Plum Jam with Preserved Lemon

plum-jam-preserved-lemonPlums always remind me of my dad. He would eat them by bucketful in summer: if I think of him in summertime, I see a plum in his hand, one missing a great big Dad-sized bite.

I sometimes wonder what he would think of this wacky preserving-canning creature I’ve become. He died many years ago, when I was just out of college and still finding my way in the world. I started cooking as a teenager, so I’m sure I cooked for him at least a few times, back then I would have considered a stir-fry ambitious. Homemade jam? Pickles? Mustard? I don’t think it occurred to me that you could make those things, let alone that you should.

But: back to plums. Because they always remind me of my dad, I can’t seem to resist buying them when I see them at the farmer’s market. I always pick up a pound or two, often without any big plan: I just like to have a bowl on the counter. They make me smile. And while I’m not quite the fresh plum fanatic my dad was (I’m more of a nectarine girl, myself; it’s a texture thing) I do love the flavor; some of my favorite recipes incorporate plums.

This one is no exception. Glorious tart red and deep, deep purple Santa Rosa plums, just over a cup of sugar, and a nice fat piece of preserved lemon, rind, pulp and brine included. The lemon lends it’s funky, salty, fermented flavor to the tart-sweet plums and it’s all married together by just enough sugar to produce a loose set. It’s brilliant over a chèvre-smeared cracker and I can hardly wait to use it on post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. My Dad, I suspect, would still prefer a fresh plum, but his little girl? Give her plum & preserved lemon every time.

plum-preserved-lemonPlum Jam with Preserved Lemon


  • 3 lbs plums, pitted and quartered (I used 2 ½ lbs tart red plums and ½ lb Santa Rosa plums)
  • 1 ¼ cup (10 oz) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled
  • ⅓ of a preserved lemon, with pulp, finely chopped + 1 tsp lemon brine


  1. In a medium stockpot, combine plums, sugar, lemon juice & preserved lemon with brine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, cover and simer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to macerate at least 4 hours or refrigerated, overnight.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Taste the fruit juice and make any adjustments in sugar or lemon. Transfer fruit to a large, wide preserving pot. Bring to a boil over low heat and continue to boil, stirring only to prevent sticking, until you reach a loose set, about 15 minutes. I cooked this jam as little as possible so as to keep the fresh fruit + lemon flavor. Ladle hot jam into hot jars to ¼-inch headspace, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 5 ½ cups.


  1. If you have preserved Meyer lemons, I think those would be brilliant, adding a floral dimension to an already complex preserve. You may, however, want to add an extra tablespoon or two of regular lemon juice, to balance the sweetness of the Meyers.
  2. I like this preserve loose and fresh-tasting: of course, if you prefer a sweeter jam, you can add more sugar and will be able to achieve a firmer set without over-cooking the jam.


Canned, store in a cool dark spot for up to 1 year.


Summer into early Fall.

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  1. Your dad would have loved this, not because he loved plums but more so because you made it. Beautiful post and lovely recipe. I don’t know your dad and I don’t know you but I have a little twinge in my heart for the two of you.

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  3. Jen

    I just made this last night ( without the preserved lemon…so I guess I missed the pont!). Imy first attempt at any kind of jam so I was impressed with myself. Both my two year old and one year old gobbled it up on top of their Greek yogurt, so i know it wont last long!
    I decided to turn this batch into freezer jam, but if I make another batch is it OK to go ahead and process it without the the preserved lemon?

    • Plums are safely acidic to can on their own, and you’ve got the added boost of regular lemon juice, so these are plenty safe to can without preserved lemon. And a plain ole plum jam is always nice too: but I gotta tell you, it’s worth checking out preserved lemons! Maybe a project for this winter when they come back into season. :)

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  5. “I’m more of a nectarine girl, myself; it’s a texture thing” haha! :D

    It looks so yummy! Definitely going to try it if I find good plums in stores, we don’t exactly have the best fruit here in Iceland sadly. :)

  6. I inherently think of plums as a savory-sweet thing. I blame the whole plum sauce trend in Chinese (or Americanized-Chinese) food. This idea, adding the funky salty lemony flavor to plums sounds BRILLIANT. I think it’s (finally) time to make some preserved lemons.

  7. Hooray! Food!

    Oh my goodness! You had me at “plums” but I’m a total sucker for preserved lemons, too. This looks simply fantastic!

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