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Best plums for jelly

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Some of the cookbooks praise different kinds of plums for making jelly. The British seem to favor green gages, and the French the mirabelle. And the beach plums of the North Atlantic seaboard make exceptional jelly. My first effort at making jelly was with a small, apricot-colored plum bought at a roadside stand near Santa Fe, but I never knew its name. It had a wonderfully spicy flavor, and I got all of two pints out of my haul. Do you have any favorite jelly or jam plums? Where do you usually get them?

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  1. Wild Sand Plums. Growing naturally in a ditch or fenceline along the road.

    1. It may seem mundane, but the Santa Rosa in my back yard produces (with my wife's assistance) a sweet, tart, jewel colored, intensely flavorful jam. My favorite on toast.

      1. for jams and jellies, the best of the california plums, to my taste anyway, is the elephant heart. red ace is another good one. terrific color and a really nice complex flavor.

        1. I use the prune plums. Lots of pectin.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sarah galvin

            this brings up a good point: to make a good jam or jelly, make sure you have a fair percentage of UNDERRIPE fruit. often at markets y ou'll see boxes set aside of overripe fruit that are marked as "jam and jelly". underripe fruit is far higher in pectin and will make a much better jell. i'm not aware that there is a significant varietal difference in pectin content, though there could well be.

            1. re: FED

              Aren't damsons supposed to be the plum of choice for jam?

              1. re: MarkC

                Think ANY plum would make delicious jam! However Damson is my favorite. Don't know where they could be purchased, except maybe from someone who has a tree. I also favor the Italian plum (prune plum); makes excellent jam!

                I have two Damson trees in my back yard, but making jelly/jam is intensive work. The plums are small and the pits must be removed (definitely not cling-free). When making the jam I followed the recipe given in the Sure-Jell package. Lots of work, but well worth it ! When you can find Damson Jam in the stores it is usually more expensive than others on the shelf. Makes a wonderful filling for a jelly roll !

                1. re: Lisbet

                  My mother used to make a big batch of Damson plum preserves every year. She got them at the Honey Pot Orchard in Stow, Mass. It seemed like we stood over that pot for hours, stirring and scooping out the pits when they freed themselves from the fruit. The skins got to stay...

                  We have planted a tree in the back yard too. This year all the fruit fell off. :(

          2. Thanks, everyone, I think we'll be looking at plant catalogues. To my surprise, even the wild plum varieties are available from specialty nurseries.