Canning For Beginners: Plums!

Want to try canning fruit but don’t know where to begin?  Try plums!  They require no peeling, coring, or scalding.  They make for a tasty, quick dessert or snack, and they look gorgeous on your shelves.  What more could you ask for?
My parents have lots of Italian plums trees (also known as prune plums) and we recently were gifted 60 lb.  They are fantastic eaten fresh.  I also adore them as jam.  The kids eat them out of the food dehydrator before they are even dried, and they love to count the pits after eating them canned, for dessert.  In fact they make it a competition.  How many pits did YOU get?
So you’ve never canned.  You will need a canner, tongs for removing the jars, and jars and lids.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment.  Buy (craigslist!) or borrow (grandma!)  the canner and ask your friends or relatives for old jars.  Jars are also relatively cheap new during the canning season.  I also see jars in the free section of craigslist frequently.  In fact I found -oh- 100 or so jars for Healthy Green Mama last spring, all for free.  If you are reusing lids, make sure they aren’t nicked around the rubber seal.  These might not reseal.

I quickly canned 20 lb the other afternoon.  20 lb made about 14 quart jars.


  • Large Canner and tongs for removing jars
  • 14 quart glass wide mouth canning jars
  • 14 wide mouth lids and rings
  • Large pot with lid
  • Small pot with lid
  • 2 cup glass measuring cup that pours
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cooling rack


  • 20 lb. Italian plums
  • White sugar
  • Cinnamon sticks and star anise (Optional)


  1. Wash fruit, removing stems, leaves, or fruit that are too soft or beginning to rot.
  2. Prepare lids and rings according to directions on box.
  3. Wash jars.
  4. Place jars in oven and heat to 225F.  (Don’t put cold jars in hot oven.  Let them heat up with oven).
  5. Bring about 16 cups water and 4 cups sugar to a boil to make your syrup.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  (Ratio is 4:1 water to sugar but you can make it sweeter if you want.  Some people like 3:1.)
  6. Drain plums.
  7. Using gloves, remove one jar from oven and place on cooling rack.  Add plums to jar firmly but don’t press so hard the fruit skin breaks. When jar is about half full add spices if desired.  (1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise).  Leave an inch space at top of jar.  Using measuring cup, add boiling syrup to hot jar.  Leave an inch of space at top of jar.  Wipe jar top with a clean, wet cloth, put on hot lid, screw on ring, and set jar aside.

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