The Lazy Cook’s Wild Plum Jelly Recipe – No Pectin Needed!

by Texas Homesteader ~

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There are several wild plum trees in our pasture.  The recent years of drought have killed off many of them, but there are still 2 or 3 small ones left. One of the trees produced enough plums this year for me to make this small batch of wild plum jelly. Is there any more beautiful crimson color than what’s displayed from a jar of homemade wild plum jelly?

Gathering the Wild Plum Harvest

Our wild plums are usually ripen to perfection in late August. 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.

I like to harvest the very ripe plums as well as a few of the plums that aren’t ‘quite there‘.  This mixture not only gives my jelly a delicious flavor, but I’ve read adding a few less ripe plums offer up a little more natural pectin for a thicker jelly too.  I don’t know if it’s an old wives tale or not but I’ve never had to add commercial pectin to my wild plum jelly.

Lazy-Cook’s Method – Love it!

Now let me tell ya this is the lazy girl’s efficient time manager’s way to make jelly.  I initially found this recipe over at GardenGuides and it’s a jam I make every year that I possibly can.  Since I don’t know at any given year how many plums my tree will offer up I can’t pre-determine how much juice I’ll need for my jelly.

No worries, this recipe is adjustable based on the amount of juice you get. And wild plums are tiny, about the size of a quarter or smaller.  No I don’t want to cut & pit all these tiny fruits, that would take forever! I don’t have the time nor the patience for that kind of cooking.

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 simmer.

As the plums are simmering I’ll take a potato masher and mash the 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.

Wild Plum Jelly recipe - No peeling, no pitting, no PECTIN Check out this Lazy-Girl's wild plum jelly recipe. #TexasHomesteader

Then I need to strain the pits, skins and pulp from the juice.  I’ll use cheesecloth-lined colander set on top of a pan.  I just plop the whole plum-mash in – leaving it 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 and I’m left with that lovely juice.  After harvesting & cooking down 2 lbs 13 oz of plums I ended up with just under 4 cups of juice .

Wild Plum Jelly recipe - No peeling, no pitting, no PECTIN Check out this Lazy-Girl's wild plum jelly recipe. #TexasHomesteader

Cooking The Jelly

I add about 3/4 cup granulated sugar for each cup of juice and add it all to a deep pan.  On medium-high heat I bring the juice to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the juice reaches 220 degrees. (about 15-20 minutes)

Boom! Now my jelly is ready.  That 4 cups of juice made five half-pints of delicious 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 10 minutes.  Done and DONE!

NOTE:  I divided my available jam into jars for canning, leaving quite a large head space.  But the Ball Canning Guide recommends leaving only 1/4″ head space.  I guess this is a case of do what I say & not what I do??  LOL 

In all seriousness, it’s always best for a safer product to follow proper head space requirements.  So for this jam, fill jars with 1/4″ head space prior to canning.

Wild Plum Jelly recipe - No peeling, no pitting, no PECTIN Check out this Lazy-Girl's wild plum jelly recipe. #TexasHomesteader

THIS is the proper head space in the photo below:

Wild Plum Jelly recipe - No peeling, no pitting, no PECTIN Check out this Lazy-Girl's wild plum jelly recipe. #TexasHomesteader

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:

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

Author www.TexasHomesteader.com

Instructions

  1. Harvest & wash wild plums.  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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Simmer juice over medium-high heat stirring frequently until juice reaches 220 degrees (about 15-20 minutes)
  5. If desired, ladle into sanitized jars leaving 1/4" head space.  Seal in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

~TxH~  

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Delicious Jelly, Jam & Preserves Recipes

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51 thoughts on “The Lazy Cook’s Wild Plum Jelly Recipe – No Pectin Needed!

  1. Pam

    I made this jelly yesterday. When I ladle it into the jars what is the consistency supposed to be? It was very watery. Just wondering because it is still watery 24 hours later. What should I do?

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yes, the jelly will be very close to its final consistency when you put it in your jars. Wild plums are naturally high in pectin, so there’s no need to add purchased pectin to this wild-plum jelly recipe. I did a quick search & found that ‘Italian plums’ are lower in natural pectin than wild plums. Were you using wild plums or something else maybe? But what to do about your current batch? Well, although this wild-plum jelly has never failed to set for me, I’ve certainly had other jams/jellies that didn’t set the way I wanted them to. I’ve poured out jelly that didn’t set and reworked it again with purchased pectin – in my case there were directions right on the pectin package for reworking jams/jellies that didn’t set. My results were varied. It often helped thicken it, but in my opinion it didn’t really didn’t bring the jam/jelly to its full thickness. Still, you might try that? Also I’ve read that some jellies that didn’t set will get slightly thicker over time (I believe it was about 30 days) Other than that I’ve often heard that others will use jelly that didn’t set in other ways such as ice cream topping & such. Maybe you can remake it into something that you can enjoy? Let us know what you decide and how it works. Good luck! ~TxH~

      Reply
  2. Jennifer

    I’m so happy I found this recipe! I have so many golden wild plums this year. I was able to can 4 pints, 6 half pints, and 6 quarter pints of jelly! I can’t wait to try it. I just took it out of the canner and they pinging away!!!

    Reply
  3. Phyllis Robinson

    I wanted wild plums so badly, but couldn’t find them. I ordered chickasaw and mexican plum trees from Nativ Nursery, they have a rapid mast system that makes the root system fantastic, the trees grow so fast and are so healthy. If you want loaded trees with beautiful fruit I would suggest their trees. I made jelly (used your receipe), jam, chutney all this year with my plums and my trees were planted in 2014. Last year i planted paw paw, persimon crab apple and pecan from them, the trees were beautiful when received and have grown so much since planted I am amazed.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Although they were planted long before we ever arrived on this property so I don’t know for sure, I think those are the two types of plum trees I have as well, Phyllis! The Chickasaw plums ripen this time of year and the Mexican plums ripen in September. I’m not sure I can tell a difference in their taste so I’m just happy to have 2 plum seasons. I absolutely love to make plum jelly with ’em. Glad you’re enjoying it too. ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Jennifer, I’d think you could store it in your refrigerator or freezer instead. Seems I’ve read the typical homemade jelly can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks or frozen for a year. Do your research so you’re comfortable with the length of storage for your situation, but your refrigerator and freezer can be your non-canning friend! ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Sandy wack

    What is a recipe for Plum syrup.Have you made it.I don’t have recipe for it.I have red wild plums I made plum jelly with your recipe.looks good can’t wait to have it on toast.san

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      This recipe doesn’t call for honey, Dana, so I can’t vouch for the safety of a honey substitution. We are in our 2nd year of beekeeping & I’m also searching for honey recipes so if I find out I’ll let ya know. Congrats on your hives, girl. It’s exciting, isn’t it??!! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I cook the jelly to 220 degrees and then water-bath can it. My jelly thickens more as it cools after canning. I leave the canned jars undisturbed for 24 hours. Afterward I remove the rings * the jelly is always thick and jelly-like. I’ve heard that sometimes if your jelly doesn’t thicken immediately (or by the next day) that it will thicken slightly over the next 30 days or so. I’ve found this to be the case with jellies I’ve made in the past that weren’t thick after I canned it. ~TMH~

      Reply
    2. Marg Howlett

      I made 14 jars of this recipe it looks great but it looks very watery…. How long does it take to set …. Loved the receipt very easy…,

      Reply
      1. Texas Homesteader Post author

        Oh no, Marg! This wild-plum jelly is often semi-soft when I make it to it stirs in beautifully for my homemade yogurt or to spread on toast or biscuits. But one of my batches this year didn’t jell either (not sure what happened – I’ve never had that problem before with this jelly) Although the jelly will thicken as it cools, I waited until the next day & the jelly was still not jelled. So I dumped it all back into a clean pot and heated again to 220 but this time I let it stay there for a few minutes. Then I re-processed it in a water-bath canner and it jelled beautifully. The only thing I can think of is perhaps the probe for my thermometer was too close to the bottom of the pan (and therefore too close to the heat source) and maybe the whole pan of simmering jam didn’t reach the required 220 degrees? Not sure but it jelled fine for me when I reprocessed it the next day. I will say that there are some who say un-thickened jelly will become thicker over the next 30 days or so. I’ve seen that happen with my honeysuckle jelly so take that for what it’s worth. But if it were me, I’d wait 24 hours and if it wasn’t thick I’d assume that I’d need to reprocess it. Good luck! ~TMH~

        Reply
  5. tibbs

    Not to criticize you in your finish product, but why are the jars of jelly pictured in the recipe pin only roughly 2/3 full. If you water bath canned this jelly, you should always fill the canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the top rim of the jar. This is strictly my own observation and opinion.

    Reply
  6. Rosie (@greenrosielife)

    I love plums in all forms – fresh. jams and jellies, puddings …. but I struggle to grow them as we always seem to get frost or string winds at flowering time. However I did find a small bag of them in the freezer that a friend gave em and yesterday we had plum, apple and mincemeat crumble. That was delicious! #WasteLessWednesday

    Reply
  7. Michelle

    I would love to find some wild plums! We have all kinds of wild fruit on our farm, but I haven’t found plums. I may have to plant some. I love plum jelly and it’s so beautiful. I’ll pin your recipe and hope I get to try it sometime.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I love plum jelly too Michelle. I was so sad when I thought the string of drought years had taken all my trees but very excited to see a tree tucked in the back bloom last spring. Yep, a plum tree that had survived the drought! It provided enough plums to make a hearty batch of plum jelly too, yea! ~TMH~

      Reply
  8. Pili

    I have never tried plum jelly but it looks delicious and not difficult to make. Thanks for sharing it with us at Sweet Inspiration, have a wonderful week!!

    Reply
  9. Jamie

    Yum! I sure wish I could grow a plum tree here in the mountains – that would be great! 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us at the #HomeMattersParty

    Reply
  10. ColleenB.~Texas

    Awesome; and what a pretty color. Now I’m wanting to go around the country side to see if I can find me some wild plums. Very fortunate to have your very own wild plums growing on your property. Ok, just curious here; but why so much air space in the jars? Thanks for sharing the instructions.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I love the color too Colleen. I used to have some large, productive and very easily accessible trees in the pasture but the drought killed off most of them. I’m pretty happy to have pinpointed a few medium-sized trees, although it’s odd they produce differently than each other. Maybe the sun-to-shade percentage or maybe the soil but I’m thrilled to be able to harvest at least a little something from them. The larger headspace in these jars is simply due to me trying to divide equal-ish the jelly that was made with the number of plums I was able to harvest. Since it’s wild plum jelly and you can’t just buy the amount of plums you need for a recipe, this recipe is based on how many wild plums you’re able to harvest any given season. I often just pour the leftover hot jelly into a snap-lid glass jar to keep in the fridge for us to enjoy now but we already have so much jelly in the fridge so I divided the jelly equally into the jars I was canning. ~TMH~

      Reply
  11. Jo Pfeiffer

    Oh this is sooooo awesome!! I have been looking for a recipe for wild plum jelly! We have several plum trees on our property and I just hate to see them go to waste. Thank you!

    Reply

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