This plum and apple jam (low sugar and no store-bought pectin) is sweet yet tangy because of the plums (and their skin). It’s a great way to preserve plums and apples, it’s an easy jam to make, and is rather quick.
Well, let me tell you, this plum and apple jam is a special jam to me. It’s delicious! Somehow, it’s sweet and tart at the same time (of course that will change a bit depending on your fruit. Another amazing sweet and tart jam is this cranberry apple jam).
It’s thick so it’s a great jam to use in baking like when you make these delicious thumbprint cookies. It’s made with half the amount of sugar that you would find in traditional jams and no store-bought pectin… Everyone loves it so I can sell so much of it at the farmer’s market… But above all, this year, I was able to make it with my own plums from a tree that I was sure was dead!
Plum and Apple Jam…
Here is the story… I have made this jam before many times, but always with store-bought fruit. When we moved to this house back in 2016, we found something like 300 pints of canned plum jam in the shed.
A quick look around revealed a huge plum tree and three apple trees. All mature and beautiful (neglected though). The house was abandoned for many years (read more about how I found this $34,000 house in the country) and it was obvious that the jam was very old but the jars were still sealed.
I opened one and tried it but it tasted like old sugar. So we ended up cleaning out the shed and throwing everything away, however, I was totally excited and told myself that I would get ready for the next summer when the huge plum tree in the backyard would start giving me fruit.
The apple trees were in bad shape so I didn’t expect much from them, but the plum tree is so big I was sure it was going to produce a ton. Then summer came and the tree produced nothing. Another summer and another… Nothing.
I tried to prune the tree, and fertilized it a bit. There was one year that it produced a tiny bit but all the plums were bit by a fly and were full of worms.
I gave up. I figured the tree was too old and there was nothing else I could do. My ex-husband built a cute tree house on it for the kids and I made peace with the fact that I would just have to enjoy the beauty of it. At some point between the third summer and the fourth, I moved my chicken killing cone from where it was and hammered it to the plum tree since it’s the largest tree around.
Now, if you don’t raise your own meat this might freak you out a little bit, but around here, we raise chickens and ducks for their meat and butcher them. I started butchering my chickens and ducks right there under the plum tree. Every time that I butcher a chicken or butcher a duck I let the blood drain from the animal.
I don’t catch the blood of the animal. I just let it hit the ground right under the tree… And what do you know… In my fourth summer here, after I completely gave up, the tree suddenly started producing plums!
Now, this is just a theory, but I think that what happened was that the blood from the animals was feeding the tree over a period of a few months and basically recharged the tree. Another funny thing is that the plums are blood red! Ha! The jam that I found in the shed was purple, not at all red like the one you’ll see below.
Ummm… Is there a connection here? I have no clue but I didn’t ask too many questions. I just collected all the plums that I could! I had so much fruit that at some point I had to start freezing it (just like I freeze tomatoes when they are coming at me like a tsunami from the garden).
I then thawed some and made plum bread (same recipe as my apple cake just with plums and in a couple of bread pans), and I made this delicious plum and apple jam and canned it. Before I share the recipe with you, let’s gather the tools that we’ll need…
Tools That We Will Need…
Cutting board – I always use my beloved wooden cutting board to chop fruits or vegetables.
Peeler – to peel the apples.
Knife – to dice the apples and plums if your plums are not as soft as mine.
Large bowl – for all the diced apples and plums, or you can add them straight to the pot.
Shallow and wide pot – with a heavy bottom. This is my preferred kind of pot if I am making a smaller batch of jam.
Spatula – to stir the goodness and remove the foam.
Immersion blender – apples keep their shape surprisingly well while they cook. I use an immersion blender to smooth the jam.
Water bath canner – we are going to process this jam in the water bath canner and also sanitize the jars in there.
Ladle – to scoop the jam into the jars.
1/2 pint jars – I used half a pint but you can also use a pint. I don’t think that quart jars will work for this.
Lids and bands – to cover and close the jars, of course. Make sure to use new lids so the seal is in good condition, but you can reuse bands.
Canning utensils – we are going to use pretty much all of them… The funnel, jar lifter, bubble remover, and the lid lifter.
Paper towel – to clean the rim of the jar before we cover and close it.
That’s all we need, now let’s get to work!
Preparing the Fruit…
Every morning I send the kids out to collect the plums from the grass under the tree. They eat as many plums as they want fresh and bring me the rest. I then wash them and stick them in a bag and send them to the freezer. They won’t be good for fresh eating after thawed, but I can make plum bread with them or jam or a cobbler and so on. So I started this jam by thawing a little over 2 lb of plums…
Once they were thawed, I simply squished them and removed the pit. In this plum and apple jam, I use the skin of the plum. You’ll see later that I use an immersion blender to smooth the jam and in the final product you can’t really feel the skin at all, however, it gives the jam this delicious tangy (kinda sour) taste. After cleaning the plums I was left with 2 pounds of plums.
Next are the apples. Here, I do remove the peel simply because it’s tough…
So I peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Then I remove the core and dice the apples. I used 7 medium gala apples for this batch. Feel free to use any variety of apples, just take into consideration that the taste of the jam might change a bit depending on the apples that you use.
Bringing Plum and Apple Jam to a Boil…
Make sure to weigh the apples and plums. You can put them all in one big bowl and weigh them. This is important, because really, you don’t have to have a recipe for this jam.
Weigh your fruit after you cleaned it and then add it to a wide and shallow pot with a heavy bottom. Then add half of the weight of the fruit in sugar.
If you follow this rule, it doesn’t really matter how much fruit you are processing. You don’t have to follow the recipe exactly, just follow the general directions.
I turn the heat to medium-high and stir. The sugar will start melting…
And then the mixture will come to a boil. This might take around 10 minutes but I don’t try to rush it so I doesn’t burn the fruit. I just stir and let the fruit and sugar mixture come to a boil slowly. Then I lower the heat a little more and gently boil the mixture for 10 minutes.
Preparing the Lids, Bands, and Jars…
While the jam is cooking, I go ahead and prepare the water bath canner, jars, lids, and bands. I fill the canner with enough water to cover the half-pint jars by about an inch. I set the canner on the stovetop and turn the heat to high.
I open the jars and place the lids and rings in their own little pot. I cover them with water, place the pot on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. I let it boil for five minutes before I turn the heat off. I leave the lids and bands inside the pot with water until I need them.
I place the jars in the canner. It takes some time for the water in the canner to come to a boil but I kinda forget about it and go back to work on the jam. Once the water in the canner is boiling, I let it boil for 5 minutes to sanitize the jars before I lower the heat.
Usually, the jam is not ready for canning yet, so I lower the heat just to keep the water in the canner hot and leave the jars there until I am ready for canning.
Blending the Jam…
After about 10 minutes of boiling, I lower the heat to medium-low. You might notice that there is some foam on the top but I usually don’t do much with it at this point. If there is still foam when the jam is done and ready for canning, I’ll scoop it out. So now, I keep stirring and cooking on medium-low for another 10 minutes or so…
By this point the fruit is soft and I can use the immersion blender to blend it all together.
Please be careful when you use the immersion blender! Make sure that the head of the blender is under the liquid and stop the knife from spinning before you pull it up.
You don’t want boiling jam flying in your face. Trust me…
You can blend it all the way (like when we make apple butter) or leave large chunks of fruit. It’s up to you. You get to make it however you want.
Adding Lemon Juice and Checking Thickness…
After smoothing the jam, I keep stirring and cooking for a few more minutes (5 or so) before I add the juice from half of a large lemon and a couple of lemon seeds. Lemon seeds have a lot of natural pectin in them. Since my jams are made with half of the amount of sugar that you find in traditional jams I can’t use store-bought pectin.
But there is no need for it. We can help the jam thicken and reach that gel phase by adding lemon seeds. Usually, I add more than a couple of seeds but plum and apple jam thickens very quickly (not like this low sugar strawberry jam) probably because the apples don’t have too much juice in them.
After adding the lemon and its seeds I keep cooking the jam and stirring it for an additional 15 minutes or so. When I think that the jam is ready, I scoop some of it with a tablespoon and let it cool on the counter for a few minutes.
Then I bring the spoon over the pot and let the jam fall back into the pot. As it leaves the spoon, I am able to measure its thickness. Remember that the jam will keep thickening after it has cooled completely in the jars!
Once the jam is ready I remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Usually by this time the jars, canner, lids, and bands are all ready to go and I can go ahead and can this plum and apple jam.
Canning Plum and Apple Jam…
I use my jar lifters and lift one jar from the canner. I empty the water back to the canner, then set my jar on the wooden cutting board. I use the canning funnel and a ladle to fill the jar with the hot jam making sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace.
Next, I use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles…
Then, I clean the rim with a damp, clean paper towel. I use the lid lifters to lift one lid from the pot of hot water and center it on the jar before I grab a band and close the jar finger-tight.
Processing Plum and Apple Jam…
I repeat the process with all of the jars and set them back on the rack in the canner. Then I cover the canner, turn the heat back up, bring the water in the canner to a boil again and process the jars for 15 minutes. Processing time is the same for half-pint and pint jars, however…
If you live in elevation above 1,000 feet, you’ll have to adjust processing time according to the table above. Once processing time is done, I turn the heat off and uncover the canner. I then let the jars sit there in the hot water for five minutes before using the jar lifters to remove them from the canner. I set them on the kitchen counter on a kitchen towel.
Storing and Serving Plum and Apple Jam…
I let the jars cool undisturbed overnight. As they cool, you’ll hear the pop that indicates that the jars have sealed. In the morning, I check to make sure that all of the jars are sealed. I simply press the center of each lid. If there is no movement there it means that the jar is sealed and ready for storage.
I wipe each jar, remove the band (so I can reuse it and so I can see better what’s going on inside the jar) and store it on my canning shelves. You can store the jars in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet as well. I try to use all of my canned goods within a year.
If you have a jar that didn’t seal properly you can either store it in the fridge and use it first or open it, clean the rim, change the lid, close it with the band and process it again.
I serve this jam just like any other jam, on toast or on crackers that we love adding cream cheese underneath. I love adding it to yogurt or sour cream. It’s a pretty thick jam (like this persimmon jam) so it’s a great one to bake with as well. And it can be a great gift too!
I hope that you like this recipe! Make sure to pin it for later and leave me a comment below. I would love to know how you liked it!
Also, make sure to check these other jam recipes…
For a list of all of my jam recipes, make sure to check my jam recipe page!
- 2 lb of plums, diced and pit removed (leave skin on)
- 7 medium-large apples, peeled, pit removed, and diced
- 2 lb sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- 6-7 lemon seeds (to thicken the jam naturally)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the fruit and sugar to a wide and shallow pot with a heavy bottom.
- Set on the stovetop, turn heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 10 minutes (stir frequently).
- While the jam is cooking you can prepare the water bath canner if you are going to can this jam. Fill the canner with enough water to cover the jars by about an inch. Set it on the stovetop and place the jars inside on the rack. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low just to keep the water hot until you are ready to can the jam. You can leave the jars in there until you need them.
Add the lids and bands to a different (smaller)pot. Fill it with water to cover the lids and bands and bring it to a boil as well. Let it boil for 5 minutes before turning the heat off. leave the lids and bands in the hot water until you need them.
- By this time, the fruit is soft. Use an immersion blender or a potato masher to mash or blend the fruit to your desired consistency. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Squeeze the juice of one lemon right into the pot and add 3-4 lemon seeds to the jam (the seeds are full of natural pectin and will help the jam thicken). Stir the juice and seeds in.
- Keep cooking for another 15 minutes or so or until the jam reaches your desired consistency (still stirring frequently). Take into consideration that the jam will keep thickening as it cools.
- Once the jam has reached it's desired consistency, remove the pot from the heat and stir in one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- To can this jam... Fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, clean the rim with a damp and clean paper towel, center the lid and close with the band. Add the closed jars back to the water bath canner.
- Cover the canner, turn the heat to high again and bring the water back to a boil. Process pints and half pint jars for 15 minutes (if you live in elevation higher than 1000 feet you will have to adjust processing time. You can find the adjustment table in the post).
- Once processing time is done, turn the heat off and uncover the canner. Let the jars sit there in the hot water for 5 minutes or so.
- Use the jar lifters to remove the jars from the canner. Set them on your kitchen counter on a kitchen towel undisturbed overnight to cool completely.
- In the morning, check that all the jars have sealed. Remove the bands, wipe the jars, and store in the pantry.
You can use any variety of plums and any variety of apples in this recipe.
I like to use half pint jars but you can also use pint jars. Processing time is the same.
How to check the thickness of the jam:
Scoop a little bit of jam onto a spoon and set aside to cool for five minutes. After five minutes, add the jam back to the pot. Watch it as it leaves the spoon, you'll get an idea of how thick it is as it falls back into the pot.
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Cuisinart CSB-79 Smart Stick 2 Speed Hand Blender, Stainless Steel/Black
Norpro Canning Essentials Boxed Set, 6 Piece Set
PremiumVials 12 pcs 8 oz Mason Jars with Silver Lids for Jam, Honey, Wedding Favors, Shower Favors, Baby Foods, Canning, spices, Half Pint
Granite Ware Covered Preserving Canner with Rack, 12-Quart
Nutrition Information:Yield: 128 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 37Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 0g
Hi! I’m Lady Lee. I help homesteaders simplify their homesteading journey while still producing a ton of food! I am a single mother of four, I was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. Now I homestead in central NC.