5 Best Plums for Jam Making

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Best Plums for Jam Making

Making plum jam is a simple process that almost all home cooks can quickly master. Like any quality dish, though, the secret to creating the best possible plum jam begins with using the finest available ingredients.  

For making jam, that means using the correct type of plum. While any European plum with a freestone can be used, certain varieties lend themselves to making jam better than others. 

To help you get off on the right foot, here are our picks for the five best plums for jam making and the answers to other frequently asked questions about making plum jam.

Best Type Plums to Use for Jam Making 

  • Yellow Plums

yellow plums

Ninety percent of all yellow plums grown end up as either commercially produced jam or brandy. The fact that the people who depend on making quality plum jam for a living use this variety tells you about all you need to know.

Yellow plums (Lemon Plums) are a comparatively smaller, rounder variety that is usually available in late summer and early fall. To make jam, it is best to use lemon plums that are freshly harvested as the fruit loses much of its sweet flavor if it gets overripe.

  • Greengage Plums

greengage plums

Greengage Plums can be deceptive in their appearance. Even when perfectly ripe, they still appear green. Their skins can range from pale yellow-green to bright lime with red specks. Despite their appearance, rest assured that Greengage Plums are not in the least sour. They have a honey sweetness to their flavor and often display subtle citrus notes. 

Most often available in mid-summer onward, Greengage Plums are medium-sized and can be refrigerated for up to a week once ripe, giving you more time to work up your jam. 

  • Mirabelle Plums

mirabelle plums

One of the finest plums available for jams, jellies, or pasties, actual Mirabelle Plums are difficult to find outside France. However, some growers in the U.S. produce Mirabelle type or Cherry Plums descended from European bloodlines. 

Positively syrupy, these plums are small, yellow to orange in color, and more than worth the effort needed to find even Americanized versions of. 

  • Plumcots

Not true plums, but an early plum-apricot hybrid, plumcots nevertheless deserve serious consideration when you are making jam. Lemony yellow in color with reddish-blue shading on the skin, plumcots have pink to deep red flesh. 

A late-season fruit with firm flesh, plucots blend well with mint flavors to create jams with a singular character. 

  • Santa Rosa Plum

Santa Rosa plum jam

One of the most easily found varieties of plums in the United States, the Santa Rosa Plum is nevertheless a sterling choice for making jam. They are thin-skinned and have a fruity, sugary-sweet flesh that balances well against a mild tart flavor in the skin. 

The only clingstone variety to make this list, Santa Rosa Plums, does require a bit of extra effort to pit, but their uniquely balanced flavor makes them worth the extra effort. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Plum Jam

  • How Many Plums Do I Need to Make Jam?

You will need approximately 1.5 pounds of pitted plumes per pint of finished jam. This is only a general guide as plums and recipes can vary widely. 

  • Should Plums Be Peeled for Jam? 

plum jam with skins

You can peel your plums when making jam, but it is not a necessity. The skins will soften during the cooking process, and they add their own unique character to the Jams. Generally speaking, jams made without skins will be sweeter, and jams with skins will have a tart edge behind the sugary flavor.

  • How Do I Peel Plums Before Making Jam or Jelly?

Trying to peel plumes with your fingers or using a knife will usually leave you with sticky fingers and mangled plums. The easiest method for removing the peels from plums is to blanch them. 

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil. Make sure there is room in the pan to submerge your plums without spilling over.
  • Prepare another pan of ice water equal in size.
  • Using a small knife, cut an X through the skin at the bottom of each of your plums; it doesn’t need to be deep.
  • When your water is boiling, add your plums and let them cook for 45-60 seconds.
  • Remove plums and immediately place them in your ice bath. Be sure to submerge your plums completely. 
  • Allow plums to cool in the ice bath for 5 minutes.
  • Drain your plumbs.
  • You should be able to grasp the skin at each point of the X and peel it away like peeling a banana. 
  • How Do You Pit Plums for Jam?

freestone plum

To remove the pits from plums, use a small knife to cut them in half vertically, careful not to penetrate the stone. Twist the fruit while pulling gently. If your plums are freestone, the seed will separate easily, and you can pull the pit out with your fingers. 

If your plums are clingstone like most Japanese varieties, it will take a little more effort to get the halves of your plums to separate, and then you will then need to use a spoon to dig out the pit. 

  • How Long Does Homemade Plum Jam Last?

Plum jam that has been properly vacuum-sealed in sterilized jars should stay good for a year or longer without refrigeration.  

  • Why is My Plum Jam Bitter?

In most cases, if your plum jam comes out bitter, you overcooked it and burnt the sugars. If it just has a slight caramel flavor, it might still be usable in some dessert recipes. But, If it is really burnt and intensely bitter, there is no way to salvage it.