As many of you know, I grow food for my family on less than 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles. But I also manage my family’s 1892 farmstead orchard of over 60 fruit trees. This means I do a lot of canning this time of year!
Right now, it is plum season on the farm and I have buckets and buckets of fruit to put up and split among all my family members.
As you probably guessed, I do a lot of plum jam. But another one of my favorite methods for using up an abundance of fruit is to make plum syrup.
Making Plum Syrup:
The finished product can be used in dessert recipes, cocktails or even as an ice tea sweetener.
In order to tackle the large number of plums I have, I make syrup as a two-step, overnight process. This makes it less stressful because I just do a little bit one afternoon, let it sit overnight and then finish it up in the morning. But you could certainly do this all in one afternoon if the mood struck you.
Make Large or Small Batches:
You will notice there are only a few specific measurements in the recipe below. This is because you can make this recipe with any amount of plums – large or small.
And keep in mind that the process is not an exact science and you will get varying levels of syrup thickness based on the pectin level of your fruit. So, don’t sweat it. The most important part is the FLAVOR. The thickness does not matter.
If you wish the syrup to be thicker, simply cook it longer (evaporating more of the water content). But watch it carefully so that it does not burn.
Spiced Plum Syrup Recipe
This recipe is versatile. You can make it with just a quart of plums or a bucket of plums. Once you have followed the steps below to get the juice, you measure and add equal amounts of sugar. Easy!
As you would expect, the yield of this recipe depends upon how many plums you start with. But as a rule of thumb, you should get about two 1/2-pint jars from every cup of plum juice in step 9. You will need cheesecloth, jelly strainer or a thin cotton tea towel for straining in this recipe.
- Fresh plums
- Small amount of water
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Ground Cinnamon
1) Wash and pit your fresh plums. Leave on the skins for color and flavor. There is no need to chop or cut up the flesh. Just quickly remove the pits and move on. (Keep it simple!)
2) To a large, heavy bottomed stockpot, add enough water to just cover the bottom 1/4 of an inch deep. This is to prevent burning while the plums begin to release their juice.
3) Fill the pot with the plums. Do not fill the pot more than 3/4 full.
4) Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pot for 10 minutes.
5) Stir the plums a bit to be sure it is not burning. Adjust your heat if necessary so that they do not burn but are coming up in temperature.
6) Keep the plums covered, stirring every 10 minutes until they begin to simmer. Then remove the lid and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. This entire cooking process can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending upon how many plums you are cooking.
7) After the plums have boiled for several minutes, you will notice they start to breakdown and become mushy. That is what you want. All the juices are being released at this point. Once the mixture is very broken down, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for at least 30 minutes before moving on to the next step. This is so you do not burn yourself while pouring.
8) Place a colander over a new stockpot and line it with cheesecloth or a thin tea towel. Carefully pour the plum mixture through this cloth. (You can also use a jelly strainer for this step if you wish.) No matter how you are straining the juice, your filter will quickly fill up and need to sit for an hour or overnight to completely drain. I prefer to let it sit overnight. You would be surprised how much juice you get when it sits for hours. Just cover the entire thing with another cloth to keep out dust, etc.
At this point, you will be finishing up and processing the syrup. Be sure to have clean canning jars, new lids (sitting in warm water) and your water bath canner filled up and heating on the stove.
9) In the morning, you will have several cups of plum juice. If you want crystal clear syrup, you can strain again. But I don’t find that is necessary. A few bits of fruit will only add flavor. At this point, measure how many cups of juice you have and pour it into a clean, heavy bottomed stockpot.
10) For every cup of plum juice add: one cup of granulated sugar and 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice. I also like to add a little cinnamon to my syrup but it is optional. (For every 2 cups of juice, I would add 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon.) If you wish to add more, wait until you have heated and dissolved the sugar. Taste and adjust the cinnamon if you wish.
11) Heat the mixture to boiling, stirring almost constantly. Turn off heat and ladle into your canning jars.
12) Wipe the rims, add your lids and rings. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
13) After the jars are processed and cooled, check the seals. Store unsealed jars in the refrigerator. Store sealed jars for up to 1 year on the pantry shelf.