Plum Butter

We have a Santa Rosa plum tree in our backyard that my husband planted about 20 years ago. He loves eating these bitter skinned fruits just picked off the tree, but I don’t like them raw.  I guess my tongue just tastes more of the bitterness in the peel than his.  Because of this, every year a lot of the fruit falls on the ground and makes a horrible, slimy, fruit fly, snail and slug attracting mess.

I will say, however, that the Santa Rosa plum makes great cobblers!  But what a hassle it is to get the pit out of a ripe plum without absolutely mascerating it!  I will be honest and say that I have two left thumbs when it comes to using a knife in the kitchen, and have cut myself several times trying to get those stubborn pits out of the plums.   🙁

That is why I love this technique/recipe so much for plum butter!  No peeling or seeding!  Seriously!  The plums peel and seed themselves!

Let me show you:

Making and canning plum butter First gather up a pot full of plums.  How many?  However many you want!  There is no recipe!  Isn’t that grand?  But, it is very important that you know exactly how many plums you put in the pot.  Write it down.  Why?  I’ll tell you in a little bit. Of course, make sure you wash them first to get any dust or insects off.  I also don’t recommend using bird or insect damaged fruit, unless you don’t mind a little extra worm protein in your plum butter!  But here is a great place to use some of that fruit that is just a bit over-ripe. Not mushy or moldy, however!

Now add just a little bit of water at the bottom of your pot, probably, lets say, 1/2 cup.  This is just to get the whole cooking process started without first scorching the plums.  Turn on the stove to medium low.  You need to start slow.  After a few minutes, stir the plums from the bottom up to the top.  You will see that some of them have started to get really mushy and loose some of their juice.   Santa Rosa Plum Butter Keep doing this about every 5 minutes.  Make sure the plums aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot and are not scorching.  There is nothing worse than scorched plum butter.

Once most of the plums are really mushy, get out your potato masher.  Yes, your potato masher.  Seriously!  Mash your plums.  This gets the whole process going faster.  By now you will see some of those purple skins floating around.  Fish them out – the plums are peeling themselves!  You can leave for a few minutes, then come back and stir  Santa Rosa Plum Butter(remember you don’t want it to scorch!), fish out a few more skins, then stir again.

By this time – about 1/2 hour into the process (more or less) depending on how many plums you have and how ripe they were to begin with, you will notice little lumps come up from the bottom as you stir.  These are the pits.  Fish them out!  Now, here is why you counted the number of plums you started with – every plum has a pit.  If you know how many plums you started with, you know you have all the pits when you reach that same number!  Simple!   😀

Now, here comes a step you can do if you want to, but you don’t have to:  once all the pits are out you can pour the whole hot mess into your blender and blend for a few seconds.  This step isn’t necessary, but it does make a smoother butter in the end.

Santa Rosa Plum Butter At this point you can decide for yourself if you want to stand over a hot stove for the next 2-4 hours (depending on how many plums you started with an how ripe they were), or pour the whole pot into the crockpot and let it finish in there.  Your choice.  I am always looking for the easiest technique possible, so I choose the crockpot method.

If you leave it on the stove, be aware that you will need to stir the pot about every 10 minutes to prevent the butter from scorching.  As the butter gets thicker, you need to stir more often.  In the crockpot, set the temperature as low as possible, leave the top off or on the side, and stir about every 20-30 minutes.  Either way, what you are doing is thickening the plum pulp by evaporating off the water. How to make Plum Butter

How do you know it’s done?  When it is starts to get to a pancake batter consistency.  To check for doneness, plop a drop on a plate.  If the water does not separate out after a few minutes, it’s done!

Now you add sweetener.  Taste that plop you put on the plate first.  It shouldn’t be as hot as molten lava anymore, so you can actually taste it.  Do you really need sweetener?  If so, you can add either cane sugar, honey, stevia or brown sugar.  I think you can even use an articifical sweetener (gasp) but I certainly wouldn’t!  Add the sweetener to taste. Start with a little and add more if you need it.  Most people agree, however, that plum better is better when it is still slightly tart!  My pot full eventually cooked down to 3 pints of plum butter, so I added 1/2 cup of delicious Blackberry How to can Plum Butter Honey.  I thought it would go well with the plums, and it certainly did.  We got that honey (and a wildflower honey also) while we attended a workshop on beekeeping by Gerard Z’s Honeybees that was held at Retzlaff Winery in Livermore, California.  The workshop also included wine tasting. You can read about that HERE. Such a nice afternoon, but I reminisce…………..

At this point you are ready to jar your delicious plum butter, aka nectar of the gods.  Make sure it is still piping hot and ladle the butter carefully (try not to incorporate air pockets or bubbles) into jars that you have sterilized. Canning Homemade Plum Butter Place your hot lids on top and screw on the bands just finger tight if you are using Tattler lids (the white ones) and just a bit tighter with the metal lids. Process for 10 minutes for both pints and half-pints in a boiling water bath.

You’re done!  Just let them cool down naturally on your kitchen counter (I put a towel under the jars because I have a cold stone countertop – I don’t want the jars to shatter) where it isn’t too drafty.  When cooled, check the seals. If any jars didn’t seal properly, just put them in the refrigerator and eat those first!

My grand niece, Tierra, married the love of her life, Connor, this past June.  As part of the wedding decorations/gifts for guests, they gave out some cute canning jars that were decorated with ribbons and bows, a silver bell and a cute poem.  I decided to fill the one I got with some plum butter and give to the newlyweds!  Canning Plum Butter

I hope they like it!

Editor’s note:   For other ways to use plums, check out: Chinese Plum Sauce and also Canning Organic Plum Juice.


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81 thoughts on “Plum Butter

    • Good morning, Melissa! The plum butter really is quite good – even my picky youngest son liked it! It’s absolutely wonderful on hot biscuits or waffles! Thanks for visiting!

      • This is great info for people, but i have a step that will eliminate the need for any “fishing out” of skins OR pits…it’s called a food mill, stainless steel, about 25 bucks on amazon, a canning person’s DREAM!! Anywho, that’s my 2 cents…

        • Thanks for your two cents! I have used a food mill before and yes, they are great! If only I could find mine 🙁 Anyway, I appreciate your kind suggestion!

    • Grandma Kc,
      Thank you! Yes, it’s fun to give away stuff you make. The only problem is when I give away things I canned, I am going to want my jars back because they are so stinking expensive! I wonder – is it rude to ask for the jars back? Anyway, this was my jar to give back to Tierra and Connor as I got it from them on their wedding day! Those chocolate coins on your blog today are precious! I have never seen them before. I’m sure Amara will enjoy them, even if the image isn’t in the gold foil!

    • You are so welcome, Kris. Admittedly this is such an easy way to make plum butter. I think you can also make peach butter this way. At least I am going to try this in a few days – my son keeps bringing over more and more peaches! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

    • Good afternoon, Debra! Yes, you should try this. It’s so easy. Just be sure to check your crock pot once in a while and stir (if you use that method) because some can run a bit hotter than others. Let me know how yours turns out.

    • Thank you spirit of simplicity! I checked out your blog – I would like to take tea with mermaids also! Such a lovely and peaceful website!
      Yes – you should go to your farmer’s market and get some plums – this plum butter is really delicious!

  1. That looks delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe and your process for jarring the apple butter. I haven’t done any of that in years. My mother canned and made all our jellies, jams and apple butters when I was growing up. I really should try something again. It is so much better for you without all the chemicals that manufacturers add to their products.

    • Betty,
      You are so right – no artificial stuff or chemicals to worry about! Just fruit and honey – who couldn’t love that! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

    • Thank you, Liz. Hey, I looked at your website – great photos of your wedding – happy anniversary! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a nice comment.

    • That sounds like a country song! “I wish I had a plum tree, my heart is all a flutter, cause if I had a plum tree, I could make some plum butter!” Hahaha! Thanks, Pam.

    • Plum butter is so smooth and delicious with just a bit of tang. It’s great on peanut butter sandwiches, smothered over waffles or spread on a hot biscuit! I hope you try it. Thank you so much for the feature!

    • Hannah, yes, I do believe you could leave the skins in the plum butter, but it wouldn’t be as smooth and probably would be a lot more tart, thus needing more sweetener. Plum jam is just a bit different in that you usually add pectin and don’t have to cook it so long. All a fruit butter really is, is fruit pulp cooked down to get a lot of the water out. In fact, instead of canning the fruit butter, you could spread it out in a very thin layer on wax paper and let it dry – fruit leather! Thanks for your comment and for reading my blog!

    • Any size plum will do! This is actually a great way to process all those little ones without having to peel or pit! I hope you enjoy it Lisa!

    • Jacqueline,
      It is, indeed, amazing! You should make some apple butter – yes, yes!! I have seen several recipes out in the blogging world for apple butter that also use a crockpot! I may also be making some apple butter this fall, when my Granny Smith apples are ripe! Yum

    • Cinnamon plum butter sounds delicious! I think I will make some then dehydrate it down to fruit leather, especially since cinnamon is supposed to be so good for you! 😀 Congratulations on 100 editions – that’s quite a milestone!

  2. Wow, this looks amazing! I am usually at a loss of what to do with so many plums, so this would be perfect for me. On my way to pin for future use.

    Thanks for linking up to Natural Living Monday!

    • Good afternoon, Andrea. This is a really good solution to an over-abundance of plums! Then, if you have too much plum butter, make some into fruit leather!

    • My hubby loves it too! It’s not too sweet with just a bit of tangy tartness. You could make it a lot sweeter, but why? Thanks for stopping by to read my post! I slid on over to your site and love that black cookie sheet! I also love your anniversary pictures – 52 years – holy cow! Congratulations

  3. Jealous of your plum tree! haha Plums have become a new favorite fruit of mine. 🙂
    My mom has made apple butter, but I’ve never heard of plum butter. Thanks for sharing at the Healthy Tues hop!

    • You should see the poor tree. My hubby had to prop up it’s limbs (I think one broke) because it is so full of plums! Hubby loves to eat the plums right off the tree, but I can’t get past the sour skins, so I make butter!

    • That’s okay. Right now our farmer’s market is full of plums! They are fairly inexpensive also! But if you plant a tree this winter, you could be harvesting plums in a few years! 😀 Thanks for hosting!

  4. These plums look like what I know as prune plums. If that is what they are, I understand your reaction but I am with your hubs as I like to eat them raw. Canned or frozen, this would make addition to my winter supplies.
    Thanks so much.

    • Hello Paula! Actually, they are Santa Rosa plums – they are small because we didn’t have a chance to thin them this past spring! I like prune plums raw also because they are a bit sweeter than the Santa Rosa! Thanks for your comment!

    • Oh, I never thought to pair it with brie! Wow, that sounds great! Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for having such a great linky party!

  5. My sis has a plum tree and I do just love eating them right off the tree. She gives me a bag or two full every year. I am going to tell her about this delicious recipe. Sounds very yummy! Thanks for sharing it with SYC.

  6. Yum, I have never heard of plum butter! Dearest loves plums – I bet he’d really like this! Thanks for sharing your recipe and how-to! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

    • Oh, yum – persimmon butter! My mother-in-law used to make the best persimmon cookies! This sounds like an excellent solution to your wild persimmon conundrum! Please let me know how it turns out! Sorry it took so long to respond to your comment – I have been AWOL for a bit 😉

    • Oh Terry – your plum butter looks absolutely devine! Thanks for sharing the pictures. Will you be making apple (or pear) butter this fall? It’s just as easy and good!

  7. sound delish! thanks for sharing the instructions! I love that count them and I will tell you why later – thought maybe so much sweetner per plum and instead it’s to make sure you have all the pits. Yes I would be one of those thinking did I get them all?!? lol

    • Tee hee… of course, if you missed one, it wouldn’t be the end of the world! You would probably see it when you were pouring the butter into the jars, but, you never know!

  8. Yikes! I have WAY more liquid than will fit in my slow cooker from the 90 plums I picked from the tree – I followed your method including processing it in my blender till smooth – This first batch has been simmering for five hours with the lid propped open from the start – and has only gone down about 1/4 of an inch – it’s going to be a long process – I refrigerated the rest of the plum “juice” and am wondering – can it be frozen in its current state? I am thinking it will liquify even more upon thawing… is my best bet to borrow another slow cooker and keep at it? Thanks for the recipe!

    • Yes – keep at it! Of course, some plums have way more liquid in them than others, and the more liquid you have, the longer it will take to cook down. And – yes – freeze the pulp to use later! In fact, save it for a cold winter day. Not only will it heat up your kitchen a bit while you cook it down, but it will leave time NOW so you can do other things! Just make sure you get a good tight seal on whatever you freeze the pulp in – so there won’t be any off-flavors when it thaws. Thanks for letting me know you are making the plum butter, I’m glad I could help!

  9. OH NO – after more than 24 hours of watching the crock pot melt the plum pulp into a beautiful, dark “butter” – as a first time canner I JUST discovered my ceramic/glass cooktop is not recommended for canning! (I was just planning on using a stock pot since I don’t own a canner)

    Can the butter be put in Ziploc freezer containers? Should it be cool/cold when I put in the containers? Should it sit out on the counter to cool before putting in the fridge/freezer? How long will it keep in the fridge? Will it even freeze well?

    At 64 this is my first adventure in “putting up” and I don’t want all this time, energy and lovely butter to go to waste!

    Thanks in advance for help with these questions!

    • Yes, you are right – most glass cooktops are a no-no when it comes to pressure canning, not waterbath canning. The reason is the weight of the pressure canner plus all those jars might crack the glass on the cooktop. Water bath canning should be okay – it isn’t any heavier than having a large soup pot on top – I just wouldn’t process more than 6 or 7 jelly jars at a time just to be sure. Also, pressure canning gets up to 240 degrees or more, and this can do strange things to the glass cooktop. Water bath canning should be fine. That being said, yes, you can freeze the butter! You can just put them in the jelly or pint jars just like you would have been water bath processing, but leave a bit more headspace – like an inch or two – for expansion in the freezer. Congratulations on your first batch of plum butter! Does it taste good? What kind of plums did you use? Did you add a sweetener? How much did you end up with? 🙂

  10. Hi Vickie,
    Thanks for the continuing info & advice! I am not completely sure what variety of plums I had – they varied from dark purple to a reddish purple skin, and were all yellow fruit once cut open.

    I ended up with a good sized bowl of butter that has been sitting, covered in my fridge for three days – I am pleased with how it turned out – it is a beautiful, dark purple, sweetened with half a jar of blackberry honey that had been sitting in my pantry from an impulse purchase at a farm stand months ago! I also had enough pulp left over to freeze six quart bags of pulp to cook down later this winter 🙂

    Now I am at a point at which I must do something with the completed butter – but since it is now cold, can it be water bath processed?

    I have quart sized freezer bags and and assortment of commercial jars and lids plus four Ball pint jars, lids and screw tops left over from the freezer jam I made from the first baths of plums!

    Should I use a layer of parafin before freezing if I use the assorted jars & lids from my stash? I would assume that the lids from commercial jam would not be air tight seals anymore, having been used day in and day out.

    Thank you for “listening” to my questions, and I look forward to hearing from you. I am so glad to have found your recipe!

    • Sure – you can water bath can it, but I would heat it up to a simmer for a few minutes first since it has been sitting in your fridge for a few days. Be sure to stir it constantly while it heats up because if it is really thick you don’t want to burn it! Besides, to water bath can the butter it would be easier to put hot butter into hot jars with hot lids and rings, into a hot water bath canner! Did you hear hot? Never, ever put a cold jar in hot boiling water, or a hot jar into cold water. The result is usually shattered glass and wasted food. Of course, if you want to freeze the butter, that might be easier at this point. Don’t bother with the parafin because it would probably shrink up when it gets frozen anyway. I would just put the butter into your jars, heat the lids to get the rubber stuff soft again, then put them on the jar and screw on the bands. You can’t use those lids twice for canning, but I think they make perfectly good seals the second time around in the freezer. Of course, I’m not an expert, but this is how I have done it in the past and I haven’t killed anyone yet! 😉 Have a great weekend, Val!

  11. One final note on the plum butter:
    (until the pears I’m being given arrive tomorrow!)
    1. After sitting in the fridge for a few days, it was a bit thinner than it had been, but I didn’t mind. Commercial Apple butter is often thinner than what I ended up with 🙂
    2. I washed the half pint jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water, rinsed them in REALLY hot water and the jars were mostly air dry by the time the butter was warmish, and the lids were simmering on the stove.
    3. I filled them to the edge of where the quilting meets the threads, leaving quite a bit of expansion room. I hand tightened the bands.
    4. They are siting on my kitchen table on a towel, and some of them have made the sealing “pop” sound. Is that due to how tight the band has been screwed on? Will that be a problem if they all don’t? I’m planning on leaving them out till about 9AM (Pacific) then will freeze them.
    I ended up with 9 half pints from this batch, 8 to freeze and one that I put in the fridge – to taste tomorrow on toast 🙂 — and I have 6 quart bags of pulp already in the freezer in the garage for the next batch 🙂
    Thanks again !
    PS. The basic water bath canner I saw at wal-mart said “do not use on glass cooktops!” >..<

    • Sounds like you did a great job! The pop or “ping” noise you heard was the jar lid sealing. It’s not a good seal, however, unless you use a water bath or pressure canner. It used to be that you could just invert a jar with hot contents and let it seal that way, but apparently this didn’t kill all of the bad microbes that could be in the food, so this method is no longer recommended. But, since you are putting them in the freezer anyway, that’s just moot point! Refer to the manufacturer of your glass cooktop – some say canning is okay – some don’t. Mine says that pressure canning and water bath canning are okay, but could discolor the glass and there is also a weight limit. Also, the possibility of scratching the glass is always a concern. So, if your glass cooktop is okay to can on, make sure you follow all their weight limits, etc., or you could invalidate the warranty. Good luck with your pears! You might try mixing the plums with some of the pears – add some cinnamon and/or cardamom and have a wonderful spicy pear and plum butter!

  12. I’m a 70 year old man and canning good things is my hobby..I have won bunches of grand champion ribbons at our county fair for my jams, jellies and seedless salsa. Your plum butter recipe won me another one this year. I enter the adult open class series at the fair and i have been told that I’m the only man to ever enter canned goods there I’m also making a lot of ladies mad because i beat them. So, thank you very much for sharing your tips with all who can good things.

    • Congratulations, Robin! I am so glad to hear that the crock pot plum butter was a winner for you! As far as men getting into canning, I think I am slowly enticing my husband to help out more and more because he is really enjoying the foods that I have canned. Thank you so much for letting me know about your success, Robin. It makes me feel good that I could help someone out. 😀

  13. I am so delighted to have come across your recipe, just got a huge basket of plums from a friend and am going to make them into yummy plum butter instead of jam. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    • I know – plum season is the best! 🙂 We will be planting a pluot this winter in our orchard. It’s a cross between a plum and an apricot. My son has one of these trees and the fruit is absolutely delicious, so I can’t wait to try this recipe with pluots!

      I just harvested the last of my potatoes this morning – can’t wait to try your recipe of sweet sausages with red potatoes! Yum!

  14. In WA we have so much fire this summer so we welcomed a rain and wind storm today. That said, the Italian plum tree fractured and we have more plums than raindrops. Thanks for the tips!

    • Oh Dorothy – I feel for you – And I know exactly how you feel! Here in California our drought has been pretty bad and we are having horrible fires also! The air quality has been pretty bad. Luckily, we have had kinder weather these past few days, and the next week looks fantastic – high 80’s and low 90’s. I hope you have fun making the plum butter – it’s absolutely fantastic!

  15. A few years ago I bought a plum pitter from Amazon, what a great tool, it does one plum at a time, and is hard to use on unrepentant plums, but with that handy little tool I can do a whole basket of plums in about 15 min. I got one for my neighbor this year and he is delighted with it, he has lots of plum trees too!

  16. I hate it when the iPad kicks in a word I don’t want, and even worse when I don’t notice until later, unrepentant plums would be interesting, something you shouldn’t pick on Sunday I guess. That was suppose to be unripe plums! Making some plum butter today! Along with pear pickles and gingered pear preserves. Thanks for the recipe!

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