How to make plum jam

I have a plum tree in my garden and it now gives enough fruit for approximately 25 jars of jam, which are perfect for little presents to family and friends. If sealed in a vacuum tight jar it will last for at least a year and I think probably much longer.

Many fruits need pectin adding to them to make  the mixture gloopy enough to set but plums contain the natural ingredients, making it perfect to jam – all you need is sugar.

What you will need

  • Plums, preferably stoned
  • Sugar, any type works
  • Greaseproof paper, cut into squares that will leave about an inch extra around each side of the jam jar
  • Jam jars and lids, or vacuum topped clip jars

It sounds like, and will look like, a lot of sugar but just use the equal amount of sugar to the weight of your plums. About 250 grams makes one normal sized jar.

Ingredients for plum jam

Ingredients for plum jam


Cut the stones out of the fruit but you don’t need to cut the fruit into small pieces. Some recipes tell you to skin the fruit but I always leave them on to add to the texture and flavour, plus it’s so much less hassle. If you want to leave your stones in the plums, that’s fine too. You can skim off the stones as they rise to the top of the pan or leave them in but mind your teeth! I would recommend still cutting through each plum to expose the stone. This helps the stone come away from the fruit but it’s mainly to check the fruit isn’t bad inside and that it doesn’t have any little unwanted creatures in it. Use a little less sugar to compensate for the weight of the stones.

Weigh your fruit and weigh out equal, or a little less if you have left the stones in, sugar.


Put the fruit in a large saucepan, leaving a couple of inches at the top to allow it to bubble up, and get the heat on it.

Plums in a pan

Put your plums into a pan

Add your sugar in three or four stages.

Sugar and plums in a pan

Put your sugar into the pan

After adding more each time, use a wooden spoon to stir it all around also occasionally using the spoon to chop through the mixture. This helps pulp down the fruit.

Stirring plums in a pan

Stir in the sugar

The mixture will increasingly become less like plums and more like a liquid. At this stage turn up the heat and bring the pan to a boil as quick as you can but keep an eye on it as it can boil over the sides. Turn the heat down accordingly for a rolling boil and a froth will have appeared. Start skimming off this froth, or scum, and continue to do so every few minutes until it has gone. If you left the stones in, you will see them rise to the top in the scum.

Skimming scum off jam

Skim the scum off the mixture

Leave the mixture to simmer on a slight boil for about another ten minutes. Using a spoon, take a little bit of the jam and put it on a plate. While you’re letting the test cool, take the lids off your clean jam jars and put the jars only on a baking tray in the oven on a low setting. After a few minutes check if the test mixture is starting to be sticky and is setting. If it is you’re almost finished, if not, leave the pan on the heat for another five minutes and check again. The jam won’t set properly until it is completely cold so when checking it with your finger, remember it won’t be the final consistency, you’re making sure it’s on it’s way.

When you’re hapy wit the jam take the jars out of the oven and carefully fill each one, leaving half an inch to an inch of space at the top. Cut out squares of greaseproof paper, big enough to overlap the top of the jars by about an inch each side. If you are using vacuum clip top jars, you don’t need to do this.

Greaseproof paper

Cut squares of greaseproof paper

The jars will be very hot so using a cloth, carefully screw the lids back on the jars, over the paper squares.

Homemade plum jam

Finished batch of homemade plum jam

To add the finishing touch for gifts, use a square of nice material and an elastic band to create a cover for the top. Make a lable with the type and date of the batch, using a small piece of card with a hole punched through one corner. Thread some ribbon through the hole and tie this round the neck, hiding the elastic band.

I hope this has inspired you to try and make this easy jam. Go to the market and a couple of bowls for £2 or less should make you three jars. Let me know how you get on….

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