Sugar-Free Plum Jam

During autumn on Mapleton Hill, trees and vines sag heavily with fruit. All the plums, apples, and grapes attracts bears, common in these parts. So my neighbor Nancy and I decided to go on a fruit picking expedition. We went to another wonderful neighbor's house on our street, and soon our bags were full of Paige Blackburn's plums. In a short amount of time we managed to pick over 17 pounds.

Using Local Fruit to Make Jam

What to do with all that local fruit? I needed to use a lot of it! So I created this Sugar-Free Plum Jam recipe. In all, I made three different jam recipes. One had a low amount of sugar, the other was very low-sugar, and the final one was the Sugar Free Plum Jam recipe you'll find below. Don't worry though, I'll share a bit about each one with you so that you can make whichever your heart desires.

Picking the Plums

I have to confess, Nancy, a total powerhouse, did most of the heavy lifting, i.e., she picked a lot of the fruit, washed it all, and sliced the majority of the plums. But I did contribute to our labor by turning 17 pounds of that fruit into jam in one evening. I had to keep up with her plum production process and do something with all that precious local fruit

Can You Make a Big Batch of Jam?

I've read that it's not possible to create big batches of jam. Most of the recipes I referred to used around 3 pounds of fruit. Since we had 17 pounds this wasn't really feasible for me unless I wanted to be up all night. So I had to come up with a plan. Here's what to do with mountains of fruit.

How to Make Big Batch Plum Jam

After you remove the pits from the plums, place up to 8 pounds in a tall 12-quart pot with a bit of water, just enough so that you won't scorch the fruit as it heats.  I use one-half cup of water for every batch. If you're going to use any sugar at all, put it on the bottom of the pan with the water, then put the pitted plums in. Heat the mixture to a simmer, then bring to a boil and keep the lid on, other than when you stir the mixture every couple of minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.

Simmering off the Liquid for Plum Jam

Once the plums are well cooked and starting to degrade into more of a watery stew, leave the lid off so the mixture is uncovered. This way, the jam continues to cook while the liquid evaporates. Keep the heat low and stir continuously to keep the jam from scorching on the bottom of the pan. Cook down until you end up with an amazing batch of jam that's not at all watery.

What Ratio of Sugar to Fruit When Making Jam?

A typical jam recipe will contain twice as much fruit as sugar pound for pound. However, I've also seen 1:1 jam recipes, where equal amounts of sugar and fruit are used. I've even seen some that use twice as much sugar as fruit. I haven't tried that but it doesn't seem palatable to me. I can't imagine making something that sweet because it would be nearly impossible to taste the fruit. And the best part of jam, in addition to the fruity flavor, is the tart taste. My three batches of jam consisted of the following ratios of fruit to sugar, by weight:

  • 1 pound sugar : 5 pounds fruit
  • 1 pound sugar : 8 pounds fruit
  • 0 pounds sugar : 4 pounds fruit

What is Jam?

Jam is fruit that is preserved and stored in a glass jar. For me, jam is cooked fruit that has a concentrated flavor. You're basically heating the fruit to break it down, then concentrating the flavors by condensing it and eliminating its liquid. That leaves you with the fruit's fiber, which comprises the body of the jam, and sugar, i.e., the carbohydrates that fruit are mostly made of.

What's the Difference Between Jam and Jelly

If you're wondering what the difference is between jam and jelly it's quite simple. Jam is the entire fruit including its pulp, crushed and cooked then stored. Jelly is preserved fruit juice.

Sugar-Free Jam Recipe

My Sugar Free Plum Jam recipe was delicious. I've been eating it on top of Keto Bread with ghee. It also makes a fabulous peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my Paleo Bread. I did notice that in the batches of jam that I made with sugar the plum skins totally degraded, but in the batch of Sugar-Free Jam, the skins were a bit more intact. I think the sucrose in the organic cane sugar I used dissolved the plum skins.

Sugar-Free Jam Recipe without Stevia

If you don't like stevia, feel free to leave it out. This Sugar-Free Plum Jam recipe will work just fine without it.

Sugar-Free Plum Jam

Ingredients
Serves:
4cups
Print Recipe
Instructions
  1. Wash and dry plums, then slice in half, removing pits
  2. Place water and plums in large pot, cover and bring to a simmer, stir occassionally
  3. Once mixture turns liquidy, remove lid
  4. Simmer and stir frequently until desired thickness, 30-90 minutes
  5. Stir in lemon juice and stevia
  6. Cool, then transfer to clean one-cup quilted mason jar or one-cup wide mason jar
  7. Store in fridge for up to 10 days
I made the plum jam... It came out great, and I love the intense plum flavor.

Canning the Jam

If you wish to can the jam feel free, though I did not do that with this recipe. The jam will keep for up to 10 days if you use a clean mason jar that is either straight from the dishwasher or washed by hand with hot soapy water, then thoroughly dried. The lemon juice in this recipe provides additional acid which helps keep this jam fresh when stored in the refrigerator.

Storing the Jam

This jam will freeze very well. Just be sure that you do not fill the jar all the way up since it will expand when frozen. Leave at least at least an inch of empty space at the top of the jar. I would guess that this would keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Low-Sugar Plum Jam Recipe

The other two batches of low-sugar plum jam were good also. They're not something I would eat, but tasted fine when I dipped a spoon in to check that their flavor was on point. Next time I'm going to make jam with Paige and I plan on testing out a batch that is a 1 to 10 ratio of sugar to fruit. I thought the 1 to 8 was still a bit too sweet, but the neighbors and friends I gave it to loved it.

Pectin-Free Plum Jam Recipe

All of the jam we made was pectin-free. What is pectin? It is a natural fiber found in plant's cellular walls, and most concentrated in the skin. Since plums make a nice gelatinous jam on their own I did not find this ingredient necessary.

Your Favorite Homemade Jam Recipe

There is a long history of homemade jam making. What's your favorite recipe? Does your family have a tradition of making jam? Let's get jammin' in the comments!

Comments

43 responses to “Sugar-Free Plum Jam”

  1. I love plums, pluots, apriums and peacotums! When I make jam it’s very similar to yours, but I use a small amount of honey. I’ve also found that chia seeds can make a great thickener if needed.
    Ihave a local organic grower who has given me many pounds of soft ones of different varieties. I use the best fruit for jams and sauces; but with all of the very soft parts, stems, pits, or whole fruit that’s very overripe (but not moldy), I make very delicious vinegar from them. So easy and father time does all of the work!

  2. Hi. I’m working on giving up sugar to help with my arthritis, which isn’t easy with my decades old sweet tooth. I made the plum jam from 3 lb of organic fruit and did not add sugar or stevia, just a bit of lemon juice. It came out great, and I love the intense plum flavor on a cracker. Thanks.

    • Micky, sugar is such a pro-inflammatory food, good for you in giving it up! So glad to hear this jam came out great :-)

  3. Just a quick note about storage. Jams without sugar can be stored for longer canned but they loose their vibrant color and turn into a brown unappetizing mess. I prefer to make a small batch for immediate consumption.

  4. I enjoy making blackberry jam when our plants produce enough blackberries. It isn’t sugar free, but uses grated organic apple as the natural pectin, honey and lemon juice. It probably has half the sugar that would be found in a traditional jam recipe. It is simple to make (except if you decide to remove the seeds without proper equipment, which I did this year for my youngest daughter’s sake) and my family really enjoys it. I don’t usually have it because I try to keep my sugar consumption low. There is something satisfying about making jam from the fruit you have grown in your backyard.

    • Christine, thanks for your awesome comment! What a great project, we have blackberries growing wild in our back yard and I’m going to check them out for jam making :-)

  5. Elana, I adore plum jam though it’s hard to find recipes for it these days. Thank you for sharing yours! My mother, my sister and I used to make jam together when I was a teen. Out neighbors had lots of fruit trees and five daughters but didn’t know how to make jam. The two moms made a deal: their fruit and the girls came to our house and we all made the jam together. What fun! My favorite use of the plums, though, will always be in a batch of mixed fruit jam. One part plums, one part apricots and one part sweet cherries. Absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for your wonderful blog posts. ❤

    • Robin, what a wonderful story about the two families, the fruit, and jam making! Next year I’m going to make a batch of mixed fruit jam with plums, apricots, and cherries –it sounds delicious :-)

  6. I have made apricot jam without pectin, and small amount of sugar, then canned the jam using the open kettle method. Can the open kettle method work for sugarless plum jam?

  7. Elana—I too LOVED Seana Ames’ story from above—was drawn in right from the beginning. I have been ‘lurking’ your website and making yummy recipes—thank you! (Just two days ago made the pumpkin pie with the keto pie crust—the family yammed it up!)
    My Memphis grandmother used to make Muscadine jelly and some of the not fully smushed Muscadine grapes would remain somewhat intact and would sort of burst in your mouth. Yummm! I’ve never had that kind of jelly again and have only once seen those kinds of grapes in a specialty grocery store, though my grandmother harvested them from her backyard. I’m very much looking forward to making a jam with your stevia-sweetened version above with whatever fruits appeal when I go shopping. I’m hoping I can substitute my store-bought jellies/jam with your homemade version and that my middle-schooler who loves her pb & j lunches will be won over. Cheers and thanks again!

    • Eve, thanks for your wonderful comment and for sharing your family’s story here. I hope you’ll stay in touch and let me know how your homemade jam turns out and if your middle-schooler loves it :-)

  8. My great grandmother, used to make something she called Halycon Jam. My mom passed away in 2013 but I remember running across a post on a message board like Yahoo or something so, I proceeded to search, but nothing came up, so I added the ingredients I could remember. “Halycon Jam, pears, maraschino cherries” and several recipes for Harlequin Jam came up.
    As it turns out my great-grandmother had been calling it the wrong name her whole life. She had taught her daughter who taught her daughter and so on, down 4-5 generations to my daughter, to call this Halycon instead of Harlequin. For all I know, her mom may have called it that as well.
    This same woman called perennial plants pre-annuals. She was quite well read. She married in an arranged marriage at 17yo. She didn’t sleep with her husband for more than a year and he went along with it. It wasn’t untila long night of helping him with lambing that she was comfortable enough to consummate their marriage.
    Grest Grandpa had polio as a child. As a consequence, his hand and arm were deformed. Despite that handicap, he drove a team of draft horses that he used to keep the roads clear of snow and owned and maintained a huge sheep farm.
    Today, I made a batch of sugar free Halycon Jam. Tomorrow will be the true test.

    • Seana, wow what an amazing story you have shared on so many levels. First, you are an incredible writer! Second, I loved hearing about your family’s history. Third, I adore the story of how your family called their jam Halycon, in some ways you are describing how language evolves when it is passed on from generation to generation. Do you write short stories? If so I would love to know where I could find them. I hope you’ll let me know how the jam turned out :-)

  9. My family grew figs, so we always made Fig jelly. When I took the recipe over, I added just short of equal parts of LEMON with the figs. (Fig & lemon jelly, though we never called it that.)We did officially use equal parts figs and sugar, (although I now would cut the sugar way back), with 1 lemon.

    We would put it all in a pot and cook until it thickened. Allow to cool and put in jars.

    • Mary, this sounds like the perfect way to use up a huge batch of figs! Thanks for sharing your family’s recipe :-)

  10. Hey! Your recipe looks great! We make ours in the oven in a huge roasting pan. I made I think about 10kg of plums in one pan this year. My grandmother doesn’t use sugar (because it’s pesticide free organic stuff from her backyard in Croatia) but here I put a wee bit of sugar in about half way through. I did 3 cups for that amount of plums. You bring it to a boil at 350 and then reduce to 200f and then let it slow cook for, what feels like eons. But it’s all night and almost half the next day. I cooked it 16 hours- for less plums definitely less than that. Stirring while I was awake. It’s incredibly yummy. Happy fall!

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