Plum Jam

Here's my latest jam recipe:
Wild Bolinas Golden Plums with Meyer Lemons, Wild-flower honey, and Agave.
First, slice two lemons finely and stew them with 1/3 cup of agave and 1 cup of water, until the slices start to look translucent, about 5 minutes. Into the same pot add about two and a half lbs of plums, whole. You can use any plums, I would guess. I just like to collect them from around the neighborhood for free. With the plums add 4 oz of honey and 3 1/2 cups of agave, along with the juice from one lemon. Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes then put the whole concoction into a glass or ceramic bowl and refrigerate overnight (covered with parchment paper).
Following day, remove the pits; huge pain, but it must be done. Next, bring your jam to a boil (get it up to 220 degrees); skim off any froth. Now, put the jam into jars. For all the preparation of the jars-boiling, baking, sterilizing-just check your grandma's cook books. I'll post the instructions for that another time.
You should get about 6 or 7 half-pint jars of jam.


  1. oh, god bless you for this -- as the owner of a fearsomely gigantic plum tree, every year I try to figure out a better plan than just letting them all rot on the ground...i'm going to bookmark this to return to in july!

  2. I did it! The plums were starting to rain down this weekend, so we picked them yesterday, and today we achieved...Gilman Street Plum Jam! Sadly, the meyer lemon tree won't have any lemons ready for me until next week (pesky, this backyard cooking), so I used one non-meyer lemon and one orange instead. And added a little bit of fresh ginger, just because. I am a total convert....already looking around the neighborhood for more fruit to turn into jam. Thanks again for the recipe!

  3. Hello! First time visitor to your blog, as I just finished making 20 cups of jam from my golden plum tree and was googling for more recipe ideas. Since it looks like you make quite a bit of jam, I wanted to ask you about why you don't use pectin for your recipes. Do you ever issues with your jam setting properly? I am making my jam the same way that my mother and grandmother made it, and they always used pectin. But if I would be happy know if it isn't necessary.

    Thank you! Looking forward to checking out your other recipes!

  4. Hi Teresa, Thanks for the great question about pectin. My husband Paul is the jammer in our family. I'll let him leave more info about this pectin-free jamming idea.
    Take care,

  5. Hello, Teresa. Thanks for your thoughtful questions about making preserves with and without pectin. I am still new to preserves, and do not come from a family that was much interested in the art, so I am learning as I go. As you can tell from Erin's work on Yummy Supper, our family is pretty serious about organic, local food, eaten fresh and in season. For me this means finding ways to make preserves that are as simple and natural as possible; I really want to taste all that delicious peachyness when I open a jar of peach jam in December. I was lucky enough to take a preserves class with June Taylor, who is a well-known Berkeley food preserving master. I recommend checking out her website: She encourages her students to make jam without commercially produced pectin, whenever possible. For projects like marmalades, which do require pectin for a proper set, she recommends people make their own, using citrus seeds and membranes. I have followed her lead whenever I can. I admit that some of my home concoctions have not set as firm as I would like, but most have been great.
    I got into making preserves for the fun of taking piles of beautiful ripe fruit (much of which I forage myself in the area) and making something that my family can enjoy on a whim all year. I love the idea of doing everything myself and not having to go buy commercial additives at the store.
    I hope my answer helps. Have fun!

  6. My goodness! Thank you both for such kind responses to my posting, I am so glad that I checked back. I am in fact a chemist, so my kitchen projects quite often end up being more like experiments. And, I work in Berkeley, so I will certainly check out June's web site. I found myself with an incredible amount of plums this year, and looks like my fig tree will produce quite a bit as well. And I am so so happy to find a recipe for something to use my Meyer lemons for! Last year I just froze the juice. The marmalade sounds fantastic!

    I remember making jam as a little girl with my mom and grandmother. It has been so much fun trying it again as an adult. And giving people homemade jam makes them so happy! I've made 50 cups in the past week. I like the idea of just using the fruit and its natural sugars without the added pectin. Thank you for your help and I look forward to trying some more recipes from your lovely site!

  7. I am about to embark on this recipe, but I am puzzled. You say to SLICE the lemons, and use whole plums, but what about the skins and the slices? Am I going to eventually spread cooked slice of lemon on my toast? Or do you strain the lemons eventually? Thanks!

  8. Hello, Katherine. I'm glad to year you are going to use this recipe for your plums. This is one of my favorites. I do keep the whole lemon slices in the jam and so I do spread them onto my toast. The lemon peels become extremely soft and add just a nice bit of texture and flavor to the final jam. If you are using regular plums from the store, you might consider removing the pits before you start cooking. Because I usually use wild plums, I have dozens going into a single recipe, so pitting them in advance just seems like too much trouble. I must say, getting them out of the jam later is no party either, but that's what I get for using free plums. Have fun and enjoy. -P

  9. When I started thinking about the jam as marmalade, the idea of the lemon rind became clearer. I successfully made the jam — yummy. For the next batch (I have a lot of plums), could I just use agave and plums or agave and any kind of fruit, or is there some magic proportion of plum-lemon-honey that makes the syrup gel?

    My sister just finished chemo for breast cancer, and so we're all being very conscious about what we eat — organic, and sugar in particular. So I'm enthralled to be able to make jelly with agave. Thank you!

  10. Oh, and what does the sitting-overnight accomplish as part of the process?

  11. Hey, Katherine:
    I'm glad your first batch worked out so nicely. I have found making jam to be an adventurous process, but the result is always delicious.
    I can appreciate your desire to keep the preserving process as natural as possible; I always try to limit the amount of sugar and pectin when I can. I have to admit I was amazed when I started making my own jam to see how much sugar usually goes into recipes, even with what I thought of as really sweet fruit, like peaches or cherries. There is not any magic proportion that I know of having to do with the ingredients in this jam. I just thought the agave and honey would be tasty. The lemon is important because it provides acidity and because it does help the jam to set. You will find that many fruit preserve recipes call for lemon juice or the addition of a removable satchel of lemon pith and seeds as a way of getting pectin into the jam. You could make this plum jam with only agave and lemon juice. Try this ratio: 2 1/2 lbs of plums and 2 2/3 cups of agave, plus the juice of one lemon. Pit the plums then bring all the ingredients to a simmer. Cool, cover, and refrigerate over night. Next day cook it all up until you reach the desired set. Check out the post on Bolinas Blackberry Jam for more of a discussion about the set.
    Letting the ingredients sit over night, after bringing everything to a simmer, helps everything come together more slowly and evenly. You can skip the step if you want. Sometimes I am just too impatient myself.
    Have fun. -P


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