Plum Jam

The ‘Lady from Armagh’ had her own plums on the stall in St George’s, and I got two decent-sized cartons for £3. I couldn’t leave them there at that price, so I decided to make some Plum Jam. £3 for the fruit and whatever half a bag of sugar costs got me 4 jars for keeping, and for giving away..


These are Victoria Plums, but you can use any variety.


  • A large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Wooden spoon – long-handled, if possible – I have my Mother-in-Law’s..  :)
  • Jam jars and lids (sterilised)
  • Jam funnel (optional, but really useful – you’ll only need one of these in your lifetime!)
  • small plates or saucers
  • If you have a splatter-guard, it’s very useful for jam making.
  • Oven gloves


  • Plums, any variety. Washed, cut in half, and stone removed, then weighed.
  • Sugar – you’ll need half as much sugar as fruit. I use Whitworth’s Preserving Sugar. The only difference between it and regular granulated sugar seems to be that the grains are larger. There is another kind of jam-making jam, which has Pectin in it – you don’t need this, as plums have plenty of natural Pectin.
  •  juice of half a lemon
  • a knob or two of butter
  • 100mls water


  • Put the saucers into the fridge.
  • Make sure that the jam jars, lids and funnel are sterilised. Keep them warm in an oven heated to 100 degrees (see NOTES)
  • Wash, de-stone, then weigh your plums.(remember the weight) Mine weighed 1.2 kg today


  • Put them into the saucepan, add the water and lemon juice and bring to the boil


  • Reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring regularly, until the plums are tender (this took me about 10 minutes today)
  • Add the sugar (I used 600g, so half the amount of sugar to fruit – keep that as a general rule) and stir constantly at a medium temperature with the wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved.


  • You’ll know that the sugar has dissolved if you check the back of the spoon – there will be no sugar granules left.
  • Bring the heat up full, and boil for about 10 minutes (use the splatter-guard if you have one) until the jam mixture starts to reduce down. Keep stirring regularly.  *PUT ON AN OVEN GLOVE AT THIS STAGE AS THE MIXTURE IS SERIOUSLY HOT*
  • Drop the butter in to reduce frothing.


  • Keep stirring until the jam starts to ‘jam’ – this can take quite a time – with this plum jam, I’d say it took about 20 minutes. I don’t have a sugar thermometer, so I had to rely on the ‘wrinkle test’ –

Here’s the WRINKLE TEST:

  • Remove the jam from the heat.
  • Drop a little jam onto the cold saucer, and wait for it to cool.
  • If it forms a skin, and wrinkles slightly when you push it with the tip of your finger, then it’s done.
  • If it doesn’t return it to the heat and test every 5-10 minutes until you’re satisfied.

It doesn’t look particularly ‘wrinkly’ here, so I gave it another 10 minutes

  • Remove the jam from the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to cool a little.
  • Arrange your jars on a tray (they’ll be hot from the oven)
  • Using a large serving spoon or a ladle, spoon the jam into the jars until they are filled about 1cm from the top. (This is where the jam funnel comes in very handy, especially if you’re messy, like me)


  • Wipe with a damp cloth if there are any spills, then cover immediately.


  • Label, with the name of the jam, and today’s date.
  • Cool and store in a dark cupboard until you want to use them.


  • Preparing your jars – I tend to put mine through the dish-washer, then keep them warm in the oven at 100 degrees, until minutes before I’m ready to use them. Of course, you can always boil them too – just submerge them in cold water, bring to the boil and boil gently for about 5 minutes. The either keep them covered in the water, or move them to the oven.
  • You need to be so careful when making jam – the boiling sugar would give you an awful burn. That’s why the high-sided pot and oven gloves are so useful. I’d also recommend that you have a child-free kitchen when making jam. It actually takes more than a little concentration to make jam, and distractions are a menace!
  • In recent years I’ve started adding a little Cinnamon (about a teaspoonful) and a couple of Star Anise to this jam while it’s cooking. I think it improves it.. :)

I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

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