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Plum Jelly

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Homemade plum jelly is not only delicious but also a great jelly for beginner canners to learn the art of jelly making. You can use wild plums, homegrown plums or purchased plums….they all make a great jelly.

I prefer to can plum jelly to save on freezer space, but you can skip the canning and freeze the jelly if that’s more your thing.

homemade plum jelly dripping off spoon

If you’re new to canning jelly and jams, I want to encourage you to read our article on safely canning jams and jellies. Because plums are high acid foods and there is a bunch of sugar in this recipe, it’s a very safe canning recipe. And while there is no risk of botulism (since it needs a low acid environment) it’s still possible to mess up and allow other bacteria to grow.

Difference Between Jams, Jellies, and Butters

Jams use the whole fruit and cook it down until the fruit is soft. Jams don’t usually have added pectin because you can just cook it as long as you need to make it thicken up. Jams will sometimes have spices added to them but not often. We have a Plum Jam with Orange and Cardamom recipe if you want to try your hand at making plum jam.

Butters are similar to jams but they’re cooked longer and often have warming spices added to them. The longer the fruit butter is cooked, the deeper the flavor is. Butters are often blended with an immersion blender to make them smooth.

Jellies use just the juice of the fruit. Because of that, pectin is often added along with sugar and sometimes a little butter to keep the jelly from foaming.

There are other types of canned fruit preserves, too.

What is Pectin?

Pectin is a naturally occurring fiber found in fruits. Some fruits have more pectin than others, for instance, apples have more pectin than cherries. As fruit matures it looses some of its pectin, so not quite ripe plums will have more pectin than very ripe plums.

Pectin is also sold in various forms such as liquid, powder, low-sugar, etc. This plum jelly recipe uses commercial “classic” pectin, which means there’s quite a bit of sugar in it. If you want to experiment with low-sugar pectin or natural pectin, you can read all about the different kinds of pectin for canning and how to use them.

bowl of plum halves ready for canning

Making Plum Juice Without a Juicer

To make the plum juice, you don’t need a juicer. Although if you have a steam juicer, they are super handy to use for this. For this recipe you’ll need about 5 cups of plum juice.

You’ll need about 4 1/2 pounds of whole plums that have been cut in half, or at least had their skin pricked several times. You can remove the pits or leave them in. I remove the pits because I like to use the leftover mash for other things and I don’t want to have to pick out the pits. But if you’re just going to compost the mash, go ahead and leave the pits in.

Put the plums in a large stockpot with one cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle the plums and juice into a mesh strainer to strain out the solids. Don’t mash the fruit as it will go through the strainer and into the juice which will make your jelly cloudy.

I just let it drain until I have 5 cups of plum juice. Whatever juice and mash that’s left, get’s put back into the pot to make plum butter.

open jars of homemade plum jelly being canned

Making Plum Jelly

Step 1: Prepare the canner, jars, and lids

Wash the canner and racks with hot soapy water. Fill the water bath canner 2/3 of the way full with water and put it on the stove over medium heat.

Wash the lids with hot soapy water. Most metal lids do not need to be kept hot before using, however, read the side of the box if you are unsure if your lids do. If you’re using Harvest Guard reusable lids, they need to be simmered in hot water immediately prior to being used.

Wash the jars with hot soapy water. Because the processing time for plum jelly is only 5 minutes, the jars will need to be sterilized. So put them in the canner and bring the water to a boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Leave the jars in the canner until you’re ready to fill them.

Step 2: Prepare the Plum Jelly

Measure 5 cups of juice and put it in a large stockpot. Add one box of “classic” pectin. Heat the juice over medium high heat.

If you want to add 1 tablespoon of butter to juice and pectin to keep it from foaming so much, now is the time. I don’t usually do this and instead just skim the foam off before I fill the jars.

Bring the juice to a rolling boil and then add in 7 cups of sugar. Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Set a timer – boiling it longer can cause the jelly to be really firm and hard to spread.

The jelly will be runny like syrup – don’t worry, it will firm up as it cools off after the jars have been processed.

Step 3: Fill the Jars

Remove the jars from the canner and put them on a towel on the counter. Ladle the jelly into the sterilized jars leaving a 1/4″ headspace.

Wipe the rims with a clean cloth and put the lids and bands on the jars.

Step 4: Process the Jars

Put the filled jars into the canner.

The water needs to cover the jars by at least 1″. If it doesn’t, you need to add more water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 5 minutes for pints and half-pints.

Adjust the processing time for higher elevations.

  • For 1,000 to 6,000 feet -Process 10 minutes for pints and half-pints
  • Over 6,000 feet -Process 15 minutes for pints and half-pints

Once the processing is complete, remove the jars and let them cool on a towel on the counter for 12-24 hours. Once cooled, remove the bands and check the seals. If any jars failed to seal, put them in the refrigerator to use first.

Wipe the jars with a clean, damp rag and store in a cool, dark place.

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Yield: 8 half-pint jars

Plum Jelly

homemade plum jelly dripping off spoon

Plum jelly is easy to make and is a good introduction to learning to can jellies. With just a few ingredients you can stock your pantry with fresh plum jelly.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 cups plum juice (you'll need about 4 1/2 pounds of fresh plums)
  • 1 box powdered pectin
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional)

Instructions

Prepare the canner, jars, and lids

  1. Wash the canner and racks with hot soapy water. Fill the water bath canner 2/3 of the way full with water and put it on the stove over medium heat.
  2. Wash the lids with hot soapy water. Most metal lids do not need to be kept hot before using, however, read the side of the box if you are unsure if your lids do. If you’re using Harvest Guard reusable lids, they need to be simmered in hot water immediately prior to being used.
  3. Wash the jars with hot soapy water. Because the processing time for plum jelly is only 5 minutes, the jars will need to be sterilized. So put them in the canner and bring the water to a boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Leave the jars in the canner until you’re ready to fill them.

Make and Can the Plum Jelly

  1. Measure 5 cups of juice and put it in a large stockpot. Add one box of “classic” pectin. Heat the juice over medium high heat.
  2. If you want to add 1 tablespoon of butter to juice and pectin to keep it from foaming so much, now is the time. I don’t usually do this and instead just skim the foam off before I fill the jars.
  3. Bring the juice to a rolling boil and then add in 7 cups of sugar. Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Set a timer – boiling it longer can cause the jelly to be really firm and hard to spread. The jelly will be runny like syrup – don’t worry, it will firm up as it cools off after the jars have been processed.
  4. Remove the jars from the canner and put them on a towel on the counter. Ladle the jelly into the sterilized jars leaving a 1/4″ headspace.
  5. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth and put the lids and bands on the jars.
  6. Put the filled jars into the canner.
  7. The water needs to cover the jars by at least 1″. If it doesn’t, you need to add more water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 5 minutes for pints and half-pints.
  8. Adjust the processing time for higher elevations. (see notes below)
  9. Once the processing is complete, remove the jars and let them cool on a towel on the counter for 12-24 hours. Once cooled, remove the bands and check the seals. If any jars failed to seal, put them in the refrigerator to use first.
  10. Wipe the jars with a clean, damp rag and store in a cool, dark place.


To Freeze Plum Jelly

  1. Follow the instructions above for making the jelly. The jars do not need to be sterilized but they do need to be washed in hot, soapy water.
  2. When the jelly is finished boiling, ladle it into the clean jars and leave a 1/4" headspace.
  3. Leave the jars uncovered and let them cool for several hours.
  4. Put the lids on the jelly and put them in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. The next morning, transfer the plum jelly to the freezer.

Notes

For higher altitudes the processing time will need to be adjusted.

  • For 1,000 to 6,000 feet -Process 10 minutes for pints and half-pints
  • Over 6,000 feet -Process 15 minutes for pints and half-pints
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    homemade plum jelly spread onto a piece of bread

    Thanks for sharing!

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