Let's make canning your jam with this easy wild plum preserve recipe

Jun 15, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Image: Michael Möller / EyeEm/Getty Images

Canning is my jam. Corny, I know, but totally true. I love how canning can be so methodical, so therapeutic and so satisfying. I wanted to share a special recipe with you all, and I hope you love it as much as I do. It is very similar to the recipes many of your grandmothers canned in yesteryear for good reason. This recipe is a simple, easy recipe for brand-new canning beginners.

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My grandmother's wild plum jam is simple, delicious and not too sweet. It's one that I have loved eating on toast at her place all my life. From what I have read, wild plums can be found in a wide variety of places around the world. I have found that once you reveal that you are a canner (or want to be!) people are very willing to share produce for free or cheap, so I'd ask friends and neighbors before paying high prices in a market.

The recipe will work with regular plums, but the tart plums that grow wild are more of an amber color and have a different flavor. Store-bought plums are sweet — and not much else. Wild plums are sweet, tart, sunny and more. Seek out wild ones first and then resort to the grocery-store variety. This recipe yields about 4 measuring cups of jam, but bear in mind that wild fruit has a lot of variation and your recipe may yield a quantity greater or less than this — and that is OK.

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Wild Plum Jam


  • 5 cups sugar
  • 5 cups pitted wild plums (you can rough chop or run through a food mill first if you desire a smoother spread)
  • 1 cup water


  1. Boil all ingredients together for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Follow safe water bath canning practice outlined in any good canning book or on the USDA site. This site is kind of like the Bible; it is the final word on canning safety, but it is sometimes hard to read, lengthy and dated.
  3. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars one at a time. Leave 1/2-inch headspace (the distance between the hot food and the top edge of the canning jar). Put on lids and rings, and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remember to adjust for changes in elevation: Add five minutes to the total processing time for every 1000 feet you live above sea level. Remove jars carefully from the water bath when the time is up and place on a towel-covered countertop.
  4. Listen closely for the lids to seal (they will make a satisfying "ping" noise) in a few minutes or up to 12 hours later. Leave the jars undisturbed on the countertop for up to 24 hours before you label and store in a cool, dark space.

How to can:


  • One large pot and rack
  • One preserving pan in which to cook the jam
  • One small saucepan or pot
  • One jar lifter and funnel
  • Jars, brand-new lids and matching-sized rings


  1. Prepare your water bath canning pot. This should be a large pot, at least three inches taller than your tallest canning jar. Use a wire canning rack or a silicone trivet in the bottom of the pot. I like wide-mouth half pints for jam, but use whatever canning jars you have on hand. Just check the rims of the jars first for cracks or chips. Fill the pot and jars with hot tap water. Be sure the water covers the tops of the jars by about three inches and bring to a boil on high.
  2. Fill a saucepan or small pot with hot water and coordinating brand-new canning lids and matching-sized rings and bring to a simmer. Brand-new lids are a must because used lids will not seal.
  3. Prepare the following jam recipe in a preserving pan as the above pots come to a boil and continue following the canning steps.

Additional facts about the jam

  • You don't have to can this recipe. You can ladle the hot jam into sterilized (boiled) jars and put canning lids on them and store in the refrigerator.
  • The jars may seal if you just put the hot jam into the hot jars. That does not mean the jam is shelf-stable; it just means it won't leak out if you tip it over, at best. Processing the jam jar in a water bath for 15 minutes means the jam is shelf-stable up to a year. No water bath processing means it is fridge-stable for a month.
  • In fact, if you are storing this in the fridge, you can cut back on the sugar, and the only effect will be the thickness of the jam. Play around with this and embrace the idea that wild produce will produce different preserves from place to place and from batch to batch.

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If you are looking for more beginner-friendly canning resources, head to my site, www.thedomesticwildflower.com, to learn more!