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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes. For canning advice, go here.
- 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.
102 Comments Add yours
Did you cook it on the low or high setting?
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!
Could you use brown sugar in place of white?
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. :)
it tastes super yummy, got to a pretty good consistency. thanks for the advice. it is now canning time! thanks again! i love it.
Whew. :) Glad it worked out. Now, make some crumpets. ;)
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
Hi – about to try this
what does Process in a hot water bath mean please?
A hot water bath is a method of canning that will seal the jars by plunging them into boiling water.
This has basic canning instructions to get you started. Look at ‘General Information’ and ‘Using Boiling Water Canners.’
Good luck! :)
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 . . . .
Yes everything just goes in. Pits float to top. Skins disappear.
Pits don’t really float to the top, you have to hunt for them. I pour everything through a strainer and carefully picked out the pits so my immersion blender wouldn’t get ruined. Wish I had just thrown the pits out in the beginning. It would have been less labor intensive.
Also I found the taste to be between plum and prune. Not the clear taste you get in jam. Good though.
I am so excited to find this recipe! I have about 4 kilos of plums, and I was at a loss as to what to do with them. Will be doing this tonight! Thank you!
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…
1/4 space should work just fine. Enjoy!
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?
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!
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 ?
Italian type plums won’t need as much cooking time as they aren’t as watery.
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.
Is it possible to make plum butter from Italian plums without adding the sugar? Thanks, Sharon from Vashon Island.
Here’s what the NCHFP says about jams without sugar. They’re a reliable source that you can trust.
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?
Imeant without any liquid!
Once it heats up, the natural juices should start coming out.
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!
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!!!!!
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!
On high or what? I’ve had mine on high now for 8 hours with no burning. I also have a full pot, not a single batch, so it will take longer to cook down.
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!
what do you think of my using Italian plums I canned last fpartying part of the juice to begin
I mean using part of the juice to begin.
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.
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!
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!
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?
Lemon does nor hurt a thing it actually helps insome juices
Anne, Did you use the juicy Japanese type plums or the purple European type plums? Will it work with the japanese plums? If so, do you keep the skin or peel them?
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.
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.
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?
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!
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! :-)
Question – Can this be frozen instead of sealed?
Sure! Give it a try. It’s pretty powerful stuff, so I’d recommend small portions.
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?
It is great on sourdough pancakes or sourdough toast. The tangy sourdough and the plum are a great combo.
Oh, and I added a touch of lemon juice, also. :)
Scones! They are hearty enough to contrast with the tang of the plums.
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.
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.
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!
Would love it if you would post a link for the blueberry butter…… that sounds super yummy…. thanks
Why do you call it plum “butter” Surely it’s just jam?
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!
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.)
“Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker | Small Potatoes” ugggbootsoutlet was in fact actually enjoyable and beneficial!
In todays society that is tough to carry out.
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!
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.
same results here. I wasted a lot of plums!
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.
Just made this recipe except used a pot on the stove. It was fantastic!!!
Hooray! Glad you liked it!
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.
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!
Mine turned out bitter and burnt tasting. The original plums were ripe and delicious. What could have happened?
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?
Certainly. If you have a texture that you find pleasing, that’s all that matters.
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
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I used a mixture of Italian prune plums and red pears, and it worked beautifully. I did pit the plums before cooking down, though I didn’t peel the pears.
I found your recipe and I’m doing it. Thank you!
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
Well, I couldn’t really say, except that both th
just used your recipe. slow cooker is great idea! it came out a little liquidy but it’s in the frig now and will cook again on stove top to see I I can thicken it. I added 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp spiced rum! OMG! delicious! now if I can thicken it PERFECT! thank you for posting. :)
I’ve used mirabelle plums (which are yellow) as someone gave me a whole carrier bag full! 6 hours into cooking and it tastes quite sour…will it ever sweeten? Currently leaving it overnight so I’ll see what happens on the morning…otherwise I’m stuck as to what to do…(first time fruit butter attempt)
Update, further cooking, adding more sugar, still turned out to be an utter failure :( super, super sour, like eating lemon (but a lot worse)…very unpleasant indeed…ended up straight in the bin…tried making a plum jam on the stove with the remainder bag of plums, still sour but turned out a lot better than the butter…sadly not good enough to hand out to people though….bit embarrassing really lol
First, yum! OK – so I have technical experience with canning but no practical experience. Meaning, I know the info inside and out (16 years of clerking for the canned foods division at my county fair), I’ve just never actually canned. I have read some comments here and I have to ask people to PKEASE process your jars properly. Don’t put hot liquid in them and expect them to seal properly because you could make yourself exceptionally sick! As far as having watery butter, try using 1/4 slightly under ripe plums, and 3/4 ripe plums. The under ripe plums have more pectin in them and they will help firm up your product. Make sure you run a butter knife or the like around the inside edges of the jar to help release air bubbles. Air bubbles can cause food spoilage.
Just processed 75-ish pounds of plums in the steam juicer. Keep adding, keep draining the juice and canning. After a 14quarts of juice had been extracted, I took all the pulp, and put it through the food processor. It wizzed down to about 5.5 quarts in the croc pot. All ready to go for canning. Just need to heat a bit. Perfect consistency, perfect sweetness. Just plums.
I tried your plum butter recipe and used brown sugar bc I was out of white. I worked marvelously!! I did the 20 hours and vented. I had it on toast this morning and it was divine!!!! I can’t wait to try this method with other fruits!
Can you add pectin to this to help thicken it? I’ve had mine in the crockpot overnight. There is still a lot of moisture. Turned it on high and vented to see if that’ll help.
I’m making it right now! Hope it’s good!
Thanks for all of the tips!!😉 good bi👋🏼
I just made this. I put it in a crackpot with the lid cracked on high temp for about 12 hours, then turned it to warm and went to bed. When I woke up I turned it back up to high and cracked the lid. I added a cinnamon stick in the beginning and let it simmer throughout. At the end I added a little nutmeg, ginger (powder), and clove. The flavor of this is good but it is too sweet for me, as most jams are. I was hoping that a butter would be less sweet but it’s definitely not.
1 cinnamon stick and 10 cloves, can be made with no sugar at all if your plums are sweet.
I have lots of yellow Mirabelle Plums every year that I cook down and use to make Yellow Plum Pepper Jelly. I’m going to try this plum butter this year but am going to start with the cooked down plums (skins and pits removed via a colander) I’ll increase the sugar since my plums are very tart nd I’ll spice it up – like another reader suggested – with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder and clove. Maybe Chinese Five Spice?
So delicious! Cooked for 20 hours then immersion blend. Added a couple of dried hot chili peppers without the seeds at start of cooking. Amazing flavor for over brie cheese, pork, anything really😆
What can I do to maintain the pretty plum color? My plum butter looks more like chocolate pudding. Tastes good though.
I made this and it came out wonderful. Did a mixture of white sugar and brown. Also added cinnamon. I put everything in the blender instead of using a food mill. It came out smooth and delicious
Easy to make. I added some cinnamon too. Consistency was loose. Taste was a bit disappointing (baby food?) and color was dark. Won’t make again.