Damson or Plum Jam

Damson jam is a big favourite in this house.  I love it and my youngest adores it too.  We are lucky enough to have a couple of damson trees in the garden and they produce well most years.  I usually make something with them before freezing some for that lovely winter treat stewed damsons.  Sometimes I will make pickled damsons, otherwise damson vodka (very popular round here for some reason) or damson jam and if I am feeling especially productive I will manage all three.  This week is the turn of the jam. It is very easy to make and very delicious to eat. The same recipe can be used for plums of any description.

This makes about 6-7 jars of varying sizes or 8 lb jars

1.5kg damsons
1.25kg granulated sugar
400ml water


I can never be faffed to stone my damsons before making this jam and so I cook them whole and then scoop most of the stones out before pouring into the jars and then take the rest out when spreading on my  bread. But if you have more patience than I do then go ahead and stone the damsons/plums.

Put the prepared damsons/ plums (i.e stems removed, any over ripe ones removed, washed) into a preserving pan with the water.  Simmer for about ten minutes until the fruit is soft. It may take longer for some varieties and some may be ready sooner so keep an eye on things.

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Bring to boiling point and boil rapidly until setting point is achieved.  Setting point can be tested by placing 4 saucers in the fridge before you start making the jam and then you pour a teaspoonful of the jam onto a cold saucer.  Leave to cool for a minute or so and then push the jam with your finger, if it wrinkles, it is at setting point. If it doesn’t wrinkle then boil for a few more minutes and then test again.  Otherwise use a jam thermometer and it is ready when it reaches 104.5°c.

Remove any scum that has risen to the surface. Pot into sterilised jars and cover whilst hot.


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31 thoughts on “Damson or Plum Jam”

  1. Looks delicious. I was going to make some damson jam this year but the tree that I normally forage from has been cut back severely. Oh well, I’ve got some of last year’s damson vodka to drown my sorrows.

  2. Oh what lovely damson jam, just look at that colour. I can just about remember how good it tastes! Although the only jam I’ve had made by my aunt always had the stones left in. So hats off to you for trying to get them out. Pickled damsons sound rather good too.

  3. I can’t be “faffed” (love this term!!) to stone the plums either—too much trouble, and I always lose a little fruit in the process. I scoop them out of the jam as it cooks.

    The color of damson jam is unlike any other—just gorgeous.

  4. We were trying to work out how to know it was setting point when we found your receipe. Me and mum now sat in tears in eye remembering nanny and her saucers. Thanks for your good work off to boil some damsons.

  5. Love damson jam, I cut the stones out whilst sitting in the garden in the sun shine,if you do this it helps with the setting if you put the the stones in muslin and boil with the fruit.
    Off to make chutneys now.

  6. Thanks for sharing delicious recipe ingredients of Damson jam. Whatever jam ingredients I’ve found yet, this is the best. I like its color, smell and unforgettable flavor. Overall looks yummy and yummy. Thanks once more time.

  7. Can I simply freeze the jam in plastic containers when cooked? I live in the U.S. and damsons are very difficult to find here. I purchased some at a local farmers market and washed, dried and put in the freezer whole. Am now ready to make jam but don’t have much space to store jars but have a large freezer. Many thanks for the recipe.

    1. Hi Bhatia,
      I don’t know if jam will freeze well. What I would do if you don’t think you will get through the 6-7 jars that this recipe makes is to half the quantities and make only 4 jars. The jam will keep for several months if not opened if they are sealed when the jam and the sterile jar are both hot. Keep the remaining damsons in the freezer and make the jam again when you need it. My mum makes small batches of jam like this because she prefers her jam fresh. I hope this reply makes sense. Enjoy the jam.

      1. Many thanks for response, Kath. I did think of this but some of the university sites over here are warning against potting up without using a canning bath, although my mother and other relatives back in Ireland always used the wax paper and then the transparent covers with the elastic bands. I always thought that, if the cover became taut, the jam was sterile but am having second thoughts! Will give it a try. Jill

      2. Hi Jill, I have never used the canning bath technique. I just make sure that my jars are scrupulously clean and then I heat them in a low oven or 10-15 minutes. I pour the jam in when hot and seal with screw tops whilst hot. The jam stays mould free for several months. Once the jar is opened I keep it in the fridge. I am sorry I called you by your surname in the last message. I missed the Jill bit. 🙂 Kath

  8. I cannot get my damson jam to set and was wondering if I had included the correct amount of sugar, I added 2.7 of sugar to 3.9 of damsons, It seem very sweet to the taste, I will be most grateful if someone could put a 77 year old novice on the right path,

    1. Hi John,
      I think it does need some sugar. My recipe uses almost as much sugar as fruit. So based on the amount of damsons you have put in it will require about 3.5 (kilos/pounds?) of sugar. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about it unless it is very runny. It will still be delicious and if it is still warm at the moment it will firm up a bit when cool. I hope this helps.
      Best wishes Kath

  9. Can’t wait to give this a go. Our local youth club has a damson tree they have said people can go pock from. So I’m off in a bit to pick then drop a jar of jam round to the group leader as a thank you. Can’t beat something yummy you didn’t pay for 🙂

  10. Hi, does anyone know if this recipe work if I use plums that have been in vodka for 3 months and then plonked in the freezer for another 6 months. I really don’t want to bin the plums I rescued from the vodka! Thanks

  11. Hi I find it a waste of time too trying to pre stone the damsons before cooking. My answer is to cook the damsons in the liquid till they are very soft then before adding the sugar rub them through a colender with a wooden spoon and any tough bits of skin plus the stones are held back and you are left with a gorgeous damson purée which goes back into the pan.

  12. I half all my damsons and yank the stones out with a strawberry huller.Then boil and simmer the stones in a small amount of water, strain and add this back into my jam mixture. Mine sets fine but I do use equal quantities of sugar to the fruit.
    The first time I made damson jam I left in the stones since the recipe I had said they would float to the top during cooking and you could remove with a slotted spoon! Yeah right!! Haha!! Hence the laborious task of yanking the stones! (I love it really!)

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