Plum Hot Jelly

A few weeks ago, it was hot. Bright sunshine. High summer. It’s kind of hard to fathom now, just a short time later, as I huddle at my desk in fleece pants and fuzzy slippers, watching the rain drip, drip, drip endlessly from the eaves. Back then, in high summer, I met Miss Julia up in Red Hook for some blackberry picking, carelessly comfortable in flip flops and a tanktop: was it really only last month?

As we often do, we traded some goodies: zucchini & summer squash from my CSA, jam & liqueur and all sorts of produce from Julia’s garden. And plums: gorgeous Santa Rosa plums from a farm near Julia. Since the plums were gifted to me by the Queen of Jelly, and since I vaguely remembered a gorgeous, pinky-red, spicy-hot jelly recipe from Tigress a while back, their fate was sealed: plum hot jelly it would be.

And what can I say? When I have plums from Julia and a recipe from Tigress, even I can’t screw it up. Plum hot jelly: as wonderful as a lazy, hot August afternoon.

Adapted from plum hot jelly! by tigress of tigress in a jam.


Plum Hot Jelly


  • 1 lb plums (I used Santa Rosa from Julia)
  • 1 lb tart apples (I used Mutsu from Migliorelli Farm), coarsely chopped (peels, cores and all)
  • zest & juice of 1 small lemon
  • 3 and 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 6 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 – 4 cups sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 small ( 3/8 oz) orange habañero pepper, minced & seeded (reserve seeds and wear gloves!)


  1. Day 1. Working over a non-reactive stock pot or Dutch oven, pit the plums (I break them apart with my hands) and drop into the pot. Add the water, lemon zest and juice, and apples. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add cider vinegar; bring mixture to a boil and boil hard for 5  minutes, uncovered.
  2. In the meantime, scald your jelly bag in boiling water, or dampen several layers of cheesecloth and drape over a colander. Ladle the plum/apple mixture into the jelly bag or colander: allow to drain for several hours, or overnight. Resist the temptation to squeeze the jelly bag, lest you produce a cloudy jelly; reserve the pulp for plum leather!
  3. Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids. Boil jars for at least 10 minutes to sterilize.
  4. Measure juice (I had 3 and 1/2 cups) and measure out an equal amount of sugar. Add juice, sugar and about half of the minced habañero to a wide, heavy preserving pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring just until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to high and boil hard, without stirring, until you’ve reached the gel point: 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer, or jelly crinkles on the frozen plate test. This took less than 10 minutes in my 12-inch diameter Le Creuset.
  5. Remove from heat. Carefully skim foam, trying not to remove minced pepper. Taste and add more habañero, and/or seeds, if you desire more heat (I added another 1/4 pepper, for a total of about 1 teaspoon). Allow jelly to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then stir once more to evenly distribute the habañero. Fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace, wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Allow to rest undisturbed for 24 hours after removing from canner, so as not to disrupt the set.

Yields about 4 cups.


  1. Jars are sterilized prior to filling with jelly such that the processing time can be shortened to 5 minutes; this is often done with jellly as a longer processing time can inhibit the set.
  2. Any fresh chile pepper will work, so use your favorite or what you have on hand. If you’d rather not have bits of pepper in your final product, simply slice your chile in half and add to the juice while boiling; fish it out before filling your jars. Same thing could be done with dried chiles.
  3. I made half the batch size of Tigress’ original recipe, so this recipe can be doubled.
  4. I pureed the plum/apple pulp, added a bit of water, and spread it into dehydrator trays for plum leather. I drizzled leftover blackberry chile syrup through the middle for a deep purple stripe and a burst of spice. Delicious.


Canned, stored in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.


Summer into early Fall.


  1. That looks like a pretty fantastic set! And a fiery plum jelly is truly what we need right now. Can you believe it was only a month ago? The windows are closed and the socks are on. I really am looking forward to anything but this dreary mud-filled weather! It’s not spring, dammit.

  2. That looks really beautiful and exactly the recipe I need. I’ve been staring at my 2lbs of blue plums at a loss which way I wanted to go. Originally, I wanted sweet and spicy, but then an orange arrived on the scene and I was conflicted between Christmasy type flavours of orange, cinnamon and port, but with this small batch recipe, I can have both!

    P.S. I agree with Julia, that is a beautiful, beautiful set.

  3. You know, the set *did* turn out perfectly on this one, and I’m usually so bad at jelly. It must have been the magic of Julia + tigress. And, I did make a plum jam with orange slices & cardamom, a la Christine Ferber, but the set came out really hard. Definited prefer this jelly.

    Which just goes to show you… Julia + tigress trumps Ferber every time! 🙂

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