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My Grandmother's Best Plum Jam Recipe

Verity is a physics with teaching BSc (Hons) graduate. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read and play video games.

Some of the jars of plum jam that I made with my latest batch

Some of the jars of plum jam that I made with my latest batch

How to Make Plum Jam

My nana has been making plum jam for my family for as long as I can remember, and to this day, it remains my favourite jam above all others. I asked her for the recipe not long ago, so she wrote it out and sent it to me in the post. I was surprised by how simple it was, given how delicious it is. I made several jars and handed them out to friends and family for their feedback. I have received glowing compliments all round (and a suggestion that I make jam on a weekly basis), so it must be good!

The colour of the jam depends on the type of plums that you use. My recommendation is to get hold of some British Victoria plums where possible. They are slightly egg-shaped and have yellow flesh with red or mottled skin. Below this recipe, I have included advice on sterilising jars and some other useful tips you might find useful. Enjoy!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

1 hour

1 hour 10 min

2 1/2 kilograms of jam


  • 1 1/2 kilograms plums
  • 1 1/2 kilograms granulated sugar
  • 250 millilitres water


  1. Wash the plums. Halve them, then remove the stalks and stones.
  2. Put the plums into a large-capacity pot with the water. (Try to avoid aluminium pots where possible. Aluminium coated in Teflon should be fine.)
  3. Cook slowly until all of the fruit has broken down into a paste-like consistency. The time for this will vary depending on how ripe and firm your plums are (expect between 20–40 minutes).
  4. Add the sugar and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  5. Bring it to a boil, then boil rapidly.
  6. After 10 minutes, test for set. Do this by placing a plate in the freezer before starting. When you're ready for the test, take the plate out of the freezer and take the jam off the hob. Use a spoon to blob a little bit of jam onto the plate. Wait a few seconds and push it with your finger. If the jam is sticky and forms a skin, it is set. If it is runny, return the pan to the heat for another 5 minutes and test again.
  7. Take the jam off the heat and use a wide-mouth funnel to pour your jam into sterilised jars (while the jars are still warm to eliminate the chances of the glass cracking).
  8. Fill the jars almost up to the brim, seal with lids immediately and turn upside down for an hour (or until cool).
  9. Sealed jars may be stored at room temperature. Once you open a jar, however, it should be stored in the fridge.
The plums in the pan before they had started to soften and break down

The plums in the pan before they had started to soften and break down

The plums after 30 minutes in the pan with water, after they had broken down substantially

The plums after 30 minutes in the pan with water, after they had broken down substantially

Sterilising Jars and Extra Tips

It is very important to sterilise your jam jars before use. This ensures that your jam stays fresh for as long as possible. Here's what I do:

  1. First, I sterilise my jam jars by washing them (and their lids) in very hot soapy water, then rinsing with boiling water.
  2. I then place them upside-down on a clean baking sheet (covered in greaseproof paper) and put them in a preheated oven at 120 °C (250 °F). The jars stay in the oven like that until I am ready to put the jam into them.
  3. I then take out the jars one by one (wearing oven gloves) as I need them and fill them up.
  4. I use oven gloves to put the lid on the jar as soon as it is full and then place it upside down on a towel, before taking out the next jar.

The jars I use are very reliable, and I love the twist lids. I've even been told that they look professional enough to sell, so I recommend them. I don't have a wide-mouthed funnel, so instead, I use a milk jug with the bottom cut off. I invert it over the jar, holding on to the handle, and pour into the missing 'bottom'. The jam then comes out of the mouth of the jug into the jars.

I also find it very helpful to put down a towel throughout this process for any little stray blobs. Then I can throw it in the wash and avoid spending time scrubbing at my countertops. If you have any of your own jam-making tips, please do share them below! If you try this recipe, comment and let me know how it goes! Thank you for reading.

I Use These Jars and I Love Them

© 2019 VerityPrice