Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker

We were suspicious that our plum tree would not bear fruit this year, so last year I made enough plum jam to get us through two seasons. So when I was surprised by another bumper crop of plums, I had to think of a way to use them up. This recipe for blueberry butter inspired me to try to work up a plum butter.

When I was in college, I once had the great idea to make apple butter for cheap Christmas presents. It was a disaster. I had to move out of that apartment to avoid the splattery mess that I had made. Scarred from that experience, I was naturally intrigued by the idea of making fruit butters in a slow cooker instead of on the stovetop. There’s a lot of interesting suggestions out there, but I couldn’t find one for plum butter. I looked around, read a few different sources, and decided to come up with my own recipe. Using advice from Stocking Up on the processing part, I feel happy enough with the results that I’ll probably never make plum jam again. My plum butter is thick and spunky. I have been enjoying it on toast alone or mixed with fromage blanc.

Makes 4 cups of plum butter.

about 3 1/2 pounds of plums
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Wash plums, cut into halves, and pit. My plums were rather small. If you have large ones, you might want to quarter them, but I don’t think that it will matter in the end.
  2. Place the sugar and plums in your slow cooker. Stir. Leave this mixture to cook for 16 hours. Stir whenever you think of it. I began my butter about 7pm. I stirred it a few times and then left it unattended overnight.
  3. Add vanilla. Based on advice in Stocking Up, flavorings for fruit butters should be added at the end. Cinnamon might be a nice pairing here, but I decided mine was potent enough without it.
  4. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes. For canning advice, go here.
  5. Remove jars to a flat rack to cool.

Recipe update (7/13):
I made this recipe this year with beautiful, juicy yellow plums. Because they were so wet, I found that cracking the crockpot lid open was essential. Lay a wooden spoon across one side to create a little vent for the moisture to escape. I also found that it took almost exactly 24 hours to cook down. I stirred often towards the end of the time. The plums were clingstone, so the pits were a little more difficult to deal with. I skimmed them out after it had cooked down a bit and wound up putting it through the food mill. I did this and let it cook for about an hour more. This was a lot more fussier than the original recipe, but had great results. Many thanks to all the commentors below who shared their experiments. 

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78 thoughts on “Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker

  1. I found your recipe and I’m doing it. Did you have to blend up your jam at all to get the skin broken up? My stuff is looking real thin and liquidy. I’m at about 10 hours. I want to make sure I’m doing it right… It does smell good. I want to make sure it doesn’t burn either… Thanks so much!

  2. If you’ve got it in the slow-cooker, Cecilia, keep cooking it until it’s the consistency you want. Try propping the lid open by placing two wooden spoons on the top of your pot, then replacing the lid. This will let some of the moisture out. If it’s on the stove, do be careful of burning.

    If your skins are tougher, go ahead and whir it around with an immersion blender (or do a tricky food processor dance) and then put it back in the pot to finish cooking. Maybe that will help the consistency balance out.

    Yikes. Plum butter emergency. Hope it works out for you! Keep me posted. :)

  3. it tastes super yummy, got to a pretty good consistency. thanks for the advice. it is now canning time! thanks again! i love it.

  4. I just don’t make things like Plum Butter and found myself with about 20 lbs of plums. So, I Googled Plum Butter & I read your recipe & instructions. Easy enough, I have a slow cooker….when I got it out…oh no..it was a Crock Pot…what was the difference..so I Googled ‘Slow cooker vs crock pot’. No problem…After 16 hrs. it wa REAL watery. I checked your instructions and saw the questions below and saw what to do. I lifted the lid a bit and used an immursion blender to thicken it. It worked, all of it work. I want to make more…i just need to get more jars.
    Thanks so much…life is easy

  5. Do you leave the skins on? Do they just cook into nothingness? I see no instructions to run through a food mill or remove the skins so I imagine they just go away? No spices, as in apple butter? I have a tree full of plums ready for something . . . .
    Cathie

  6. How much headspace did you leave on the jars? It seems 1/4″ is common to fruit butter recipes I’ve seen…
    I’m looking forward to making this, I’ve got about 6 lbs. of plums in my kitchen right now…
    Barb

  7. Hi

    Have done everything as above, I’m now at about 18 hours and even when put in the fridge, it’s still not setting like jam. Should it?

    Gill

  8. Mine’s been in 24 hours now and it’s getting there. I left it on Low overnight and while I was at work, then turned the heat setting to High and propped the lid open when I got home, and it’s thickening up nicely. Hope yours got there in the end, Gill!

  9. I am giving this method a try but looking at the photo it looks like you may have Santa Rosa type plums– I have Italian prune species that were late this year due to the cool summer in BC. Does it make any difference ?

  10. I was given a bag of prunes and was going to give them all away …until I spotted your recipe… will try it. Thanks Donna, also from B.C.

  11. If you use Italian prune type plum that does not have any juice unlike the Japansese plums, how do you bring it to boil without any sugar?

  12. we have always used italian plums and they work just fine! another of our favorite recipes can be found on allrecipes.com – plum clafouti! try it out too! also halving the plums, pulling out the pit, and freezing on a “pammed” cookie sheet….once frozen, place in ziploc bags for the winter!

  13. thank you so much for your help…..i had plums plus plums .i needed to know what to do with them si i googled plums and got you…thanks… i also used damson plums fro b.c.and apples as well .i am in alberta and found out that sea levels make a difference. i have to cook my apples butter in the slow cooker 18 hours and longer but it tastes great…today i have 2 slow cookers nwith plum butter and tomorrow i will try apple and ripe banana butter …wish me luck!!!!!

  14. I did this yesterday- put the plums on at 10am, stirred every hour or so until 6pm, and then left the house until 10pm… and came back to a burnt mess. I don’t suggest leaving this unattended for long. Cleaning this out of the ceramic insert is proving to be a nightmare!

  15. can these be stored in the fridge for a long time or do they need to be frozen? or can they be stored on the shelf… someone told me if you can/jar it while it’s hot and put the lid on that it will seal itself but not sure if it can go on the shelf, stay in the fridge or has to go in the freezer? HELP please!

  16. Give it a try, Meredith. If you are including juice in the slow cooker, you’ll probably need to cook it a lot longer. Lay a wooden spoon across the top, using it to prop open the lid a little bit and let steam escape.

  17. Question: How many jars of butter does this recipe make? What size jars did you use? I just want to make sure I have the right stuff on hand so I can can some. My plum tree has gone crazy this year!

  18. Has anyone tried the cooking process in a pressure cooker? We love our pressure cooker for doing everything the crock pot does, only faster. “Faster” doesn’t work with all recipes though. Thanks for any feedback!

  19. Oh, and… has anyone tried any other flavoring agents? When I make my compotes (cherry, peach, etc) I typically add a bit of lemon juice or zest. Would the acid in the lemon interfere with the thickening?

  20. I used the dense, purple Italian plums. Give it a try. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. You may just have to let it cook longer to evaporate extra moisture. Keep the skin. All you need to do to prepare the plums is wash, cut in half, and pop the pit out.

  21. Thanks for the recipe and the tips in the comment section. I used about 1 3/4 lb of shiso japanese plums and 3/4 cup of raw sugar. It took 18 hours in the slow cooker for me. I also turned the heat up towards the end and cracked the lid open to let the steam out. I added 2 t vanilla and blended it. It was the perfect thick consistency. It made about 1 cup of jam.

  22. I made apple butter this way last year (same ingredients except apples instead of plums) and was able to freeze it without the hot bath… would that be possible with this recipe?

  23. Just tried the plum butter recipe … Omg, so good!! I have made 2 batches already, and have 24 1/2 pints! Cooked mine in slow cooker, and once I had them really cooked down, used a stick blender to smooth plums out. Once I had that done, I was anxious to start canning, so I boiled it down some more on the stovetop till it got nice & thick. Worked really well, and tasted so yummy! Thanks for the great idea & yummy recipe!

  24. Hi there — This looks great and I have tons of plums to process (Italian). But what about adding lemon juice to acidify the fruit before canning? These would make great Holiday presents … just want to make sure it’s safe to give away :-))

    • Funny you should ask. Ive since moved from my plum tree and recently snapped up a jar of this from a family member who had stashed it. It was two years old and was still great. I didn’t add lemon but give it a try. Consider how pungent your plums are.

      • Thanks — that’s helpful! I asked because the link to the canning info (a web site I consult frequently) says to add it. But — of course — their guidelines are quite strict. Wish I could ask my mom how she used to do it! :-)

  25. I had good success with this, thanks. The plums I had were very ripe right off the tree, so put off a lot of liquid. It took essentially two full days, but eventually turned out just fine (I did cock the lid to allow for evaporation). Added a bit of fresh-ground cinnamon as well.

    Now, my question to everyone is, what’s your favorite thing to do with it?

      • Thank you for the tip! :) I was thinking about maybe baking with it a little, like people do with Applesauce or Apple Butter. Has anyone given that a try? I saw some references to using it in dark things, like spice cakes or chocolate cakes, not much in the way of reviews.

  26. This is easy and the very good. Actually fool proof. I don’t think you can mess this up. Being very fond of plum butter, we went to a local orchard and bought a box of plums. They are an Italian plum and I think they were called President. It was more than enough to make 4 batches. We used about 4 lbs per batch, that was about 30 plums or about 14-15 cups of pitted and quartered plums. We preferred the taste of the finished butter without the vanilla.

    A couple of observations. I put the mix through a blender at various stages of cooking. Very late in the process, 15 hours of cooking, it turned out silky and a dark brown. Early in the process, 6 hours of cooking, more red and with more texture. All tasted excellent and spread nicely on toast.

    The hardest part was knowing when to stop cooking. One hint I got was to place a small spoon full on a chilled plate. If liquid seeped out around the mass, keep on cooking. This seemed to work for me.

    Thank you for this recipe. With about 36 jars of Plum Butter our neighbors will get Plum Butter and a loaf of sourdough bread instead of a cookie plate for Christmas.

  27. I just turned on the crock pot; I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I’ve never had a fruit butter, but I had three pounds of plums that got lost in the fridge. I couldn’t bring myself to let them go to waste, so I went “Googling” and found myself here. Thanks for the recipe, and for all the tips on it!

    • I could be mistaken, but I think the primary difference is the omission of the pection or other gelling agent that you would normally see in a jam or jelly, just like with a fruit curd, you’ll see eggs and fruit zest. I believe a true fruit butter doesn’t even have added sugar, although again I’m no expert. I’m not a plum lover, per se, but this worked well. I would love to try the blueberry one!

  28. According to Stocking Up, a fruit butter thickens naturally by cooking down. They are more imprecise than jellies, as you can cook them to taste and not worry about timing and setting up. If fruit is ripe, no sweetener (sugar or honey) may be needed.

    Jams and jellies are both “jellied products,” meaning they must reach a certain temperature to come together. Jellies are “made from fruit juice squeezed from the fruit…it is clear or translucent.” Jams are “purees made with fruit; they are thick, but not as firm as jellies.” (And in case you’re wondering, preserves are made with bits of fruit and conserves are made with both fresh and dried fruit. Both are cooked until translucent and have added sweetener.)

  29. “Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker | Small Potatoes” ugggbootsoutlet was in fact actually enjoyable and beneficial!
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  30. Love this recipe. Made it this past summer with great results. I will be dusting it off again soon as I had to freeze some of the plums, as there were so many. Also, mentioning in an upcoming blog post on roast duck. Thanks!

  31. Pingback: You can bánh tráng anything: Exhibit Two Roast Duck | Odds & Hens

  32. Tried twice with poor results. First time I left pits in and it was bitter tasting. So thinking it was the pits (literally) I tried again by omitting the pits. The results were the same. The best description, awful.
    Disappointed.

      • I’m sorry that happened to you. I had this happen to a neighbor who was using the very same plums that I had. I had success this summer and hers were scorched. I’m wondering if crockpots have very different degrees of “low.” My only recommendation is to keep an eye on it and check periodically.

  33. Any thoughts on if this would work with yellow plums? Or would I need to add more sugar or go with a different recipe altogether?

    • I’ll let you know. I’ll be trying it with yellow plums in the coming week. I don’t think I’ll add more sugar, but then my plums are really sweet.

  34. Pingback: Plum Honey Preserves | Small Potatoes

  35. We just made this tonight with Italian prunes/plums. My son and I added cinnamon, cloves. and bourbon vanilla. It only took 10 hours to cook up but it was also a dry 90 degrees outside today. It was wonderful thank-you!
    Jessikah

  36. I have already processed my plums into a puree with just a little water added to keep them from scorching. I had to do “something” with them to keep from losing them. Can I still use them for butter?

  37. well I came from Germany and the name for Plum Butter is “Pflaumenmus” Google this hit the translation button and bingo you will find so many recipes, also Pflaumenkuchen…will show you all the yummy plum cakes….oh how I miss them …Good Luck

  38. I was cleaning out my freezer this weekend and noticed that I had sevarel packs of prunes in there. Do you think I could use prunes in place of fresh plums? My family teases me for the crazy things I freeze and how I try be creative in the kitchen.
    I have not made jelly or jams as an adult but am getting my stuff ready to give it a try. Thank you for your help

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