Easy recipe for spiced plum jam without pectin, with the best spices to go with plums and jam-making tips. Great for breakfast, with cheese and ideal as Christmas food gifts.
Made this Spiced Jam for the first time, absolutely delicious. Will definitely make this recipe again, brilliant way to use up a glut of Victoria plums thank you.C Christie
Ratio of Sugar to Fruit in Jam-Making
Normally I've been using the standard 750g sugar to 1 kilo of fruit. Gradually over the years I've been reducing the sugar quantity as much as I dare - to 650g per kilo of fruit.
However, as commercial jam is only officially jam at 55% sugar, I would like to be able to decrease this amount of sugar even more. For more on reducing sugar to the maximum for homemade jam, see my recipe for Fig Jam which experiments with this in much more detail.
What Kind of Plums are Best for Jam?
Any of the European plums (Prunus domestica) are ideal for making jam.
For this jam with added spices, I prefer the darker purple varieties such as Quetches, Ente plums (known as Prune plum as used to make prunes), damson or the red-yellow Victoria plums. Outside of France, the Japanese or Chinese plum will also work deliciously well.
If you love greengages (Reine-Claude) or mirabelle plums, then replace the spices with vanilla.
For more, including what flavours go well with plums,
see the French market page on plums.
Do You Have to Pit Plums When Making Jam?
I'd suggest you remove the plum stones. Just cut each plum in half and remove the pits easily.
However, the good news is there's no need to skin or peel plums before making jam.
What Spices Go Well With Plums?
We love plums simply roasted with warming spices but, best of all, in this jam. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds and some star anise.
If you don't have much time, the best is to add pain d'épices, which is used in France for classic French gingerbread. If you can't find them, the closest in pumpkin spice.
How to Add Spices to Jam
Leave the plums, sugar and spices covered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Do I Need Pectin to Make Plum Jam?
Plums are naturally high in pectin there is no need to add any pectin. So:
- Use normal granulated sugar without the added pectin in special jam sugar.
- Add a touch of lemon juice, which is also high in pectin and acidity.
These two factors help the jam to thicken naturally without any help - as well as simmering to reduce at the end of cooking.
How to Make Spiced Plum Jam
Full printable recipe card below.
First wash the plums and prepare them by cutting in half to remove their stones. There's no need to peel them. Weigh the quantity of plums and weigh out ⅔rds of sugar to plums (650g sugar to 1 kilo plums).
Cover the plums in the sugar, add the spices and leave covered to macerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Over 4 hours later of after leaving the sugar and spices overnight to work their magic, the sugar has dissolved. Just smell that fragrance when you lift off that lid!
Give the whole lot a stir and leave on medium heat until it starts to bubble. Stir occasionally.
Should You Take the Scum Off Jam?
Foamy scum usually forms once the jam is heating. This is perfectly normal and harmless. However, it's best to remove it because it will affect the final look of your jam, causing many air bubbles and taking up necessary glossy, colourful jam real estate.
So discard most of the scum using a slotted spoon. Adding a knob of butter is a quick family tip we use to lessen the amount of scum but it's not difficult to remove it, as it tends to appear in convenient clumps, as shown.
Once the jam is clear, continue to bubble nicely until reduced and a little on a plate sets. Ladle into sterilized jars (see instructions on my post for fig jam).
What Does Spiced Plum Jam Taste Like?
As plums are both sweet and acidic, the added sugar makes a well balanced jam that's not too sweet. As sugar is kept to a minimum, the tartness of the plums shines through. The added spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves and aniseed from the pain d'épices) make the taste quite warm and even slightly Christmassy.
It's even great on cheese scones.
Above all, it accompanies strong French cheeses well and foie gras for holiday menus - so don't forget to add this to a cheeseboard. If you love jam with cheese or foie gras without the spice, then try this Corsican Fig Jam.
Spiced Plum Jam
- 1 kg (1lb 3oz) Victoria or Ente Plums (ripe but still quite firm) stones removed, skins on
- 650 g (1.5lb) Granulated sugar
- 4 cardamoms
- 2 cloves
- 2 teaspoon Gingerbread (pain d'épices) or pumpkin spice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or juice of ½ lemon)
- Wash and cut the plums in half, removing the stones (there's no need to peel the fruit). Weigh the fruits and add the equivalent of sugar (I use 650g to each kilo). Add the spices and lemon juice then leave covered at room temperature for about 4 hours or overnight.
- In a large high-sided jam pan, boil up the sugared spicy plums, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. After 5-10 minutes, skim off and discard any scum (white foam) that appears on the surface. Continue for about another 15 mins until the fruit softens and the jam thickens.
- Remove the whole spices and squeeze out the cardamom seeds into the jam.Ladle or spoon into sterilised jars, leaving a gap of about a centimetre at the top (To sterilise: I just use the dishwasher, as machines' normal settings should be hot enough to sterilise them. If you don't have a dishwasher, clean the jars and lids in soapy water, rinse then immerse for at least 10 mins in boiling water).
- Tightly screw on the lids, turn the jam jars upside down. When cool, label and store in a cool dry place.
This recipe was first published on 20 September 2016 but is now completely updated.