Last year I made plum jam without pectin and it was the best jam I had ever made in my life. I’m trying to replicate the jam this year, although I’m unfortunately buying mass produced plums instead of picking the plum tree at my friend’s 1/4 acre farm plot.
Pectin jam requires huge amounts of sugar to work which is the primary reason people are opting out of using it.
This is the universal no-pectin low sugar jam recipe I’m using.
- 2 quarts chopped fruit
- 1-2 cup sugar (based on taste)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
Multiply the batch based on the amount of fruit you have. For example, I’m using 19.3 pounds of plums so I’m looking to do 5 batches here. I’m keeping the skins because I like the taste and I like the color.
No Pectin Jam Recipe Yield
I have found that for each pound of fruit you start with, you will end up with one pint of finished jam. This 1 to 1 ratio is very easy to remember.
The yield is lower than the yield of a pectin jam but you must realise that pectin jam yields are artificially high because more than half of a pectin jam is added white sugar!
Reducing Sugar Levels
I try to use as little sugar as possible. Some recipes would use as many as 30 cups of sugar for an equivalent amount of fruit, but this recipe only needs 5 to 10. A certain level of sugar is important because it’s part of what preserves the fruit. Lemon juice helps increase acidity which also helps to inhibit bacteria in your preserves.
Some no-pectin jammers like to use multiple shallow pans to boil down their jam, but an easier way is to heat on low heat in a large pot covered with a lid. Covering ensures that your heat is fairly even throughout the pot.
You should chop your fruit up into chunks so that it will break up easier – unless you like chunky jam of course. With pitted fruit like plums you must remove the pits.
Plums don’t need to be peeled, in fact plum jam is much better if you leave the peels on. For other thicker skinned fruits like pears you should peel the fruit before chopping.
A Victorio strainer is a great way of dealing with small to medium sized seeds like those of pears or blackberries.
After adding the finished fruit to the largest stock pot we’ve got, add the water, lemon juice and sugar and mix well.
The liquid level should be just below the level of fruit in the boil pot. Leave the pot on the stove on low to medium heat while heating to a boil.
Once the pot hits boil, you can remove the lid. You can’t keep the lid on during the boil phase because it will prevent most of the water from evaporating.
Unlike in a pectin jam, the boil phase can take a long time. I’ve had jams that need 4 hours of boiling before they are ready to be jarred. But once you taste your first “real” jam, you’ll realise the wait was all worth it and you’ll never want to go back.
For this plum jam recipe I boiled for a total 90 minutes, stirring well every few minutes.
The plum jam turned into a thick jammy sauce all on its own – I didn’t have to mash it with a potato masher at all. Other fruit like peaches hold together better so will need to be mashed if you prefer smoother jam.
How To Tell When it’s Done
As you boil the water off, your jam will become thicker and thicker. You don’t need to worry too much about the fruit’s “jelling point” if you just wait long enough for the jam to become thick and viscous. Unlike pectin jam, the cold jam will rather closely resemble the viscosity of the hot jam, so when the jam seems thick enough – it probably is.
Taste your jam regularly to make sure it’s sweet enough for you. With my jam I started with just 5 cups of sugar but added 1 more cup midway through the boil to get the sweetness just right.
Pressure Canning Jam
After you ladle all your jam into pint or half-pint jars, leaving about 1/4″ of headspace at least, it’s time to preserve them by hot water bath.
We like to use 2 pressure canners to tag team the jam. Pressure canners heat up much faster than water bath canners because you only need only 2 inches of water in the bottom.
For jam, you need only pressure can for 5 minutes at 5 pounds of pressure. You can also hot water bath can for 5 minutes.
For my demo 20 pounds of plums, I ended up with exactly 20 pint jars of finished jam.