tested the recipe with. I was just trying to be clear. Low/no sugar and traditional fruit pectin are not interchangeable.
I was sorry my jars sealed, because I wanted to eat it right away. And I only made a few jars, because I only had a pound of plums. Bummers– as this was good.
So glad you like it!
my late grandparents owned a large lot in Temple City CA, ever since WW2, and I visited it many times as a teen in the 1970s. They had room for a home & garage, a covered patio and screened-in “summer room” where we played ping-pong and caroms, and a in-law cottage in the back where great grandma lived, and copious amounts of fruit trees, nut trees, and a huge vegetable garden. Some of my fondest memories are of picking fruit with Grandpa and making jam or relish with Grandma in her kitchen. One of her gifts to us when we got married was a LOT of her homemade plum jam, as well as her zucchini relish. Your recipe takes me right back to my younger days. Thank you so much for that.
It sounds like an idea place to get to visit growing up! Thank you for sharing your memories!
I froze 32 lbs of plums from my trees in 2 1/2 pound bags. My question. Have you ever used frozen plums? I don’t peel them and figure I’ll just use a stick blender to purée the skins… any suggestions would be awesome!
You can definitely use frozen plums in this recipe.
Thanks for this – it is truly perfect in every way! Tastes delicious. I’ve made many of your recipes (your Peach Mustard is divine) and loved this one as well.
Quick question: I started with almost 4.5 lbs of plums so that I could end up with 4 lbs after pitting. Is this correct or should I start with 4 lbs then pit?
For the record I used a. Is of Elephant Heart Plums and Italian Plums all from the farmers market and the sweet/tart mix is absolutely perfect.
I did mean you to start with 4 pounds of plums prior to pitting. If a recipe says 4 pounds, pitted and chopped, it means that you should weight the produce first and then prepare it. If it said 4 pounds of pitted and chopped plums, then you would use a full 4 pounds of prepared plums. But it should still be fine, even with the slightly larger volume of plums.
Will adding additional spices to the recipe affect the outcome other than taste? Thinking of adding some ground cloves.
Is is totally safe to add a bit more spice. There’s no impact on the outcome.
All the cheap plums in the store came home with me yesterday, so of course I checked what recipes you have. This one is a winner. Going to make another batch to gift this fall and winter.
So glad you’re pleased with it! Enjoy!
Do you peel the plums or leave skin on?
You never need to peel plums, unless they are wild ones and are super bitter.