How to Make Whole Spiced Wild Plums: An Illustrated Guide

Wild Plum Trees

Wild plums in their prime, ready for eating.
Wild plums in their prime, ready for eating.

A Heavenly Variation of Simple Canned Wild Plums

In a previous article, I showed you how to prepare whole wild plums, canned, to be used as a dessert, side-dish, or in a relish tray. Now, I will show you a wonderful variation of these:

Spiced Wild Plums

This variation is a bit more time consuming, but not complicated. It takes three days to produce Spiced Wild Plums. Most of that is spent waiting for them to soak in spices and sugar. This fruit is worth the extra effort. Each piece looks like a jewel, and is practically glaced. You will have trouble keeping out of it, once you open a properly matured, finished jar.

What you will need to make these:

  • Fresh Wild Plums, any variety
  • Spices and sugar (ground cinnamon, allspice, and cloves)
  • White vinegar
  • Boiling waterbath or steam canner
  • Canning jars (any size), with appropriate lids (I prefer pints for whole wild plums)
  • Jar lifter
  • Tongs, or magnetic lid lifter
  • Sauce pot, for boiling syrup
  • Colander, for draining plums
  • Ladle
  • Canning funnel (has a wider mouth which fits just inside jar rims)
  • Thin bladed knife, needle, sewing pin, or dinner fork (for pricking plums)
  • Crock, or large bowl (glass or stainless steel), for soaking plums

Method - Step One - Wash Fresh Wild Plums; Drain

Wash plums gently in water.
Wash plums gently in water.
Drain in a collander.
Drain in a collander.

Step Two - Prick Plums; Place in Crock

Prick each plum in two or more places, to prevent them bursting when heated. Place plums in a crock or bowl.
Prick each plum in two or more places, to prevent them bursting when heated. Place plums in a crock or bowl.

Step Three - Prepare Syrup

In a large pot, combine, per 4 quarts of wild plums, combine:

6 cups of sugar (don't skimp in this recipe)

1 cup distilled white vinegar, 4-6% acidity

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, or 4 whole cloves

Boil all together 5 minutes. Pour syrup over plums in crock, and let stand 24 hours. Drain syrup off plums, reheat, and pour over plums once again, to stand another 24 hours.

The syrup will surround, but not cover plums. You should stir them once or twice a day.
The syrup will surround, but not cover plums. You should stir them once or twice a day.

Step Four - Prepare Jars

Wash (sterilize if necessary) and examine all jars (chips, cracks), rings (bent, excessive rust), and lids (misaligned rubber). Heat boiling waterbath canner, about two-thirds full of water for a full load.
Wash (sterilize if necessary) and examine all jars (chips, cracks), rings (bent, excessive rust), and lids (misaligned rubber). Heat boiling waterbath canner, about two-thirds full of water for a full load.
Either gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, to scald them.
Either gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, to scald them.

Step Five - Pack Plums Into Jars, Process in Boiling Waterbath Canner

The third day, drain and set aside syrup in a saucepan. Heat the syrup to boiling. Pack the plums into jars to within 1/2" of the rims (1/2" headspace).

Using a canning funnel, if desired, ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.
Using a canning funnel, if desired, ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.
Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims with a clean cloth. Adjust two-piece lids snugly, but not tightly.
Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims with a clean cloth. Adjust two-piece lids snugly, but not tightly.
Filled jars ready to go into canner.
Filled jars ready to go into canner.
Lift rack in carefully! The water should be at a hard boil, and should cover jars by about 1".
Lift rack in carefully! The water should be at a hard boil, and should cover jars by about 1".
Wait for the water to come back to a rolling boil before you start timing 15 minutes (at 5,000 feet elevation).
Wait for the water to come back to a rolling boil before you start timing 15 minutes (at 5,000 feet elevation).
Using a jar lifter, remove jars to a draft-free. heat restistant surface, lined with a towel.
Using a jar lifter, remove jars to a draft-free. heat restistant surface, lined with a towel.
As the jars cool, the lids will "ping" to let you know they are sealed. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Rinse outsides of jars, and store in a cool, dark place.
As the jars cool, the lids will "ping" to let you know they are sealed. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Rinse outsides of jars, and store in a cool, dark place.

Wild Plum Wine (also Crab Apple) - Tasting...Another Fun Thing to do with Your Wild Plums

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Comments 10 comments

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Those are so pretty in the jars, and I love canned plumbs. Too bad they don't grow around here -- at least I haven't come across any yet!


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 6 years ago Author

Ivorwen, do you suppose you could take some seeds back with you when next you visit? Maybe they don't grow because nobody planted any. I'm sure they would be a welcome addition to your area. :)

The wild plum trees that Dad put in at the pasture corner almost 20 years ago have grown into a dreadful thicket. You have to pretend you're Prince Philip ("Sleeping Beauty") slashing through the thorns to harvest the fruit. But it's worth it. The plums in the other tree rows didn't do well this year.


LiftedUp profile image

LiftedUp 6 years ago from Plains of Colorado

I have 6 quart jars and 6 pint jars full of spiced plums on the table, still cooling. It is hard to keep out of the crock once all the ingredients are in, let alone out of the jars once they are finished! But oh, the plums look beautiful and delectable in a glass dish on a holiday table.


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 6 years ago Author

LiftedUp, I know what you mean about keeping out of the crock! The plums are practically candied. :) But you're right - they are very much worth having at holidays. Of course, it is a very good early springtime treat to take a jar out under the blossoming apple tree, and share it with my children. The sunlight and long-awaited warmth make them taste even better.


Julia 4 years ago

Question - can I use store-bought plums? I purchased a great big sack of them yesterday for just a few bucks and would love to try this! They're a little bigger....


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 4 years ago Author

Julia, it should work just fine, I think. I assume you bought domestic, as opposed to wild, plums. Domestic plums are bigger, and also sweeter, so you'll want to keep that in mind when preparing your syrup. Wild plums can be quite sour.


spunkychick2 4 years ago

I started mine last night....a hybrid wild prune plum (and something else)....i pricked mine 2-3 times with needle -- a bunch have split and the skins are coming off. the syrup is a dark red colour - not clear like yours. also i had to can mine after only 24 hours -- because of fruit flies i had to keep my crock covered and i was afraid they would ferment in 3 days. any thoughts???


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 4 years ago Author

Sorry, Spunkychick, somehow I missed your comment. Thoughts...over-ripe fruit? A different sugar level in the mature fruit? Regular wild plums don't have much sugar, you know. Your syrup color shouldn't matter a lot...it just means the specific qualities of your plums are different from mine, and they bled more easily. Were the insides of your plums red? Mine tend to be yellow or at least, light colored. So, don't be discouraged. Do they taste good now?


Dawn McKinney 2 years ago

I followed this recipe to the letter, and am really concerned about the syrup being so thick! It was almost as if it got really close to the soft ball stage while boiling. I'm wondering if the syrup will thin out as it sits? How will I have enough to heat up 2x more? I am hot bathing the regular ones now, and they are looking lovely! But the spiced ones have me worried..


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 22 months ago Author

Dawn,

Somehow I missed your comment. I don't know how. I have checked comments reasonably often, so don't know how it didn't show up. Obviously, I am too late to help you with your syrup problem this time, but if it happens again, it is OK to not boil the syrup as long, or to thin it out to the desired consistency with a dribble of hot water.

Making syrup for canned fruits is not an exact science, and you can use your best judgment about when a syrup is ready. Personal experience will tell you whether you prefer a thicker or thinner syrup, and either one is not likely to make or break your fruit quality. Keep in mind that a higher ratio of sugar to water will produce a thicker syrup, and less sugar to water will produce a thinner syrup.

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