Canning Plums in a Hot Water Bath

My first experience with plums was a very happy one. I was all of five and my friend and I were playing on the side of an incline into a ditch beside the street. The house behind us had a fence around the backyard and we sat, playing cards and dolls under this tree.


It was a nice shade tree in the summer but by late summer it had grown into a snack tree. It had the most wonderful sweet fruit. The skin was a deep purple-red and the inside was refreshing on a hot day. We ate lots as the day went on. We both loved those plums.


  • water bath canner
  • set with funnel, tongs, lid lifter, and headspace measure
  • jars
  • lids and bands
  • Fruit Fresh (prevents darkening of fruit)
  • thick towel

Preparing the Jars

To prepare the jars, they can be washed in a dishwasher if it has a sanitized cycle. The jars can be left in the dishwasher on a heat cycle. The lids need to be washed and left in the hot water. The canner needs to be filled so that there will be an inch of boiling water over the top of the jars.

Preparing the Fruit

Plums can be picked yourself or you may want to find a good farmer's market. If you figure about 2 pounds per quart, you can figure how much you need for what you plan to can. The plums should be a deep, rich color of purple. Be sure to do a taste test to see if the plum is sweet and ripe. What you put in that can is what you will get out. If the plum isn't tasty now, it won't be when it comes from the can either.


Making Simple Syrup

You can use either water or simple syrup when canning plums. The water will have to be hot if you use it. If you are going to use syrup, make it now. Light syrup would be 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water, medium syrup would be 3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water, and heavy syrup would be 4 3/4 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water.

Start heating the water in a saucepan and add sugar gradually. Bring to a gentle boil and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Keep boiling gently for about 5 minutes. I would suggest light syrup for plums.

Canning the Plums

  1. Decide whether the plums will be canned whole. If you want them cut in half, be sure that you remove the stone (seed). You need to remove the stem and wash them. If they are to be canned whole, they need to be pricked with a fork on each side of the plum.

  2. Add plums to the syrup for 2 to 3 minutes with the syrup boiling. Fill the jars with plums and pour syrup over the plums. The air bubbles will need to be removed and headspace should be at 1/2 inch.

  3. Wipe the jar tops and place the lids on. Add the bands and put the jars into the water bath. Be sure the water is boiling and covers the jars with at least an inch of water. Add boiling water while processing if necessary.

  4. Process for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, remove the jars with the tongs and place them on a thick towel on the counter. Let the jars cool. Put an inch or two between them so they won't touch and break. Once they are cool, check the seal. Remove the bands and store in a cool, dark place.

By Mary Belk


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