River Cottage Australia

Bruce's Award Winning Plum Jam Recipe

Bruce is a jam enthusiast to say the least. Here he fills us in on the secret to making a delicious jam or preserve.

Bruce has won many awards including the champion fruit and champion jam top prize at the Bega Show. His plum jam in particular has also earned him champion at the show. Bruce reckons that he can turn just about anything into a jam or a preserve. However, the secret to his jam making success comes down to a very simple philosophy. Don’t take it seriously: fun and a little irreverence adds flavour.

Brief history of jam

The origin of jams and preserves making is a little sketchy and there is much debate to when and where it all started. That said many scholars believe that jam making started centuries ago in Middle Eastern countries, where sugar grows naturally.

It is then thought that returning crusaders introduced jam to Europe in the late middle ages. Marcus Gavius Apicius, the famous Roman gourmet who lived sometime in the first century AD, had included recipes on fruit preserves. It is thought that a physician to Mary Queen of Scots created marmalade in 1561. The first books on jam making were published in the 17th century.

Bruce’s Award Winning Plum Jam Recipe


2kg plums
225ml lemon juice
1 ½ kgs sugar
1 litre of water


1. Pick your plums or buy your plums fresh.

2. Weigh and wash your plums.

3. Chop up the plums and reserve the seeds on a side plate. You want to reserve the seeds as the seeds contain pectin, which is needed to get the set of the jam correct.

4. If you’re squeezing fresh lemons for your lemon juice, reserve your seeds on the side as well.

5. Put the pieces of sliced plum into a large cooking pot.

6. Place the stones and seeds into a muslin cloth or a muslin bag and tie it up with a piece of string. Put the bag into the pot of sliced plums.

7. Add the water.

8. Put the pot onto the stove at a high flame at first, and then reduce to simmer for about 50-60 minutes.

9. Leave the pot covered for about 30 minutes and then take the lid off to help reduce it down. Let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

10. Then remove the muslin bag and add the lemon juice stirring it in well.

11. After this, bring the mixture up to boil and then add the sugar. Stir regularly as you don’t want the sugar to burn. You want the sugar to dissolve fully and then you want to bring it back down to a low boil for another 45 minutes.

12. Sometimes you might get a little bit of scum coming to the top. If this happens get a teaspoon and skim around the top and lift it off onto a small plate.

13. It is then important to conduct a setting test. Get a cold plate and pour a little jam onto the plate and then let it chill. Then push the jam with your finger and if it is wrinkling and jelling up- then you have a good jam!

14. When it is all ready to go, poor it off into jars and put the lids on while it is still hot to get a good seal.

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