This plum jelly makes quick and easy use out of plums without having to pit them. The final product is a beautiful purple, sweet, spiced plum jelly that tastes like what cozy feels like. It also makes an excellent Christmas gift!
Visions of plum trees from long, long ago
I remember my grandpa having a plum tree when I was growing up. My grandpa (poppy) was the first gardening mentor in my life. He kept a veggie garden out back where I remember digging my hands into the dirt and pulling worms out, exploring the natural world and learning about where food came from.
Poppy also had an apple tree and a plum tree. For whatever reason I remember the plum tree best, and when poppy died, I wrote a story about him and his garden and his plum tree affectionately titled “The Smell of Dirt.” I always vowed that when I had my own house I would grow a plum tree in honour of him.
Fast forward to today: We still don’t own our own home, but we do live in a great one right now where we can have a garden, and we enjoy the fruits of the apple and cherry trees on our property. We also share a yard with some pretty awesome neighbours who let us harvest the plums off their tree this year.
They don’t bother to collect the plums anymore because they’re a lot of work to pit and use, but I couldn’t watch them go to waste. No way. Plums are sacred.
So Ryan and I picked every plum we could reach with the orchard ladder and started pitting.
Process plums right away for best results
Now, plums need to be processed pretty much right away. They go mushy really quickly, and last year we lost pounds of them to fruit flies before we had the chance to process them. If you need to hold onto them for any length of time, make sure they go in the fridge as soon as possible.
Anyway, we didn’t want to lose any this year, so we set to pitting them quickly. We soon understood why our dear neighbours didn’t both themselves with these plums. They have a decent amount of meat on them, but were just difficult to pit and very time-consuming.
We did pit a few pounds in the end, which was enough to make a few pints of plum sauce. And we ate a whole bunch of them fresh! But we stared at the mountain of plums that we had left and we knew we had to figure out a way to use them without having to pit them.
It made processing the remaining plums super quick and easy. All I did was throw washed, whole plums into a large, stainless steel pot, add water, cook them down and mash them up into a pulpy liquid. Then I strained the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth to get rich, pure plum juice.
Throw the plum juice back into a clean, stainless steel pot and add a generous helping of sugar and some spices. Bring to a boil, add liquid pectin and pour into jars!
In the end we got about 36 4oz jars of plum jelly. We gave 6 to our neighbours as a thank you and have the rest stored away in the pantry for winter. Well, we may be on our second jar already, but that’s the beauty of preserving at home: You typically get big enough batches to last the year through and maybe even longer, and all for next to no money if you grow your own.
This beautiful, glassy, purple-coloured plum jelly is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. This gives it a cozy, Christmas-y flavour, which also makes it a perfect Christmas gift! So part of our Christmas “shopping” is already done. Another awesome benefit to home preserving:)
And for me, every time I get a taste of plum jelly, I think of that big ol’ plum tree in my poppy’s backyard. I’m reminded of him, and the smell of dirt that I’ve grown to love so much, and I smile.
- 4 cups plum juice (the amount of plums you'll need will depend on the type of plums you are using. We used black plums, and we got about 1 cup of juice per pound of plums. Blue plums are slightly larger and meatier so you will probably need slightly less to to make each cup of juice).
- 6 ½ cups of sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 pouch liquid pectin
- Place whole, washed plums into a large stainless steel pot. Add ½ cup of water for every pound of plums.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently and mashing the plums up as much as possible to extract the juice (I use a potato masher).
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring and mashing plums occasionally. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Fold a large piece of cheesecloth 3 times (so there are 3 layers of cheesecloth to strain liquid through) and place over a colander. Place colander in a large glass, plastic or stainless steel pot or bowl for the liquid to strain into.
- Transfer mixture to the cheesecloth-lined colander and allow liquid to strain through into the pot or bowl. Squeeze mixture in cheesecloth occasionally to help extract the liquid. Allow mixture to strain for about 2 hours, then removed colander, cheesecloth and solids and discard (solids leftover from plums are great for the compost!)
- Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids: Inspect jars to ensure there are no nicks or cracks in the glass, especially around the jar rim as this can prevent a proper seal. Wash jars and bands in hot, soapy water, rinse and then sterilize by simmering in water over medium-high heat, either in a canner or large pot with a rack in the bottom on. Leave jars in simmering hot water until ready to fill. Sterilize new lids in a bowl of hot water.
- Measure out 4 cups of the plum juice per batch (do not do a double batch when working with liquid pectin as it can affect the set).
- In a large stainless steel pot, combine plum juice, sugar and spices (spices mix best when you use a whisk to mix them in).
- Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add entire pouch of liquid pectin and boil hard for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam from the top.
- Pour jelly mixture into hot, sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims and place lids and bands on jars, tightening bands to fingertip-tight (tight enough that resistance is met but not so tight that air can't escape when canning).
- Place jars in canner making sure they're completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars. Allow to cool completely and then store in a cool, dark place.