Vanilla Yellow Plum Jam

August 21, 2015(updated on July 14, 2020)

three pounds yellow plums

The summer is waning and I have a massive backlog of recipes that are rapidly becoming moot as produce moves out of season. My plan for the next couple weeks is to keep my posts relatively simple and just get as many of these new preserves up here as I can before they are no longer timely.

macerated yellow plums

This yellow plum jam variation is one I’ve made three times over the years and yet it hasn’t wound up on the blog or in any of my books. I find that yellow plums aren’t always easy to find, and so when I do stumble across them, I like to pick up a few pounds and make this jam.

four half pints yellow plum jam

This year, I came across yellow plums at my Saturday farmers market, where one of my favorite farmers had no more than a dozen pints, at just a buck a pint. So ripe that they barely made it back to my kitchen intact, I prepped them by squeezing them into pulp over a large measuring cup.

yellow plum labels

Because the plums were so sweet and ripe, I tempered them with a goodly amount of lemon juice to keep them from being cloying. If your plums are quite tart, back off on the lemon juice or skip it entirely (remember, when a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, that’s your signal that it’s there for flavor balance, not safety. It’s only when a recipe indicates that you need to use bottled lemon juice that you should stick exactly to the amount of lemon juice called for).

4.22 from 71 votes

Vanilla Yellow Plum Jam

Servings: 4 half-pints


  • 3 pounds yellow plums about six cups of pulp
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean split and scraped
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Prepare a small boiling water bath canner and 4 half pint jars.
  • Chop or crush the plums, remove the pits, and combine them with the sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Stir to incorporate the sugar.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, set the pan on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.
  • Cook, stirring regularly for 15 to 25 minutes, until the fruit thickens and reduces by at least one-third.
  • Taste and add lemon juice as needed.
  • When the jam seems quite thick and glossy, remove it from the heat.
  • Funnel the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
  • When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Sealed jars are shelf stable for at least one year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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4.22 from 71 votes (67 ratings without comment)

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86 thoughts on "Vanilla Yellow Plum Jam"

    1. Whoops! Yes, I did mean plums. This is what I get when I blog close to bedtime. The recipe should now be correct.

      1. this did not set up at all after 25 min for me. i boiled simmered stirred etc. it’s been over an hour and it’s sitting on the stovetop “cooling.” I’m going to add some liquid pectin bring to a boil and see what happens. I used the freezer test too. It did set up a tiny bit. First time for me.

        1. This is a soft set jam. It’s not going to set up super firmly. However, I’d suggest letting it cool overnight and judging the set once it has cooled. If you still don’t like it, reheat it with the pectin and cook until it passes your favorite set test.

  • Thanks for the detail about fresh lemon juice meaning it is for flavor not necessity! I rarely have fresh lemons and all this summer when I saw that in a recipe, I added a glug of bottled lemon juice!

  • So glad I came across this Marisa! My folks friends have a yellow plum tree and it bears so much fruit – and they keep giving me bag after bag full. This is the perfect solution!!

  • Mmm sounds good, I got some yellow plums from our fruit CSA this week so this is perfect. Tomorrow I’ll make this one and some peach jam too

  • Tis the season to be gifted with unwanted plums & zucchini!!! I can’t wait to make a couple of jars of your jam – it’s so simple. Lately it’s been too hot for cooked jam so I made freezer jam instead. But I think I’ll try this one.

    Thank you for the LIDS. Got them in the mail today. One is already on the jar of corn starch so I can sprinkle it straight into liquids!!!

  • PS any suggestions on where to buy good quality vanilla beans? Our local natural food store sells them for $6 each and they are dry and not many seeds.

        1. I don’t recommend substituting vanilla extract for the beans. The only good substitute for a vanilla bean would be vanilla bean paste.

  • Thanks for the tip about the lemon juice. It makes perfect sense; I just never thought of it that way. And you know what, Marisa, this is one of things that keeps me coming back to your blog–you share delicious recipes and even after all these years still manage to sneak useful tidbits of info into your posts. Thanks as always for keeping it fresh (no sort-of pun intended 🙂 ).

  • I had never even heard of yellow plums before I read your post on Friday. Then that afternoon I actually saw them at our fruit stand. This is the first of your recipes my dad and I have tried. I’ve followed your blog for some time and have had your first cookbook since it came out. We just never took the plunge….til this past weekend. We love it! We doubled the recipe because we have biscuits or toast for breakfast almost every morning. Dad really likes that it isn’t too sweet. We both can’t wait to try another of your recipes!

  • Hi Marisa! Love your blog and cookbooks (especially preserving by the pint), but what I really LOVE is that you give useful measurements! We have a couple fruit trees and small veggie garden, so I really appreciate that you give weight (useful when buying at the store) and volume (since I don’t have a food scale for homegrown items) measurements! Appreciate all you do! Made this using our yellow plums-delicious!

  • This is not a comment about the jam. But I need help. Today I tried to can green beans everything went good until I took the jars out of the pressure cooker. That’s when I saw my jars of beans had hardly any liquid left ok them. They have all sealed lids propped. But are they safe to eat or should I just start over.

    1. As long as you processed them for the right amount of time, they’re safe. It may be that your had some trapped air bubbles and they forced their way out.

  • Have you ever worked with green gage plums (reine claude)? I have a coworker who has a tree and each year she gives me like 10 lbs! I’ve found a good basic jam recipe that I’ve been using for a few years, but I would love to try something different if you have anything up your sleeves!

    1. Greengage are hard to come by in my area, but they are truly the most wonderful plums. When I do get them, I like to jam them with a split and scraped vanilla bean.

  • Thanks for this super easy recipe Marisa! I used purple plums because that’s what I had but the vanilla flavor still seeps in. I love it when there’s no peeling involved. I cooked the jam with the vanilla pod in the mix and then fished it out before canning.

  • Can this be done with frozen yellow plums? I have about 6 LARGE ziploc bags full in my freezer…

  • My jam isn’t setting – do you cook it down to your desired finished consistency before bottling? I assumed it would set a little more once cooled after canning

    1. You never cook it down to the desired finished consistency. You always want to stop short of that, because if you take it to the desired finished consistency while it’s still hot, it’s going to thicken a great deal more once it is cool. It will take about 24 to 36 hours to reach its final set. What’s more, if you used the pectin, there’s really no way for it not to set up.

  • Just took 4 half pints out, seals popped almost immediately and they are looking amazing! Thanks for such an easy recipe!

    1. You don’t have to use vanilla. If you omit it, you don’t have to add additional sugar. The recipe will work as written, with or without the vanilla.

  • I made this today with green gage plums and it’s a bit sour. If I make again should I add more than 1.5 c sugar or just sweeten after I open it? Any chance the sourness will mellow with time?

    1. If you find it too sour, you could increase the amount of sugar next time you make it. For the batch that is already finished, adding more sugar upon opening the jars is just going to cause the finished jam to crystallize. I might suggest that you find some friends or neighbors who like tart jam for this batch and make a second batch that is closer to your personal taste.

  • Recipe looks great. I don’t have canner . Can I do it in big pot? Also, I have about 9 llbs of plums. Can I just triple recipe? Thanks.

  • Could I use this recipe but sub the spices for your spiced pear jam for the vanilla bean? And can I just a liquid pectin to help it set up a bit firmer? Thanks!

    1. You are asking about creating an entirely new recipe. You can certainly do it, but I can’t guarantee your results, because I’ve not made the recipe you’re suggesting.

  • Could not get this to set at all so I did have to use pectin. I also had to add more sugar as I ended up with very tart plums. But very delicious and I already have friends and family wanting jars of it!

  • I’m anxious to try this recipe. I had never heard of yellow plums until my Italian plum tree gave me…you guessed it, yellow plums! Last year was its first fruiting but this year we got both the yellow AND the promised Italian, lol. Kind of a wonky grafting job.
    Anyway, thanks for the recipe!

  • If my beautiful bright yellow plums turned a very dark red while cooking, does that mean I ruined the whole thing? Or is there some tiny chance that’s supposed to happen? Did it turn into plum butter, maybe?

  • I have a yellow plum tree I rescued from a seed start at someone’s house they were going to destroy. About golf ball size. No clue what kind it is. Any clue?

  • I’m making some yellow plum jam right now with my kids, We have two big yellow plum trees that gave generously this year! We don’t have any vanilla beans on hand. I know I can leave it out, but I’m curious why you said in a previous comment that vanilla extract is not a good substitute?

    1. Extracts don’t work well in preserves because they are alcohol based. Their flavor evaporates out during the cooking and canning process. Vanilla bean or paste is the best option.

  • This is the first year my very old yellow plum tree has had enough fruit to preserve. I had to pick the plums a little earlly because we have a heat wave coming and I was afraid I’d loose them. Because the plums were not quite ripe, I pureed them after pitting and before cooking. The jam is great! I love your recipe!

  • Are there any suggestions for easily removing the pits? Especially without removing alot of the fruit with it?

    1. I sometimes simmer hard to pit fruit with a little water until soft. Then let it cool, and pinch out the pits with your fingers, and then finish cooking the preserve.

  • What do I do If I’ve already gotten rid of the skins? can I just add some pectin? my plums are pitted and peeled, whats left is quite watery…

  • My mom re-gifted me a big bag of yellow plums after her neighbors gave a huge pile to her. I googled what to do with them and this recipie popped up … And wow does my kitchen smell amazing!! I just started the water bath and honestly if it doesn’t set I’ll drizzle it over pound cake. I will admit that I thought I had vanilla bean when I started slicing up plums …. And was wrong. I glared at my spice rack and thought what the hey and used a healthy pinch of saffron threads instead. Looks good, smells better …. And I’m surprised I had any left to jar after the taste test turned into test bowl.

  • This looks great! What would happen if you accidentally added the lemon with the sugar? I think this is my first time making jam on my own at least. Thanks!

  • 3 stars
    This sounded lovely, but the finished jam was mouth-puckeringly tart. Is that normal? Used 3 pounds of pitted, very ripe golden plums which I’d frozen this summer. The 1.5 C sugar in the recipe ends up being about 10 ounces. That seems like a very low fruit-to-sugar ratio. A couple of questions: With those proportions, is it safe to can and store? Also, I have some lovely orange syrup left over from making candied orange peel… would it work to “liberate” the jam from its canning jars, pop it back in the kettle with some orange syrup, try to sweeten it that way, then re-process? Hoping to get your wisdom and guidance on this!

    1. Every batch of plums is different. When I developed this recipe, I was working with very sweet plums and wanted a low sugar product. You can always use more sugar if a batch of jam isn’t sweet enough for your taste. Additionally, sugar doesn’t make a product safe or unsafe. Only acid content can do that (and plums are quite high in acid naturally, so their safety is assured). Sugar does help prolong shelf life and prevent fading.

      You could certainly reopen the jars, recook it with your syrup, and recan it. That’s perfectly acceptable.

  • 1 star
    My jam hasn’t set. Tried cooking for much longer time, several hours. Tried cooling and then cooking again. Tried adding pectin. Tried refrigerating. Nothing works. Guess I’m stuck with “plum syrup”.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear that it didn’t work for you. How long did you give it to achieve set? Sometimes jam needs a few days to fully firm up. Additionally, what’s your elevation? That can sometimes play a role in loosely set jam.

  • Are shiro plums similar to the plums in this recipe? I just noticed one of my favorite sellers has some.Thanks for the lemon juice note. I never realized that. I always learn something when I do your recipes.

  • 5 stars
    I’m having a bit of self-inflicted trouble due to having added water to cook the plums and therefore am having issues in getting it to reduce adequately. Also feeling like it is a bit tart for my palate. Can I possibly get a good end result by continuing to cook the fruit pulp, sugar, vanilla bean scrapings to reduce? And can I add more sugar to compensate for tartness? Thanks so much, Melissa ~

    1. I’m surprised that you need to add water. But you could certainly increase the sugar if you need it to be sweeter.