This Plum Butter recipe will yield you several jars of sweet and slightly tangy goodness to use for biscuits, pancakes or even for adding to yogurt. Using a crockpot makes this recipe very hands off and canning the jars makes them shelf stable.
The difference between jelly, jams and butters
Jelly uses just the juice of the fruit and leaves a quite a bit of waste or mash – which is the the skin and flesh of the fruit. The juice is combined with sugar and pectin to make it gel. Here are instructions for making a simple plum jelly.
Jam uses the whole fruit, sugar, and sometimes pectin. Spices can be added to the jam to change the flavor such as this plum jam with orange and cardamom. But many jams are made without spices.
Fruit butters are also made with the whole fruit, sugar, and spices but they are cooked for quite a while to deepen the flavor. They are also blended to be smooth, unlike jam which is left chunky.
Plums for making fruit butter
You can use any plums you have on hand to make plum butter but I would suggest using plums that are very ripe. Making plum butter is a great way to use up overripe plums or even plums that have been bruised.
All fresh plums can be canned, this includes wild plums, Italian plums, Asian plums or “regular” plums that you’d find in your local grocery store. Plum butter made with red plums will have a more muted color than plum butter made with deep purple skin plums.
If you have access to a plum tree, you can make all kinds of plum goodies for gift giving. Most of these are preserved in small jars which make them perfect for gifts.
This is also a great way to use up the plum mash that’s left over from making plum jelly.
Sugar and Spices
Because plums are high acid foods and they can be canned without added sugar, you can use whatever amount of sugar you want in this plum butter recipe. I’ll give amounts of white sugar I use but just know you can use more or less sugar based on your family’s preference.
You can also use brown sugar, maple syrup or honey to sweeten your plum butter. This is really a super safe and easy recipe to experiment with for flavor combinations.
Cinnamon powder and clove powder are commonly used in plum butter recipes. You can also add other dry spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, or all spice. Vanilla bean is another great addition to plum butter.
Lemon juice will give plum butter a little extra tang and is a good addition.
Making plum butter
This recipe uses 10 pounds of plums, the weight is before the pit has been removed. You can adjust the recipe to make more or less without compromising the safety since plums are a high acid food.
The plums should be rinsed well to remove any dirt that’s before you cut into them.
There are some plums that have a pit that is easy to remove, these are called freestone plums. To remove the pits, you just cut the plum in half and twist the plum halves to separate. Then you can use your fingers to remove the pit from plum half.
Clingstone plums have a pit that’s not so easy to remove. You can still probably open the plum up the “cut in half and twist” method but it will a little harder. You’ll need a knife to cut the pit out of the plum half that it is clinging to.
The pit of small clingstone plums such as Damsons and wild plums can be removed by using a cherry pitter.
I like to use a crockpot to make plum butter but you can use a stovetop pot, however, you’ll need to watch it more closely than you would if you used a crockpot.
Place plums in the crockpot, put the lid on and cook on high for 2 hours.
After the two hours are up, take the lid off the crockpot and turn the temperature down to low. Puree fruit with an immersion blender also called a stick blender. If you don’t have an immersion or stick blender, you can use a food processor, regular blender, or food mill. Just be careful transferring the hot plums from the slow cooker to the food processor.
Add the sugar and spices to the plum puree and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours with the lid off. Keeping the lid off will help the moisture evaporate and will thicken the plum butter until it has a jam-like consistency . I like to stir it every hour or so to make sure it doesn’t get to dry on the sides.
Canning plum butter
Fill the water bath canner about 2/3 full with water. Put it on the stove and bring to a simmer. If you don’t have a water bath canner, you can use a large pot a silicone pad or kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from being directly against the bottom of the pot.
Wash the lids and bands and set them aside. Most lid manufacturers no longer recommend putting them in boiling water.
Wash the jars in hot soapy water and rinse well.
Fill the jars with the plum butter, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace – which is the space between the top of the plum butter and the rim of the jar.
Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth.
Put the lids on the jars and screw on the bands.
Using a jar lifter, put the jars in the water bath canner. If there isn’t enough water in the pot to cover the jars by at least an inch, add more hot water to the canner.
Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a rolling boil.
Boil the jars for 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off and using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canner.
Put the jars on a towel on the counter. Let the jars sit overnight.
The next day, remove the bands and check the seals on the jars. If a jar didn’t seal, put it in the refrigerator to use first.
Wipe the sealed jars with a damp cloth and label them. Store them at room temperature and use within 12 months.
Freezing plum butter
While I think canning is the best way to store plum butter, some people prefer to freeze it. Maybe you’re making it in small batches and don’t want to mess with canning it? Or maybe you’ve run out of time? Whatever your reason, freezing plum butter is a great way to store it.
Once the plum butter is made, you can put it in small canning jars and leave an inch headspace. Put a lid and band on the jar and label it. Straight side mason jars work best for freezing.
If you don’t want to freeze in glass, you can use plastic containers or freezer bags.
Put the plum butter in the refrigerator overnight to let it cool off before putting it in the freezer. This will help keep the jars from breaking due to thermal shock.
The next day, move the plum butter into the freezer. Use within a year.
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- 10 pounds plums
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Wash the plums to remove any dirt on them.
- Remove the pits and slice the plums in half.
- Put the prepared plums in the crockpot, put the lid on and cook on high for 2 hours.
- After the two hours are up, take the lid off the crockpot and turn the temperature down to low. Use an immersion blender to blend the plums until smooth.
- Add the sugar and spices and cook on low for 6-8 hours with the lid off. Keeping the lid off will help the moisture evaporate and will thicken the plum butter. I like to stir it every hour or so to make sure it doesn't get to dry on the sides.
- Fill the water bath canner about 2/3 full with water. Put it on the stove and bring to a simmer.
- Wash the lids and bands and set them aside. Most lid manufacturers no longer recommend putting them in boiling water.
- Wash the jars in hot soapy water and rinse well.
- Fill the jars with the plum butter, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace - which is the space between the top of the plum butter and the rim of the jar.
- Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth.
- Put the lids on the jars and screw on the bands.
- Using a jar lifter, put the jars in the water bath canner. The water needs to cover the jars by at least an inch. If it doesn't, add more hot water to the canner.
- Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Boil the jars for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canner.
- Put the jars on a towel on the counter. Let the jars sit overnight.
- In the morning, remove the bands and check the seals on the jars. If a jar didn't seal, put it in the refrigerator to use first. Wipe the jars with a damp cloth and label them. Use within 12 months.
1. You can use brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey to sweeten the plum butter.
2. You can add other spices such as nutmeg, all spice, cardamom, vanilla, or even lemon or orange juice to change up the flavor.