Classic Plum Jam

Kate Punshon - Sunday, February 02, 2014

Plum jam is a classic family favourite. When plums are plentiful, make your own plum with this simple recipe. The rich flavour of plums and the high acid and pectin content produces a good set, simply and easily every time - even if you are a beginner. Plum jam can be used beyond morning toast or sandwiches. Enrich your next family roast gravy with a teaspoon of jam, or use as the filling is Swiss rolls, fairy cakes, jam button biscuits or serve with ice-cream.

I use our home grown Santa Rosa plums which is a European plum species (Prunus domestica) which produce early in the season and has an excellent flavour but is still a touch tart until fully ripe. When harvesting there aren’t many that don’t make it into basket. Fresh from the tree, warmed by the sun, plum juices exploding in the mouth, this is the gardeners reward.

Preparation time:  20 minutes
Cooking time:       20 minutes
No of serving:       6 x 220 ml jars

Ingredient list

I kg firm ripe plums
900 gm white sugar
250 ml water


Sterilise sealable glass jars and lids


  1. Wash and dry the plums gently with a tea towel or paper towel so as not to bruise the fruit.
  2. Cut the plums in half and remove the stone. Cut each half in two and then each piece in half again horizontally.
  3. Place the chopped plums and water into a large preserving pan.
  4. Cook gently until the plums and are soft and pulpy.
  5. Add the sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved.
  6. Bring the mixture to boiling as quickly as possible.
  7. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the jam is thick and reaches setting point.
  8. Use a funnel to pour into warm dry sterilised screw cap sealable bottles. Fill to approximately 2.5cm (I inch) from the top of the bottle and seal using your preferred method.
  9. Seal, label and store in a cool dark place in the kitchen or pantry.
  10. Allow the jam mature for at least 2 weeks before eating.

Recipe Notes

  1. For the best results use firm, ripe fruit that it not too soft or that has been bruised.
  2. Plum jam is a great beginner’s jam as it consistently produces great results without much effort. The high acid and pectin content of plums makes plum jam very easy to make and produces a great set.
  3. The jam will settle in the jar as it cools.
Sue commented on 05-Feb-2014 09:42 AM
Hi Kate I'm making pear jam and the recipe I have uses jam setta. Could you let me know the quantity of apples I would need to use to replace it. The recipe is 750gm fresh pears, 750gm sugar (I use 500gm as it is too sweet for me) and 1 sachet of jam setta. Due to food intolerance I am not able to use lemon juice but can have powdered citric acid. I look forward to hearing from you. Cheers Sue
kate commented on 06-Feb-2014 10:49 PM
Hi Sue Jam, jellies and marmalade set because of a complex chemical reaction between the fruit acids, pectin and additional sugar. Pears are low in both acid and pectin so recipes use lemon juice to provide additional acid and apples for the pectin content. Some recipes will also combine orange or pineapple with the pears, these are fruit based acid alternatives to lemon juice. Given your intolerance, I know of no substitute that you can use. To delete it completely will affect your final set. I suggest you make a pectin stock and substitute this for the jamsetta. 150 gm of stock will set 1.25 litres of low-pectin fruit or juice. I suggest you make a few small test batches until you get the proportions right. It's also worth noting that by reducing the sugar content you will also be reducing the shelf life of the jam, as the high sugar content also acts as a natural preservative. Even when you get the proportions right, making small batches will allow you to use up the frozen pectin stock and the jam within their respective self life. Pectin stock recipe: Roughly, chop 900g of firm ripe cooking apples with the skin on. Place chopped apples, cores, and pips in a preserving pan. Just cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer approx. 40 mins. or until the apples are very soft. Measure the mixture as you pour it into a jelly bag and allow it to drain at least 2 hrs but preferably overnight. Pour drained juices into clean preserving pan and boil until volume is reduce by one-third. Pour into sterilised containers, store in fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 4 months. To use, defrost stock at room temperature, and stir into the preserve when you add the sugar. I will be very interested to hear how this works for you. Good luck with the experiments
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kate commented on 24-Jul-2014 03:02 PM
HI Stacy, Jam making is a lot of fun and very satisfying, however understanding the relationship between acid, pectin and sugar can be a bit mystifying. I have explained this further in a post called "Setting point of jam, jelly & marmalade" in the Reasons section on this website. Plum jam usually sets very easily. Happy jam making
Steph commented on 31-Jan-2015 11:21 AM
This was the most straightforward, easy to follow recipe for plum jam that I found, and I made it yesterday with total success, so thank you! Your information on setting points and the relationship between acid, pectin and sugar has been a big help for a beginner like me too.
Kate commented on 01-Feb-2015 04:34 PM
Hi Steph, great news that your jam was a success. If you still have some plums, try the spicy plum jam for something a bit different. Jam making isn't that difficult once the relationship between acid, sugar and pectin is explained. There might be a few "runny jams" along the way, but these are never wasted as they can be mixed into yogurt or used as an ice cream sauce.

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