Super easy, delicious Spiced Plum Jam, made without pectin. Great way to use up extra and/or overripe plums. Perfect for gift-giving too.
How to make spiced plum jam from fresh plums.
I love autumn, and the glorious stone fruits that come with it. Fall isn’t just about pumpkin, you know.
Living in Ottawa, I now have access to so many types of plum – blue plum, Italian plum and my favorite black plum. So when they go on sale, I buy them in bulk and make this delicious Spiced Plum Jam!
Plum jam on its own is fantastic, but this spiced version is irresistible. The jam isn’t cloyingly sweet, and the spices add a lovely warmth. In fact, the spices complement the fruity sweetness of the jam. It’s the perfect treat for the colder months of autumn.
Why you should make this spiced plum jam recipe
- Great way to make those delicious plums last longer.
- Super easy recipe.
- The spices add a lovely, warming flavor profile.
- No pectin used here (but you can use pectin if you like).
- It’s like Fall in a bottle (and it’s NOT pumpkin-flavored!).
How to make plum jam without pectin
This spiced plum jam recipe doesn’t use any pectin. I don’t make jam often enough to buy pectin, so I almost always make jam without it. So the solution here is to add some lemon juice (about 2 tbsp) + a grated green apple (lemon juice and green apple have natural pectin).
So this plum jam recipe is a no pectin, no peel, plum jam that’s so easy to make and super delicious!
How to make spiced plum jam
I used a mixture of black and Italian plum. But you can use any type of plum you like. I prefer black plum, but the Italian plum variety is known to be sweeter.
I like to choose ripe plums to make jam. And overripe? Even better! The natural sweetness and flavor of plums will be at their peak when nice and ripe.
I use a pairing knife to remove the pits from the plums. I cut the plums in half and pry the seed out using a teaspoon. Then I cut each half into 3 or 4 pieces and place them all in a large bowl.
How much sugar to add?
Once I’ve weighed the fruits (minus the pits!), I calculate how much sugar I need. The ratio I use for making jams is, for every pound of fruit, I use 1 cup of sugar. This has worked for me in the past for fruit jams that I’ve made, like this grape jam recipe. So,
3 pounds of fruit = 3 cups of sugar (600 g)
3.5 pounds of fruit = 3 1/2 cups of sugar (700 g)
2.25 pounds of fruit = 2 1/4 cups of sugar (450 g)
Knowing this ratio makes the whole process of making jam easier. Even if I don’t have enough fruit, or too much fruit, I know how to adjust the sugar level to still get perfect results. This ratio also works well if you have a combination of fruits, or just want to make a small batch of jam. For this recipe, I had 4 pounds of plums to make the spiced plum jam.
Combine plums and sugar in the bowl. Add the spices and lemon juice as well. You can also add the grated green apple at this stage, or you can add the apple just before starting to cook the jam. I’ve tried both, and there isn’t a marked difference.
Letting the fruits chill overnight
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the plums macerate overnight. This is a tip I picked up from Serious Eats. Allowing the fruits to soften overnight makes for an amazingly textured jam. Since the plums are soft, they breakdown easily in the jam, resulting in a smooth plum jam. Plus the spices are also given time to really infuse. It’s a win-win situation.
Cooking the plum jam
Add all of the plum + sugar mix into a large pot. Seriously. FIND A LARGE POT. The jam will splatter as it reduces, so using a large pot will keep the splatter mess to a minimum. Plus, a larger pot will cook this spiced plum jam faster (anything to get my hands on this kick ass jam sooner!).
Add the grated apple (in case you didn’t earlier), and start cooking the jam. I use a cooking thermometer to determine if the jam is at the right consistency. It’s foolproof, but you can also use frozen saucers/lids/spoons to do the jam test too (see below).
Cook the fruit over medium heat, and bring it to a boil. While cooking, remember to mash the fruits with a manual potato masher. When the jam is boiling, I keep a close eye on the mix. I stir it often to make sure it’s cooking evenly, and make sure it’s not cooking at too high of a heat. If the jam is bubbling violently, you may need to reduce the heat.
Skin or no skin?
This step is optional – If you have a food mill, you can use this instead of the potato masher. The added advantage is that the mill discards the skins for a smoother jam. Personally I don’t do this. However, if you want to have a REALLY smooth jam (no chunky pieces), then you don’t want to skip this step. Use a food mill to pass the macerated fruits, so that the leftover peels can be discarded. I like my plum jam to be a little chunky, so I keep the peels.
This next step is optional too – skim the jam. As the jam boils, there will be yellow-ish foam rising to the top. If you have a skimmer, try to remove this foam that rises to the top. This results in a clearer looking jam. It doesn’t interfere with the flavor in any way, so you can just mix it in instead if you like.
How to check when the jam is done (jam test)
I used to test my jam with the freezer test/jam test. To do this, I place a scant teaspoon of the spiced plum jam on a frozen saucer, and freeze it for about 1 – 2 minutes, and then check the consistency. Run a finger through the jam to make a streak. If the jam does not join back up in the middle and fill the streak, and is still jelly-like to the touch (not stiff), then it’s at the correct, jammy consistency.
For this plum jam recipe however, I used a cooking thermometer (or candy thermometer) instead. I check the temperature of the jam every few minutes after stirring the jam to diffuse the heat. When the temperature reaches 105°C (or 220°F), I remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down. I aim for a temperature between 220 – 223°F. This is the setting temperature of jam, and it’s never failed me.
Sterilizing jam jars
While the jam is cooking, sterilize the jars. I’m not an avid canner, but when I make jam, I like to sterilize the bottles so I can keep the extra jars sealed for a longer time.
To do this, clean all jars with soapy water. Next, place the jars in a large pot and fill the pot with water, making sure the jars are also filled (keep them sideways in the pot, so they remained filled).
Heat this pot with the lids partially on, and allow the water to come to a simmer with the jars and lids fully submerged. After 5 – 10 minutes or so, the jars should be sterilized in the boiling water.
Keep the jars warm, until you’re ready to fill them with the hot jam. This is important because if you add hot jam to cooler jars that are at room temperature, the jars may crack (that’s from personal experience).
Filling the jars & storage
Add the hot jam into sterilized jars. Use oven mitts to keep your hands from burning because the jam is going to be pretty dang hot. Close the jars with the sterilized lids, but not too tightly, and allow the jars to cool down to room temperature. Once cooled down completely, they can be stored in the fridge or in your pantry for up to 3 months.
I promise this spiced plum jam is going to be your favorite, especially this time of year! 🙂
Tips for making plum jam (or other homemade jam recipes)
Choose really ripe plums. Even overripe or slightly bruised ones. Basically, don’t be afraid to use plums that are usually rejected for consumption. The extra sugar in ripe/overripe plums is perfect for jam-making. It’s a great way to reduce food waste too.
Macerate the plums overnight (up to 24 hours). This makes the plum flesh softer, which makes for a smoother plum jam as the fruits will cook faster. Plus the flavor of the spices is more prominent too.
Place little glass bowls, saucers or spoons in the freezer overnight too. This will help with your jam test, so your jam will set correctly after cooking. Use a thermometer to check the temperature too if possible.
Use a large pot. Bubbling hot jam spits as it cooks. So please take care to avoid burns. Using a large pot (preferably with tall sides), will minimize splatter.
Sterilize jars. Especially if you’re making a large batch of jam. Sterilized and sealed jars will keep the jam fresh for a long time. Plus, you can give the extras to family and friends as gifts too. Use glass jars that can withstand high temperatures.
Keep the jar really warm (hot, but can be handled) when pouring the hot jam in. If there’s a large enough temperature difference between the jam and jars, the jar will crack.
Equipment used for this recipe
Large pot – I use a 5 qt pot for making caramel or jam. Great for any recipe that requires a large capacity pot.
Silicone spatula – A heat-resistant silicone spatula is great for stirring jam and to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Skimmer – I use this to skim the foam off the top of the jam mixture as it cooks.
Glass Jars – I love these Le Parfait jars to store my jams and preserves. But if you have empty bottles from previously eaten jam jars, use those instead.
Tongs – Makes it super easy to get the hot jars out of boiling water without burning your fingers! Plus, you don’t run the risk of these jars accidentally slipping through your fingers.
Other Jam recipes you may like,
Other recipes that use overripe fruits,
Spiced Plum Jam from fresh plums
INTERMEDIATE - Easy recipe to follow, HOWEVER, you will need to understand what to look for in the jam test. Also requires knowledge of sterilizing jars. Will need to exercise caution as the jam and jars will be very hot at this stage. US based cup, teaspoon, tablespoon measurements. Common Measurement ConversionsMakes about 4 - 4 ½ pints.
- 3½ lbs black plums OR Italian plums, seeds removed (about 4 - 4.5 lbs whole plums)
- 3½ cups white sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 - 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 star anise
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom generous ¼ tsp
- ¼ tsp ground cloves generous ¼ tsp
- 7 oz granny smith green apples grated (1 - 2 green apples)
- Wash the plums well. To remove the seeds - first cut the plum in half. Next, cut the plum half with the seed, in half again (into quarters). One of these quarters will have the seed attached, which you can easily pull out. Alternatively, you can cut the plum flesh around the seed.
- Repeat with all the plums.
- Cut all the plums into 1 inch chunks (roughly). It’s OK if the plums are a little crushed at this point, since they will be cooked down anyway.
- WEIGH the chopped plums, so you can decide how much sugar needs to be added. Place the plums in a large bowl (large enough to accommodate the sugar that will be mixed in too).
- Add sugar, salt, lemon juice and spices into the bowl. Mix well.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or up to 48 hours). Also, place some small saucers / bowls / spoons in the freezer for the jam test (explained below).
- When you're ready to cook the jam, scrape all of the plum-sugar mix into a large pot. Add the grated apple and stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture to let it heat evenly. Lower the heat to medium - medium low, and cook until the fruits start to soften.
- MASH the plums with a potato masher, OR you can pass about ¾ of the mix through a food mill (this will remove the skins).
- Continue to cook the plums until the mixture reduces and starts to thicken slightly. Stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom and burning. While the jam is cooking, sterilize some heat-proof jam jars and lids.
- Check the temperature of the plum jam every 10 - 15 minutes (more frequently as it thickens more). Cook the jam until the temperature reaches 220°F (105°C).
- If you don’t have a thermometer, you can perform the JAM TEST. To do this, drop a little jam on a frozen surface (saucer / bowl / spoon). Then keep it in the freezer for about a minute and check the consistency. If the consistency is jelly-like without being runny, then you’ve cooked the jam to the right temperature. (If you run a finger through the jam to create a streak, the jam shouldn't join back up in the middle to fill the streak, if it's at the right consistency).
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Using clean tongs, clean ladles and clean paper towels, carefully ladle hot jam into the hot, sterilized jars. Please be careful, as the jam and jars will be very hot at this stage (wear gloves or oven mitts to protect yourself).
- Screw on the lids while the jars are hot. As the jam and jars cool down, this will create a seal.
- Allow the jars to cool to room temperature completely. Then label and store.