more jam making: plums and apricots (real food)

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summary: recipe for apricot and plum jams with zero added pectin; changing sugar amounts; information about “Two For Tuesdays!” and Lynn’s High5; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

jam Now that my sister has selfishly taken her jamming book home, I had to return to using the internet for reminders of steps to take when jamming. I know. It was only a week ago. You’d think I’d be able to remember all the steps…. Luckily for me, there are Alanna’s (A Veggie Venture) Practical Home Canning Tips. They really are invaluable.

After reading that many people make jam without pectin in the comments about our recent adventure in sweeeeeeeeet jam making, I was determined to make jam less sugar and perhaps without added pectin. I scoured the internet for jam recipes to see how much sugar and pectin the world at large used. Here’s what I learned first about pectin:

Pectin does require sugar and acid in order to thicken. Make sure to follow your recipe and be cautious about substituting one brand for another because they do have unique gelling properties. Pectin is available in both liquid and dry forms. –Dictionary: Pectin

But I have to tell the truth; I now have a horror of boxed pectin. Have you looked at the ingredients lists? The powdered pectin boxes I looked at all contained fructose and/or dextrose. Even though Certo Liquid pectin (“Pasteurized solution of refined pectin in 2 pouches.”) does not have any added sugar, it annoyingly comes in foil envelopes of 95ml each. WAY too much pectin for the amount of fruit I am working with.

I’d have tried Pomona’s pectin (“a sugar-free, preservative-free low-methoxyl citrus pectin that is activated by calcium”) if I could find it (but I would have had to borrow some designer clothing so I’d be allowed to enter Whole Foods to look there – I have a sneaking suspicion that’s the only place here that would sell it.)

I believe that apricots have a lot of pectin naturally (you wouldn’t believe how thick and gluey the apricot jam made with liquid pectin is!) But I decided I wanted to make other kinds of fruit jam without added pectin. Onto the internet…

Fruits that are high in Pectin include Apples, Blackberries, Cape Gooseberries, Crab Apples, Cranberries, Gooseberries, Grapes, Medlars, Plums and Quince. Any citrus fruit peel is also very high in Pectin. […] Fruits that are low in Pectin include Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries, Peaches, Pears, Raspberries, Rhubarb and Strawberries. -Dictionary: Pectin © 2010 Practically Edible; read more here:

Fruits with naturally high pectin content include citrus fruit such as limes and lemons, berry fruit such as cranberries, loganberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, and tree top fruit such as quinces and apples. […] Fruits with naturally low pectin content include tree fruits such as figs, cherries, nectarines, pears and soft berry fruit such as late varieties of blackberries, strawberries and elderberries. Edible stems of forced rhubarb and early and maincrop varieties of rhubarb, frequently treated like a fruit in preserves, are naturally low in pectin content. […] Stone fruit such as peaches, plums and apricots have moderate levels of natural pectin. Natural Pectin Content of Berry and Tree Fruits: Basic Guide to High to Low Pectin Fruit for Making Fruit Preserves

Hmmmph! I don’t believe them about the apricots and plums. I went ahead to make apricot and plum jams without any added pectin at all.

jam The result? The apricot jam went very well. I made it in two batches. The first batch I added 600gm sugar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice to 1kg of apricots. It tasted fabulous but it was still a little bit sweet. I announced that we HAD to buy more apricots. So we went out and got another kilo. To those, I added 300gm sugar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Then I mixed the two together.

One of the things that really amazed me was the smell of the apricots. Or lack thereof. The apricots looked beautiful. But they smelled like nothing at all. Then as I started cooking the first batch of apricots, I got alarmed. Suddenly, there was the distinct smell of food cooking with sugar. But it wasn’t apricots that I smelled. It was pumpkin!! Yes, that’s right. Pumpkin. How weird was that?

I kept stirring, hoping the smell would go away and was particularly happy to note the wonderful aroma of apricot just as the mixture began to bubble. I wondered if this were an aberation. But exactly the same thing happened with the second batch of apricots.

Just before I was going to process the apricot jam, we realized that it was essential to make the plum jam IMMEDIATELY. There were two baskets of yellow plums that were going to burst if I waited til the next day as planned.

Sigh… Plan ahead!! I didn’t have enough jars. I jumped on my bike and raced to the hardware store to get more jam jars. Ha! Half an hour before they closed for the day!

Then I raced back to chop plums. And chop plums. And more plums. It turns out that four kilos of plums take quite a while to pit and chop….

I was worried about oxidation. Because I know everything there is to know about jam making (*cough*), I decided to put the sugar in the bottom of the pot and dump the chopped plums on top. And I continued pitting and chopping plums. Plums are not nearly as easy as apricots to pit. Plums are very juicy. Plums get slippery when they’ve been sliced in half….

Once the 6 o’clock news headlines were over, T came in to help with the chopping. And finally the chopping was done. By that time the plums in contact with the sugar were busily releasing juice. Very liquid!

I measured the last of the Sicilia lemon juice to discover I was 4 Tbsp short. Oh oh. But we had actual lemons! One lemon produced the necessary 4 Tbsp. And I began cooking the plums. They took forever to come to a boil. They were VERY liquid. Then there was LOTS of foam. And of course, with four kilos of plums and 1600gm sugar in our biggest stock pot, the foam wanted to boil over. So I started skimming it. And kept boiling and boiling the plums til they looked to be about right and smelled amazing. (Mmmmm, plums!!)

And I thought I was ready to process. Hmmm. Still ridiculously liquid.

We looked at all that foam. We tasted it. (Delicious!! Lemony chiffon) I put it back into the plums and brought the mixture back to a boil. Almost all of the lemony foam went back in. Still ridiculously liquid.

I processed the plums anyway. And now we have jars and jars of delicious plum and apricot jams.

Here’s what I did:

Apricot and Plum Jams with NO added Pectin
apricot . plum

Apricot Jam

  • 2kg apricots
  • 800gm sugar
  • ¼ c lemon juice
  • ⅛ tsp (pinch) powdered ginger


  1. Wash and pit 1kg apricots. Cut coarsely and put them into a large pot. Reserve the pits.
  2. Place the pot over hight heat and stir in 500gm sugar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.
  3. Keep stirring until the mixture starts bubbling like crazy and finally smells like apricots rather than nothing at all. Forget to check to see just how long you are supposed to keep it boiling. Guess that five more minutes seems right. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Look at the reserved pits and hammer vaguely at one to open it. Remember that the pits have a distinct almond flavour and decide that you don’t want any almond flavour in your apricot jam. Put pits into compost.
  5. Taste the jam. Be amazed at the flavour. Put lid on and leave on the counter to develop flavour. Announce that it’s highly necessary to go out and get more apricots.
  6. Ride bike to store to get another kilo of apricots, rejecting the less expensive imported apricots and choosing the pricier local ones.
  7. Wash and pit the other 1kg apricots and place in another pot. (Discard pits in compost bin.) Stir in 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 300gm sugar because someone thinks the jam is still too sweet. Throw in ⅛ tsp powdered ginger. Worry that it might be overpowering. Realize it’s too late if it is, that it can’t be THAT bad and stop worrying.
  8. Place the pot over hight heat and keep stirring until the mixture starts bubbling like crazy. Forget again to check to see just how long you are supposed to keep it boiling. Guess that ten minutes seems right. Boil for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Combine the two apricot mixtures. Cover and set aside on the counter overnight to develop flavour.

Plum Jam (or is it Sauce?)

  • 4kg ripe plums
  • 1600gm sugar
  • ½ c lemon juice
  1. Wash and pit plums. Put pits in compost bin. Cut the plums coarsely and put them into a large pot. Notice that it is much more difficult to pit juicy plums than it is to pit apricots.
  2. Worry that the plums will oxidize before all of them are chopped and decide to put all the sugar into the big pot. Continue to chop and pit plums.
  3. When all the plums are finally chopped, stir in 4 Tbsp lemon juice and realize that there is no more lemon juice in the Sicilia container. Rifle the fridge to find an actual lemon (that was lucky) and add 4 more Tbsp lemon juice. Put the pot over high heat and stir stir stir until the mixture starts bubbling like crazy. Worry that it’s so full that it’s going to bubble over. Be amazed at the amount of foam. Skim foam off before it can bubble over onto the stove top. Stir stir stir. Freak out that it’s starting to get way too close to the top of the pot. Turn the heat down. Stir stir stir. Wonder why it’s not getting any thicker. Guess that five more minutes might do the trick. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Taste removed foam. It’s delicious!! Mmmm, lemon mousse. Wonder if that is supposed to be in with the plums to turn them into jam. Scoop it back into plum mixture and return the plums to a boil. Remove from heat again and skim off the miniscule amount of foam that is there. Cover and let sit on counter until you are ready to process.


:: I did the processing in two sessions. I started with the apricot jam and some the plum jam then left the rest of the plums to sit on the counter overnight and processed the plum jam (or is it sauce?) the next morning.

:: Next time, if we have 4kg of fruit for jamming, I will cook half of it first, leave that on the counter to rest and then cook the other half. I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons for the plum jam failing to become jam was because the pot was way too full.

jam And now we have jam galore! Well, we have apricot and plum jams galore. One of the apricot jams we have to eat right away. (Poor us. :-D) The seal bubbled. After 24 hours of sitting, the seal looks just ever so slightly uneven but still, better safe than sorry.

And we have several jars of delicious very loose plum jam. (The adventure in making jam without added pectin is still a work in progress.) Okay Okay Okay. It’s NOT jam. It sauce. It’s delicious sauce though!

Did I hear someone say waffles?

Two for Tuesdays - Eat Real Food

Two for Tuesdays!
Eat Real Food

This event was created by Alex (A Moderate Life) with the idea that each “Two for Tuesday” post would contain two things (two recipes, two links, two variations on a theme… as long as the post is about real food. Alex, Heather (girlichef) and five other bloggers have joined forces to co-host this week. Heather wrote:

» REAL food is homemade. REAL food is from scratch. REAL food has recognizable ingredients. REAL food is made from traditional ingredients. REAL food is food you make with your own hands. -Heather (girlichef), “Extra! Extra! Read all About It! Announcing… TWO for TUESDAYS!”

For links to the other “Two for Tuesdays” hosts and complete details on how to participate in the weekly event, please read the following:

  • Heather (girlichef): Two for Tuesdays Volume 8
  • Alex (A Moderate Life): Two For Tuesdays Blog Hop!


Lynn’s High Five

High5: I did it! High 5! I did it!! I made jam without using pectin. All by myself.

Ha!! Now I am really an expert at canning. (Once again, please, please, please reassure me that I don’t have to say that I’m joking.)

You select the challenge – you know best what intimidates you, what you’ve been putting off trying. When you put up your post, just slap up this logo to let the world know you’ve taken on something new and given it a good kicking! – Lynn (Cookie baker Lynn), I Did It (and you can, too)


most recent Two for Tuesday (Real Food) posts: jam making: peaches and apricots (real food) and Beans rock, don’t they? (real food)

Oh, and about the really sweeeeeeet jam we made last week? T has been spooning bits of it into his Sangria rather than adding sugar.

This entry was posted in food & drink, HnS:RF, BP, posts with recipes on by .

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4 responses to “more jam making: plums and apricots (real food)

  1. girlichef

    You are NOT going half-arse, are you!? You go woman…both of these jams sound fabulous…pumpkin- how intriguing! I wonder why it smelled that way? MMMMM…now I’m craving pumpkin butter…sorry, off track. Lemon chiffon…oh my, I’m am so in need of some good jam now. This page is going to be a valuable resource for me to refer back to…thanks so much for sharing it with Two for Tuesdays, E!!! :-)

    Yes, it’s good to learn from others’ mistakes, gc. :-) (pumpkin butter! What’s that?!) -ejm

  2. Butterpoweredbike

    Yellow plums? I don’t have those here. I imagine them to be so gorgeous. Listen, when my jam/jelly doesn’t set, I never admit to failure. I always claim that I was making syrup all along! Thank you for linking up with Two for Tuesday. I’m really enjoying your jam making adventures!

    hahaha, how devious of you Bpb! But I’ll make a note to not apologize about the looseness of the plums. Because the plum sauce is really really good. We get purple plums here too. But I’m guessing they might ripen a bit later. So far I’ve only seen imported purple plums. -ejm

  3. alex@amoderatelife

    I love experimenting in the kitchen like you do, Elizabeth! We are not big jam eaters except on savory dishes, but I would consider making the apricot jam for use on a big ham or turkey! Very cool and thanks for sharing on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! :) Alex


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