Plum Preserves

I’ve had a red plum tree in my yard since I moved in over 25 years ago but lately it’s been giving less and less fruit. I almost cut it down and planted a new one sensing the end was near for my good Ol’ tree. But this last fall and winter we got so much that low and behold that old tree gave me a surprise this Spring. PLUMS! Tons of’m. It was almost as if that tree was telling me “Don’t you give up on me!” I wanted to do something to make the fruit last, something I’ve never done so I made and canned plum preserves and Chinese Plum sauce. My grandma was born in 1900. I grew up watching her can green tomatoes and okra from her garden. She’d make jams and jellies and she stored them in her cellar. So here’s to my grandma and my dear old plum tree.

The fruit ripened so fast once it got hot. I had to gather all the plums before the birdies got them. I think I had about 25, maybe 30 pounds of plums.

I washed them and removed the pits which took hours and my fingers were wrinkled and sore. I put them in a big pot and added sugar to taste.

I left them overnight so the sugar and plum mixture could exude all the plum juice. Then I heated them to a gentle boil for about 1/2 hour. I used a recipe that calls for nothing but fresh pitted plums and sugar. No pectin.

You have to skim the foam and stir constantly so the plum and sugar mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom and start burning. Then you let it cool down and then bring it to a boil again. Do this for 2 to 4 times.

After the first 2 boils you really need to watch and stir your pot constantly as the further along you get, the easier it is to burn your pot. Finally you need to sterilize your jars and get to canning!

I also made some Chinese plum sauce at my brothers urging. What do you use plum sauce for you ask? Welllllllll, you can use it as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, or with duck or really anything you like!

My measurements for sugar in this recipe are just a suggestion as it really depends on the sweetness of your fruit. My first batch of plums a picked were a bit tart and some really sweet. I left the rest on the tree to ripened so my second batch needed less sugar. So taste and decide for yourself.

But look at my bounty!

Your looking at 22 pints of preserves and 2 quarts of plum sauce, plus I made some plum grappa while I was at it. There’s some lemon grass and chamomile grappa in there from my garden as well.

These preserves taste so, so good! Thank you old plum tree!



25 lbs sweet ripe plums rinsed

9 cups white sugar

16 pint-sized jars with lids.


Place pitted and halved plums in to the mixing bowl & drizzle with 4 1/2 cups of sugar.

Stir plums until all coated with sugar.

Let them sit for 1 hour than transfer the mixture in to a large cooking pot.

Bring it to a boil uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Boil until mixture is bubbling uniformly.

Simmer for 10 minutes than turn off the heat. Cool to room temperature.

Repeat step 2 a total of FOUR times.

Last time bringing it to a boil at the lower temperature, stir frequently to prevent scorching.

To Sterilize Your Jars:

Start by washing your jars and lids with warm water and soap then let them dry in the oven at 215 degrees for about 20 min or until completely dry.

Boil the lids 5 min.

Filling and processing your jam:

Transfer your boiling hot jam to the jars using a glass measuring cup and a funnel (least messy method) leaving about 1/2″ space.

Screw the lids on enough to keep a tight seal in place but don’t over-tighten them since air bubbles need to be able to escape and place in the oven at 350˚F for 15 min.

Carefully remove from oven, flip upside down and let cool to room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Current safety standards say that it’s best to put the jars in a boiling water bath with 1-2” water covering the lid (instead of the baking method) for ten minutes after tightening the lids to preserve shelf life and kill any potential bacteria.



2 pounds plums, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/4 cup soy sauce


1. Prepare: Combine the plums, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and star anise in a large nonreactive pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Fish out the star anise and discard. Purée the sauce with a stick blender.

2. Refrigerate: Ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

3. Can: Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.


  1. Looks great. I’m sure that grappa is going to be so nice when it’s done. I love preserving fruits. It’s nice to be able to enjoy them throughout the year. Thanks for sharing.😊

  2. This looks AMAZING! I made a small batch of strawberry jam using a similar method but my instant pot. SO HAPPY you’re posting more frequently. Your Porchetta recipe reminds me of being a kid growing up on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. That was a staple of every 4th of July & Christmas!

  3. Kewl!
    I’ve got some suggestions:
    1. ‘Dag’s Grappa’. Go into the alcohol biz a la George Clooney, Adam Carolla, & Sammy Hagar.
    2. Call up your local Starbucks in the morning. Have ’em save their coffee grounds. Swin
    g by in the afternoon and you’ll get loads and loads and loads of clear trash bags FULL of coffee grounds Load ’em into the back of your car & dump ’em on your plants. Holy crap does it make ’em grow! Sure, u can pick up fertilizer from Home Depot/wherever, but this IS a ‘hands-on’ blog, so it’d be completely in character.
    I only read 2 blogs. This is one of ’em. Thx for taking the time to write & share & film & take pics! I really like seeing how these things are really done!

  4. Dear Mr. Grier,
    Please , please, please write a cookbook with stories of your mother and grandmothers cooking lessons passed down to you. I will personally guarantee 50 books sold , just to me alone , to share with special family and friends who love to cook.

    A fan of your skills in multi arenas.


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