For the Love of Small Batch Canning (Recipe: Spiced Plum Jam)

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

Plum jam tastes like childhood to me. When I was very young, my family lived in a house with three Santa Rosa plum trees scattered around the yard and every other year, we spent three weeks wading through a sea of plums.

We’d eat them until we couldn’t bear to look at another and then my mom would make enough jam to last until the trees ripened again.

All photos by Marisa

These days, I don’t live surrounded by plum trees but that doesn’t stop me from making a yearly batch of plum jam. I cook it up just the way my mom did, with cinnamon and nutmeg. The result is a sweet and tart spread that tastes just slightly of Christmas.

This summer, I’ve become enamored of making smaller batches of jam. When you reduce the volume of jam you make, you also get to cut down on both the preparation and cooking time.

It also means that you can make a wider variety of flavors because you haven’t filled your pantry with a dozen jars of the same thing.

Spiced Plum Jam

4 from 1 vote
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Course: Condiments
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 3 half-pint jars
Calories: 664kcal
Author: Marisa


  • 1 quart red plums about four pounds
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


  • Prepare three half pint jars and a small canning pot. Put lids in a small pan of water and bring to a bare simmer.
  • Wash, pit and chop the plums. The yield from the quart should be approximately four cups chopped fruit.
  • Combine chopped fruit and sugar in a large, non-reactive pan. Stir until the fruit begins to release its juice. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
  • Boil the jam over high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure that it does not burn. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. When jam begins to thicken, use the cold plate test to check for set.
  • When the jam appears to have reached set, remove the pot from the heat. Ladle into prepared jars.
  • Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
  • Remove jars from canner and allow to cool 24 hours on the counter.


Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 170g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 495mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 164g | Vitamin A: 1090IU | Vitamin C: 29.9mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.6mg


What is your favorite stone fruit jam?

About Marisa

Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated small batch canner who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first book, titled Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.

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  1. How cool, the jams that can be made without pectin are my faves!

  2. I love Plum Jam and my kids love it too! we will make it today thanks to you 🙂

  3. I LOVE this! Thank you!! I’ve always been a gardener but just this year started rolling up my sleeves and getting into canning. I’ve only begun to master tomatoes (pasta sauce, pizza sauce) but I have LOADS of fruit that I would love to can.. from peaches and pears to 3 HUGE grape vines that are just bursting with clusters of grapes. I may have to plant a plum tree now!! I, too, appreciate a recipe that does not involve pectin.

  4. Steve @ HPD says

    never thought about making small batch. looks like a great way for a rookie like me to start. thanks!

  5. I’ve overlooked plums for jam but it is one of my very favorites and my little plum tree produces, well, just a little bit of fruit. Perfect for a small batch!

  6. You peel the plums too, right?

  7. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    I just love plum jam. It’s my nephew’s favorite too. His grandma makes him enough to last the school year, because he prefers PB&J with plum instead of grape or strawberry.

  8. Melissa @ Baking For The Boys says

    Coincidentally, spiced plum jam is not only my favorite stone fruit jam but it is my all time favorite jam ever! I too make enough to hold us until next season. And you are right, it does taste very much like Christmas.

  9. I love spiced plum jam! I also throw in a bit of cardamom and ginger when I make mine. I agree that it does taste like Christmas. 😉

  10. I love the idea of making my own jam. I am hoping to make my first batch ever (of any size) this week. Thanks for this simple recipe!

  11. Just made a vanilla sweet plum jam a lot like this one last week. The plums I was lucky enough to lay my hands on looked a lot like yours. Sooo good. I can’t wait to eat that jam in January!!

  12. YUMMY! i love this!

  13. Sour cherry jam is my absolute favorite stone fruit preserve. In fact, I might have to eat some for dinner tonight after reading this.

  14. delcarmen66 says

    I will truly follow this site. I love pickling vegetables. and love cooking so much. thanks for your recipe.

  15. i have plums in my refrigerator. Can I make this if I’ve never canned before? Is a canning pot just a pot of boiling water big enough to fit the cans in? It sounds really good.

    • You can absolutely make this if you’ve never canned before. A canning pot is just a pot of water large enough to submerge the jars by at least an inch and still have some space for the water to boil. You also want to put a small rack or dish towel in the bottom of your pot to protect the jars from being in direct contact with the heat of your burner. Here’s a post on the basics of canning, to get you started.

      • thanks! I’m going for it!

        • Beth shaffer says

          I started canning about 2 summers ago and now I do pretty much everything. One thing that has helped me a ton is my Ball Blue Book of Preserving. It was only $15 in my small town but I bet it could be found online for less! I had to teach myself with this book and after the first batch of jelly I thought why did I wait until now to start it is sooooo easy!

  16. Thanks Marisa for sharing this delicious recipe. I can’t believe it is easy to make a Spiced Plum Jam . I will surely make this on Saturday.

  17. Just made this – so delicious! I used black plums, because they were organic and on sale (yay!)…somehow I came out with enough to fill four half pint jars and a quart jar. And it jelled. Mind you, I’m not complaining in the least. I thought I’s have to choose between jam and pie, which would have been very sad 😉

  18. I made this recipe last night. While the result is delicious, I see now that the fruit weight-to-volume conversion in this recipe is not right (I think). Not being too familiar with plums and being in a great hurry, I cooked up the jam using the weight of plums listed in the recipe–4 pounds. However, I see now that a pound of plums is actually about 2 cups chopped. So 4c chopped = one quart of fruit = 2 pounds of plums.

    I’m not sure if Marisa gets notifications of comments from this post, but I’m guessing she meant 2 lbs. plums, which would yield 3-4 half-pints.

    • Hi Joyce! The plums I used actually did require 4 pounds of fruit to make up four chopped cups. They were very juicy and so were quite heavy for their size. However, a less juicy plum could easily weigh less and still make up the same chopped volume.

      • Oh, thanks so much for the clarification, Marisa. I’ll have to keep that kind discrepancy in mind the next time I work with these particular plums. However it all measured out, the result was still delicious. 🙂

  19. Jana Parkhill says

    I just made this yesterday. Thank you so much it turned out perfect. A definite keeper. I followed your direction to the letter. Although my plums were a slightly different type it is just delish. I am quite happy with the resulting taste.

  20. Have you ever used italian plums?

  21. Would white plums taste good? My mom sent me home with a whole box from her tree….

  22. I am enjoying some of this amazing jam right now! I used Italian plums from my backyard tree. I’d been wondering all summer what to do with the fruit, and sadly, threw much of it away. Genius idea to make not just plum jam, but SPICE plum jam. I have canned three pints and two half pints to give away. Super easy (except all the pitting and slicing) and I ran half the mixture through my food processor to expidite cooking it down and smoother texture. LOVE it!

  23. Kelly George says

    I have to say this is my most favorite plum jam recipe, On my second batch I added some frozen cranberry’s I had in the freezer since last holiday season, yuml I am going to put this on the pork loin I have for dinner tomorrow night,

  24. This recipe looks lovely, but I am not sure at all on what cups are in weight. Sorry – I am from the UK and it is not a measurement we really use (we do have cups in our house but they are different sizes!) I looked on wikipedia to see if there was a set definition for a measurement but it seems to vary unfortunately. Do you have a measurement in ounces or grams for the sugar? Thanks

    • Ann, I don’t have those measurements at hand. However, I can tell you that there are two parts fruit and one part sugar in this recipe. So, it’s a little less than 2kg of fruit. Once they’re pitted and chopped, measure the fruit and use half as much sugar.

  25. My plums are bubbling away as I type!! This will be my very first batch of real no kidding cooked jam, and I am beyond excited! I added a bit of orange zest just for fun… Fingers crossed! 🙂

  26. Hi marisa, I know I’m a little late on reading your post, but how long does this jam typically keep in the cupboard? Also, does the omission of pectin shorten the life of the jam? I don’t know much about the science of canning but I am really looking forward to making this recipe!!

    • Sealed jars of jam are at their best the first year of being canned, but can still be quite good for at least 2-3 years after they were made. Higher sugar preserves keep their quality longer than lower sugar ones. Pectin does not play a role in shelf life, all it does is aid set.

  27. Just came from my local Asian market where Italian plums were on sale – I plan to make this as a relax me recipe after a very hectic week as a nurse in a busy high school health room! Thanks and will update – love all thew feedback from everyone! Jennifer

  28. Just came from my local Asian market where Italian plums were on sale – I plan to make this as a relax me recipe after a very hectic week as a nurse in a busy high school health room! Thanks and will update – love all the feedback from everyone! Jennifer

  29. Can you make this recipe with honey instead of sugar?

  30. 4 stars
    Plum jam is my absolute fave. I leave out the spices and add 1/2 cup of brandy or 1/2 cup of port about 5 minutes before I put the jam into the hot jars. I might add a tablespoon or two of vanilla extract – I eye ball it. If it’s not tart enough, I’ll add some lime juice to taste.

    The port is a nice flavor add to the jam.

    What I like about Marissa’s recipe is that it doesn’t require any peeling. It adds some fiber. Yeah, yeah, that’s why. I just like the texture of the jam. As it’s cooked down nicely, it spreads beautifully onto toast. My husband adds it to yogurt in the morning.