by Texas Homesteader ~
There are several wild plum trees in our pastures. This Wild Plum Jelly recipe is easy and requires no added pectin. Optional water-bath canning instructions are included too.
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I enjoy harvesting the plums to make our favorite wild plum jelly. Is there any more beautiful crimson color than what’s displayed from a jar of homemade plum jelly?
What Wild Plum Trees Grow In Texas?
According to Texas A&M & the Lady Bird Wildflower Center there are several different wild plum trees that grow in Northeast Texas.
Oklahoma Plum – 1.5 to 6-ft tall thicket-forming shrub tree, fruit ripens June through August.
Flatwoods Plum – Small sometimes thicket-forming shrub tree, fruit ripens July through August.
Mexican Plum – 15-35 ft tall single-trunk tree, fruit ripens July through September. (This is one of the varieties I believe we have here on the Homestead)
Creek Plum – 6 ft tall thicket-forming shrub tree, fruit ripens July through September.
Chickasaw Plum – 15-30 ft tall thicket-forming tree, fruit ripens August through September.
Munson Plum – Fruits ripen in summer is the only fruiting note I see.
There is a list on the Lady Bird Wildflower Center that notes additional wild plum trees in other areas of Texas if you’d like to check it out.
NOTE: The pits inside the plums are not edible. This warning was noted on the Lady Bird Wildflower Center wild plum pages regarding the plum pit:
Warning: The seeds of all Prunus species, found inside the fruits, contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant’s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Wild Plum Trees Growing On Our NE Texas Homestead
We have two kinds – one is a thicket type plum and ripens in June. The other is a single-trunk wild plum tree that ripens in late August/early September – I believe it’s a Mexican Plum Tree?
Those later-ripening fruits are the wild plums I like to use for my wild plum jelly. They’re slightly larger (although still tiny) and sweeter than plums from my June-ripening thicket-type wild plum trees.
So around the 2nd week of August I begin monitoring the plums so I know when they’re ready to harvest. Then I’ll go to the trees several times a week and harvest until I get enough to make a batch of jelly.
Important Note: I harvest the very ripe plums for the sweetness as well as a few of the plums that aren’t ‘quite there‘ for a higher natural pectin content. This mixture gives my jelly a delicious flavor. Plus I’ve read adding a few less ripe plums offers up a little more natural pectin for a thicker jelly too.
I don’t know if adding some under-ripe plums to the mix is an old wives tale or not. But I’ve never had to add commercial pectin to my wild plum jelly.
How Large Are Wild Plums?
Wild plums are tiny – only about the size of a quarter or sometimes smaller. So to harvest enough to make wild plum jam I take my harvest basket to the trees and harvest as many as I can and bring them home. I’ll repeat this for about a week or until I get as many plums as I want to make my wild-plum jelly.
But when it’s time to prepare the fruit for jelly I don’t want to cut & pit all those tiny fruits. That would take forever! Thankfully I won’t have to.
Now let me tell ya this is the
lazy girl’s efficient time manager’s way to make jelly. It’s a jam I make every year that I possibly can.
Lazy-Cook’s Method – Love it!
Since I don’t know in any given year how many plums my tree will offer up I can’t pre-determine how much pulp/juice I’ll need for my jelly. No worries, this recipe is adjustable based on the amount of juice you get.
When it’s time to make the jam I bring out the plums I’ve harvested and wash them in a colander. Then I put them in a stockpot with just enough water to cover them and bring it to a low & slow simmer.
How much water you need to add to the pot depends on how many plums you have and the size of your pot. But I’m just wanting to keep the plums from burning while they soften and release their own juice.
As the plums are slowly simmering I’ll take a potato masher and mash the softened fruit. This separates the pulp from the pits & skins right there in the stock pot. It’s ready when the fruit is all soft and I’ve been able to mash it into a pulp.
Then I need to strain the pits, skins and pulp from the juice. I’ll use cheesecloth-lined colander set on top of another pan. I just plop the whole soft-plum-mash in.
Then I place the whole shebangie in the fridge overnight. All the juice will drain out during that time.
Then in the morning I pull the colander from the fridge and toss the drained pulp/pits into my *tumbling composter.
There the leftovers from my wild plum jelly will add with the other materials I’m always adding to make Easy Compost – that black gold for a healthy garden!
Measuring the Juice
Now I turn my attention back to my homemade jelly. After removing the solids I’m left with that lovely juice.
Just for you, I weighed the plums beforehand so you’d have an idea. Yes, I know – thoughtful! LOL.
After harvesting & cooking down just under 3 pounds of plums I ended up with just under 4 cups of juice .
Cooking The Jelly
I add about 3/4 cup granulated sugar for each cup of juice and add it all into a deep pan. That simmering sugary juice will rise as it’s bubbling, so be sure to use an oversized pot so you don’t end up with a mess. #askmehowiknow.
On medium-high heat I bring the juice to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the juice reaches 220 degrees. (about 15-20 minutes)
NOTE: The jars below will go into the refrigerator for RancherMan’s enjoyment. So I simply divided my available jam into jars, leaving quite a large head space. But if you’re canning the jelly the Ball Canning Guide recommends leaving only 1/4″ head space.
Boom! Now my jelly is ready. That 4 cups of juice made 5 half-pints of delicious wild plum jelly!
Why Didn’t My Jelly Set?
We’ve all been there. You thought you did everything right but… Your jelly just didn’t set. Don’t worry, it happens to most of us at one time or the other.
If you’re looking for possible reasons, solutions or what to do with unset jelly I urge you to read Why Didn’t My Jelly Set.
In that post I list solutions to try to remake the jelly and suggestions on how to use thin jelly too.
Water Bath Canning Wild Plum Jelly
If I decide to can it I’ll make sure my jars are sanitized and seal them in a water-bath canner for 5 minutes. Done and DONE!
It’s always best for a safer product to follow proper head space requirements. So for water-bath canning this jam, fill jars with 1/4″ head space prior to canning.
THIS is the proper head space for canning this jelly in the photo below:
There ya go, my own homemade jelly made with the wild plums growing on our property.
It’s always a very strong feeling of satisfaction when this property we love provides me with something this delicious, and these crimson jars of deliciousness make great gifts. Heck EVERYONE loves wild plum jelly!
Why yes, of COURSE I’ll share the recipe I use:
Did you make this Wild Plum Jelly? Please rate the recipe in your comment below!
Lazy Cook's Wild Plum Jelly Recipe
No pectin needed for this recipe when you blend ripe plums with just a few less-ripe ones. The Lazy-Cook's Wild Plum Jelly! #TexasHomesteader
- 1 cup Plum pulp/juice (see below)
- ¾ cup Sugar
Easy, Flexible Directions For Wild-Plum Jelly
Harvest & wash wild plums. For a firm jelly, be sure to harvest both juicy-sweet perfectly ripe as well as slightly unripe plums to get the most natural pectin.
Place washed plums into a large stockpot and add just enough water to cover. Bring water to a simmer and cook fruit until softened, mashing with a potato masher. (about 10-15 minutes)
Line a colander with a jelly bag or cheesecloth and place atop a deep pan. Dump softened mashed plums into the colander & place in the fridge overnight to fully strain the juice.
The next morning measure strained juice and add 3/4 cup granulated sugar for each cup of juice. Stir together in a large stock pot.
Simmer juice over medium-high heat stirring frequently until juice reaches 220 degrees (at sea level) This takes me about 15-20 minutes.
Water-Bath Canning Instructions:
If desired, ladle into sanitized jars leaving 1/4" head space. Seal in a water-bath canner for 5 minutes. Remove sealed jars & place them in a draft-free location for 24 hours before removing rings and testing for seal.
NOTE: Quantity of jars of Plum Jelly depends upon the amount of plums you harvest. Just add 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of pulp/juice you cook out.
Our Delicious Jelly & Preserves Recipes:
- Clover Blossom Jelly
- Our Favorite Jelly Recipes
- Honeysuckle Jelly – Childhood Memories In A Jar
- Wild Plum Jelly – No Added Pectin!
- RancherMan’s Favorite – Pear Preserves
- Blueberry/Lemon Jam – No Added Pectin
- Concord Grape Jelly – No Added Pectin
NE Texas Native Trees & Plants
- Honey Locust Tree – Useless yet Useful
- Identifying A Western Soapberry Tree
- Bois d’Arc – Beautiful & Functional Tree
- Jujube Tree Produces Sweet Fruits
- Wild Plum Tree Offers Plums For Delicious Jelly
- Keeping Bermuda Grass Out Of Garden Beds
- Foraging: Eating From The Land For FREE!
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