Preserving the Plums of Summer

plum jam

Unbelievably, summer is ending soon, and my kids start school on Monday! My thoughts are turning to fall, but I’d like to keep a bit of summer around. We have four decades-old Italian prune trees in our San Francisco garden. They’re the most reliable markers of the season we know– without fail, they bear their sweet fruit for the first two weeks of July. In the last few years, they haven’t borne much fruit, and we were starting to wonder if plum trees can go into menopause. But the weather pattern of the past year gifted us an abundant bounty this year. My kids and the kids who came over on the 4th of July harvested a bucketful. Sadly, the lifespan of these plums is as effervescent of their season, and after a week, the plums get soft, even in the refrigerator. But years of experience with this phenomenon has led me to create a jam to preserve our plums long after summer has ended– plum jam, of course. I like to balance the tartness of these plums with sweet spice, so I add cinnamon and ginger, and sweeten if needed with the soulful sweetness of brown sugar.

Cinnamon-Ginger Plum Jam


1 pound of Italian prunes or other plums, super-ripe, washed and pitted

demerara sugar to taste (about 1/4 cup)

2 cinnamon sticks

1 quarter-sized slice of ginger root


1. Place pitted plums into a heavy pot.

2. Add cinnamon sticks and ginger.

3. Slowly bring to a boil over low heat, then lower to a simmer. Add brown sugar, stir and adjust to taste.

4. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

5. If desired, remove lid and raise heat slightly to reduce to desired thickness. We like ours saucy so I don’t usually reduce it. Remove ginger and cinnamon sticks before placing in jars.

6. Meanwhile, prepare jars for canning using proper technique. A good tutorial is here at The Kitchn. Pour hot jam into prepared jars and can for later use.

7. Alternatively, if you are planning to eat this up quickly, allow to cool and then place in clean jars. Keeps in refrigerator for a week at least. Enjoy with toast, over vanilla ice cream, or if you’re one of my kids, by the spoonful!


Thanks for coming by! If you have a favorite recipe for preserving your summer harvest, please feel free to share it in the comments!

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