My delicious home-made plum jam is perfect spread on toast, crumpets or tea cakes. This quick and simple small-batch recipe produces a couple of delicious pots and needs no added pectin.
Easy Plum Jam
This plum jam recipe will convert you to jam making. It’s very simple to make, and I find that it takes only a few minutes at the stove, thanks to my favourite small batch method.
Fresh ripe plums are one of the great British soft fruits. They have a short season, so I enjoy them while I can and capture that flavour for the rest of the year by making jam.
Jam will keep safely for several years but it does lose its freshness and flavour over time. I don’t know about you, but the back of my cupboard used to hold far too many jars of ancient too-solid jams. So now I avoid this by making small batches, and enjoying the jam at its best. If I run out before the next season, I’ll enjoy something else instead.
We have used a red plum with a golden flesh for the jam, you can, of course use any type of plum.
Don’t I Need Pectin?
No. This plum jam recipe doesn’t use added pectin. The natural pectin in the fruit and the lemon juice sets it very well.
Jam or Conserve: What’s the Difference ?
When making jam, the fruit is sliced and then cooked before the sugar is added. This is necessary for fruit that need more cooking time.
For a conserve, whole raw fruit is left to stand in sugar to draw out the juice. The resulting mixture is then heated to a setting point. By doing this, you minimize the cooking time and keep the fresh flavours of the fruit. You also keep the shape of the fruit pieces. This plum jam recipe uses the conserve method.
My Easy Plum Jam Recipe
Step one – Cut the plums in half, remove the stones and cut off any bruises. Cut each half into about 8 pieces.
Step Two – Put half the chopped plums into a bowl and pour half the sugar over.
If you have a glut of plums to use, but no time to make jam, you can freeze them at this point. Just make a note of the weight of plums and sugar used.
Repeat and make a second layer.
Cover the bowl and wait. The sugar will start draw out the juice.
Leave overnight. The sugar will draw out the plum juice and make a thick syrup. There will still be some solid sugar in the bowl.
Step Three – Sterilize clean jam jars and lids by placing them on a baking tray in the oven at 120°C/250°F/GM1.
Step Four – Transfer the plum and sugar mixture to a large saucepan or preserving pan, and simmer gently until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice.
Step Five – Once the sugar has dissolved, heat the mixture quickly to a rolling boil. Then start testing to see if will set. (See below for more information on this.)
Finally, let the plum jam cool for about ten minutes before you spoon it into the jars – this allows it to cool and thicken and will help stop all the pieces of fruit rising to the top, you want your fruit evenly distributed throughout the jam.
I ladle my jam into a toughened glass jug and pour into the jars through a jam funnel, which helps to stops any stray drips of jam.
Seal the lids while the jam is still hot. As it cools, you’ll hear the lids pop as the vacuum forms. It’s always a satisfying noise after a day with the preserving pan. Clean up any drips, stick on a label and you’re all done – delicious, easy plum jam.
Checking the Set
- First is by temperature; carefully check the jam with an accurate electronic thermometer. The liquid should reach 105°C/221°F. Once the jam has reached this temperature, you know that it should be ready. However use temperature as a guide, thermometers are inaccurate and a pan of boiling preserve will have some hot spots. Always check using one of the other methods below.
- Second, the traditional test using a chilled plate. Before you start cooking, put a side plate in the freezer to chill. Once the jam is boiling, start testing by placing some jam on the plate and let it cool. When you push your finger through, look for a wrinkle ahead of your finger. Once you can see this, the plum jam is ready. This technique takes a bit of practice.
- Third, you can test for setting by checking the way that the jam runs off a spoon. Take a spoonful from the pan and turn it vertically so that the jam falls. If it all runs off, it won’t set. If, however, a little remains on the spoon in a sort of wide drip that doesn’t fall, then the jam is ready.
Again, this works best with some practice. The advantage of small batch jam is that by making little and often, you tune your senses as to when the jam is done and will be able to see when it is ready by its appearance when it is boiling.
- For more detailed notes on jam setting points, see my blackberry and apply jelly recipe.
With time you will be able to gauge setting point from the appearance, and sound, of the simmering jam.
If you are in doubt pot the jam – it is easier to remedy a soft set jam than an overset one.
How to check your jars have sealed
It is crucial to check your jars have sealed – you would have heard the little pops as the lid of each one was sucked in as it cooled.
Leave the jars out for 24 hours, and press the centre of each one. The centre of the lid should stay put it, showing that it is sealed, and the jar can by put away.
If the centre of the lid pops up when released, it hasn’t sealed properly. If you have several unsealed jars you can open them all and re boil the jam, or if just one put it in the fridge and eat it immediately.
Easy Plum Jam – ingredient ratios
Making jams by ratio makes the recipes easy to scale up and down.
- Use the same weight of sugar as fruit.
- Use 1–2 tbsp lemon juice per 500 g of fruit. Riper fruit needs more lemon, firmer fruit needs less.
- 250 g of fruit makes about 600 g of jam.
Easy Small Batch Plum Jam – Hints Tips and Variations
One of the reasons we love small batch preserving is that you can experiment with the recipe.
- Try a different type of plum, they all have slightly different flavours and come in a glorious spectrum of colours.
- Add some spices to mix up the flavour. Cinnamon, cardamon or ginger would all be delicious.
- If your set is too soft, then depending on how much jam there is to fix, you can either boil the jam up again, and re-pot, or leave for a good few months as it will thicken in the jar.
- If the set is too solid, but the flavour is good, you can try adding some water and re-cook, but it is easy to caramelise the sugar.
- Add a little water, heat up and serve on ice cream or pancakes
- Melt the jam, whisk with vinegar and BBQ sauce for a fruity BBQ glaze or marinade.
- Beat it into buttercream for a fruit flavoured frosting.
- If the jam has started to caramelise, you usually can’t rescue it and I’d throw it away.
- My jam has gone mouldy? This can happen for a number of reasons. The jar didn’t seal properly. You didn’t sterilise the jars, or you used bruised or damaged fruit. Throw the jam away – the mould goes far beneath the surface.
How long does plum jam last?
If you have made the jam properly with quality fruit, and the lid has sealed properly, your jam should last for years stored in a cool dark cupboard. It will thicken and darken over time.
Once opened I store jam in the fridge, this is largely due to a lack of cupboard space, and that we have several pots of jam and jelly on the go at once. Homemade jam will be fine in a cupboard for 4 weeks after opening.
This is delicious served on a slice of freshly baked no yeast bread or spread on a slice of fruit loaf, with homemade butter.
More jam recipes
If you enjoyed this plum jam recipe, why not try more small-batch preserving?
More plum recipes
It is also delicious in any fruity dessert, served with a glass of sloe gin!
Easy Plum Jam – Conserve Method
- 500 g plums
- 500 g sugar
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (Riper fruit needs more lemon, firmer fruit needs less. )
- Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Cut each half in to about 8 pieces.
- Put half the plums into a bowl and cover with half the sugar. Then repeat with the second half.
- Cover the bowl and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the juice out of the plums and you will have pieces of plum in a thick deep red syrup. There will be some sugar left not dissolved.
- Transfer the plum and sugar mixture to a good sized saucepan (about 4 volume of the plum and sugar mixture), add the lemon juice.
- Put on a low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring all the time to dissolve the remaining sugar. Meanwhile sterilize clean jam jars and lids by placing them on a baking tray in the oven at 120°C/250°F/GM1.
- Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up high and bring the jam up to a rolling boil until it reaches the setting point of 105°C. Test for set by placing a teaspoonful of jam onto a chilled plate, or use one of the other methods for testing the set.
- Once the jam has reached setting point, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Spoon the jam into the prepared warm jars (a jam funnel helps avoid mess) and seal with the lids before the jam cools. Once cool, label the jars and store in a cool, dry place.
- The lemon juice is not essential for set unless your plums are very ripe, but it does add some extra flavour.
- Makes 2–3 jars
- This recipe is 3 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion
I simply love homemade plum jam. So so good. Brilliant recipe for just the right amount.
Homemade jam is the best.
This looks delicious Helen. Perfect for having on toast and so easy to make.
So good on toast.
I love how easy and delicious this jam is!
We love making jams, and they really are easy to do.
I always love storing my fruits this way – jam or jelly. Thanks for this amazing recipe. I will now make some.
Jam is such a great way of preserving the flavours of fruits.
I like that it is a small batch recipe, so there isn’t any waste.
I really like making small batches, just the right amount.
I love how simple and easy this recipe is. The perfect jam to have with my morning toast!
So easy to make, and delicious to enjoy.
This was easy to make and a great way to start my day on my toast! Delicious; will be saving to make again in the future!
Just perfect on toast for breakfast.
We always make small batch jams. Cannot cope with the mayhem of huge amounts. This sounds yummy and a great use of plums.
I do like making big batches sometimes, but a small amount is so much easier.
Out of all the jams plum was never my favourite, but I think you may have swung my opinion. We tried this and it’s so much better than I thought. And yes, very good on toast!
So glad you have enjoyed the plum, it is delicious.
This is an ideal recipe for making without getting overrun with pans and jars! Really delicious and perfect to have for my breakfast.
So good for breakfast.
I have been so productive over the last few weeks with more time at home, and really enjoying new recipes. This has been one of our favourites, very tasty and first time I made it it was a total success.
Really good to know you had success.
Plum jam is my favourite, perfect on homemade scones, and utterly delicious. An easy no fuss recipe.
Really good on scones.
Jam making if very satisfying, and the best bit is eating it. Easy to follow recipe with great results.
Absolutely, I really enjoy making jam, but the best bit really is eating it.
We have Victoria plum trees in our garden, so I tried your recipe with the first pick. Really good jam and I’m definitely going to be making some more.
How wonderful to have plum trees in your garden.
So easy and very yummy. The perfect breakfast jam!
Really is perfect on toast.
In the main body of the text you state 1tbs of lemon juice per 500g of fruit, but in the printable version of the recipe at the end of the main body of text, you state 2tbs of lemon juice per 450g of fruit. A very different ratio, which is correct?
Sorry about that, 2 tbs for very ripe plums, less if they are firmer.
I used to be fascinated watching my mother make jam when I was younger. She would make great vats of it, and would take it to WI coffee mornings to sell. I tend to stick to small batches like this, just the right amount and so so good. Thanks for the recipe.
What a wonderful memory to have.
One of my joys is growing my own fruits and veggies and making delicious produce. I’ve now made two batches of this, and already been asked to make more for my neighbour. Really successful, brilliant.
Sounds like you have a demand.
I made this jam and the results were great. I’ve enjoyed it on toast, and it is scrummy to have with porridge too.
What a great jam and was easier than I thought. The fiddliest bit was removing the stones.
Such a good easy recipe to follow and the jam is just perfect. No trouble with setting and looking forward to eating it.
I love making jam and this recipe was no exception. Very good proper jam, just the kind of stuff you want on toast.
Can you add apple to this jam?
Absolutely. I’d use about 1/3 apples by weight of the fruit.