Easy Small Batch Spiced Plum Preserve ( No pectin)



Hello every one! I would like to introduce you all to my first ever bottle of jam. I am so hooked!
Update: This bottle of jam was featured on Yummly's 10 Fruity Fall Jams for National Canning Day 
Ok first of all the difference between preserve and jam apparently is that in preserve there are chunks of fruit whereas jam is more smooth with the fruit having been crushed or pureed, and jelly is even more smooth being made from the fruit juice and not the pulp. This one is full of soft spreadable plum chunks so it is a preserve, and not jam but I'm going to  use the terms interchangeably, ok?

Last month I met the talented Patty of Patty's Food at a bloggers meet and we discovered that we lived quite close to each other. She invited me to her beautiful home to cook together,  and I had a blast whipping  up some spicy tomato rice with the cherry tomatoes we bought from the farmers market on the way over,  and Patty showed me how to make this delicious Spiced Plum Jam. I had no idea it would be SO easy to make! ( and eat :O) So Patty, I have you to thank, both for a delightful afternoon, and what I am sure is going to be a lifelong addiction to jamming!


It was all gone too quickly and then I made another large batch of jam and learnt to can or bottle it so that I could take it with me in my suitcase to Ohio to gift to my family I was visiting there, and it was a huge hit with them too. Now that I am back I am buying up all the plums and peaches I can find at my favourite stall for stone fruits at our farmers market- Kashiwase Farms, to make more jam, and  bottle up the last of summer goodness for the chilly months to come ( well, not SO chilly, I do live in California after all!)

jam white

My mom makes a very sweet banana jam popular in banana abundant Kerala, with a surprisingly natural red hue,  which was a favourite of mine growing up. She used to make it to take to my college hostel- my roomies and I  would spread the runny jam on Marie biscuits as a midnight snack! I think I ate too much of it though, because now I've become a lot more  finicky about my jam and do not like it overly sweet, and prefer to let the taste of the fruit shine through. If you love jam then you MUST make yours at home too. It is so easy and it knocks the socks of supermarket jam. Best of all you can make your own flavour combinations to spread on toast ( try it in between your grilled cheese sandwich!) , crackers, spoon over dessert or serve with yogurt or cheese...


The leaves on most trees are tinged red and I know overnight they will be all red or gold and soon begin to fall. So go, hurry and get jamming before all trace of summer is gone along with all the summer fruits! Isn't that a really depressing thought? That these mounds of juicy stone fruits are going to quickly disappear? But you know what, every time I think that September slipping away  is going to throw me into wallowing despair, almost unwillingly I succumb to Fall's seductions. A lone red leaf lying on the pavement, a whiff of cinnamon,  Halloween  costumes and Thanksgiving decorations in store windows (ALREADY! ) My mind wanders towards pumpkin pies and crisp apples  and then of course I am falling for Fall too :)


Just in case I do pine for  a taste of summer, all I have to do is open up one of my many bottles of spiced plum jam!

Recipe for Small Batch Plum Preserve
Recipe adapted from: Epicurious with tips from Patty of Patty's Food
Yield: Makes about 3 half pint bottles of jam, recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

  • 2 pounds plums or pluots ( I used a delicious variety fom Kashiwase Farms called Flavour King) 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cloves or 1 stick cinnamon or other spice of your choice
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional) 
plumjamslices collage

Place a plate or bowl in the freezer ( preferably a steel one)
Coarsely chop the plums after pitting into large chunks ( if you are using organic plums, no need to peel them)
Stir together with the water, sugar and cloves in a large (2 quart or more) pot, saucepan or dutch oven.
Slit and scrape the inside of the vanilla bean and add it along with the bean to the saucepan.
Place on medium heat until it reaches a simmer and then reduce heat to low.
Let it simmer, stirring occasionally so that it does not get stuck to the bottom of the pan, especially towards the end when the jam starts to thicken and reduce (in about an hour)
Pick out the cloves and vanilla bean before bottling.

To check that the jam is done, put a drop of the jam on the cold plate from the freezer.
Tilt the plate and if the drop of jam runs down then that means that the jam needs to cook some more.
Another way to check is to run a spoon through the jam in the pot and it should leave a channel or a trail ( think parting of the red sea!) for a few seconds before getting filled up again.
I don't mind my jam being a little runny, but I make sure that I don't over cook it so that the fruit still tastes bright and  the texture is not too hard or gummy.
If you jam is still too runny, you can use it as a delicious topping for yogurt,  ice cream or other desserts too! So don't worry, get jamming!

You can store your jam in clean and dry containers in the fridge. If you want to keep it longer than a month or so and plan to store it out of the fridge, you should can it, following the guide lines here