Recreating Oma’s Plum Jam

My Oma (German for Grandmother) was a wonderful lady. She emigrated to New York in 1953 when my mom was very young and the details of her life fascinate me. Oma didn’t speak much about her personal life because it was typical for a German woman of her generation to keep that part of her life very private. However, she was always happy and very  generous with hugs, kisses and tasty food. She passed away when I was a sophomore in High School and I still miss her terribly. My mom always says that I remind her of Oma and I think I learned from her a passion for cooking good food and the joy of entertaining.

My Opa passed away before I was born and my Oma lived as a widow from 1977-1994. By the time I was in elementary school, my Oma was living in a white 2-story home in Waterloo, Ontario and we visited her every summer. While we were in town, she would invite her Candian friends (all of German descent) over and have a big dinner party. My brother and I helped gather fresh herbs from her garden and helped bring in the cloth tablecloths drying on the line in the backyard in preparation for the dinner party. She made amazing roasts, potato salad and delicious desserts. She adorned her table with beautiful tablecloths and her best China. Since we were kids and couldn’t understand a lick of German anyway, we ate our food upstairs and watched Canadian television (usually the highly inappropriate for kids our age, “Kids in the Hall”) while the adults dined in the large finished basement.

One of my most memorable food memories from my Oma is the breakfast she made for us. Every morning she would walk (she never had a driver’s license) to the corner store and get a fresh loaf of crusty bread. This corner store also had an amazing selection of penny and nickel candy, score! She would serve the bread with softened sweet cream butter and her plum jam. The jam was a rich dark purple and was the tastiest stuff on earth. My Oma never used recipes, so unfortunately I do not have her original recipe.

A few weeks ago I saw a recipe for homemade plum jam on Holly’s blog and I was excited with the possibility of recreating my Oma’s plum jam. I was downright giddy when I picked up 2 lbs. of ripe red plums and teetering between bliss and insanity as the chopped plums cooked into a thick and delicious jam. Oh boy is this stuff good. It is the perfect mix of sweet and tart. I will be trying the next batch with prune plums because I think that is the variety she used, but the red plums were very, very good.

Recipe: Easy Plum Jam

From Holly of Phe/MOM/enon

2 lbs. firm ripe plums (red, black or prune) halved and pitted (unpeeled)

1/2 C. sugar

1/2 C. water

1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick or 1/2 t. ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Coarsely chop plums and stir together with sugar, water and cinnamon in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.

2. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally (more often toward the end of cooking to prevent sticking), until thick and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Discard cinnamon stick and cool preserves. Transfer to an airtight container* and chill, covered. Preserves keep 1 month in the refrigerator. You can also follow through with the complete canning process.

*I used Ball pint-sized jars and it filled 1 and 1/4 jars, but they worked perfectly. Before adding the plums to the pot, I filled it with water, brought the water to a boil and sterilized the jars and lids in the water for 15 minutes. Transfer to a towel to dry, then discard the water and proceed with the plum jam ingredients.

THEN, I went on Twitter to thank Holly for sharing this lovely recipe and she proceeds to tell me that she has a Jam Crumb Cake recipe that I just had to try. Of course, I agreed that I HAD to try it and made the cake that weekend. Sure enough, amazing. The fresh jam peaks through the soft cake and the crumb topping adds the perfect amount of sweetness without being too sweet.

Recipe: Brown Sugar Plum Crumb Cake

From Holly of Phe/MOM/enon

Makes 1 – 9″ cake


1 C. all-purpose flour

1/4 C. granulated sugar

1/4 C. packed brown sugar

1 3/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/2 C. milk

1 large egg

1 t. pure vanilla or almond extract

1/2 C. homemade plum jam

Crumb topping:

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/4 C. granulated sugar

1/4 C. packed brown sugar

3/4 t. cinnamon

1/8 t. salt

1 C. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the middle. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan.

2. Whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together butter, milk, vanilla and egg in a large bowl and then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

3. Pour batter into cake pan. Dollop jam by the spoonful all over the cake batter and then swirl into batter with the spoon.

4. Using the same medium bowl you used for the dry ingredients in the cake, whisk together butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Stir in flour and then blend with your fingertips until incorporated. Sprinkle crumbs in large clumps over top of the cake.

5. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and sides begin to pull away from pan, about 25-35 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack until completely cool.

And because I can’t keep well enough alone, I decided to try out a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for the Best Drop Biscuits with visions of this beautiful jam glistening on a warm biscuit, mmmm. The biscuits were tasty, but I unfortunately messed up the recipe. I halved the ingredients appropriately to make half a batch, but forgot to cut the butter quantity in half, oops! They were buttery and still delicious, but it probably affected the overall shape. In the end, it reminded me of a buttery jam thumbprint cookie.

Recipe: Best Drop Biscuits

From America’s Test Kitchen

Makes 12 biscuits

2 C. (10 oz.) unbleached all-purpose four

2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. sugar

3/4 t. salt

1 C. cold buttermilk

8 T. butter, melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes) plus 2 T. butter for brushing the tops of the biscuits

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees F. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 T. melted butter in a medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.

2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of the bowl. Using greased 1/4 C. dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4  inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12-14 minutes.

3. Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 T. melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Whew! Long post, but it had to be shared. For those of you that don’t have the time to read my ramblings, here’s the synopsis…


Plum Jam, Plum Jam Cake and Drop Biscuits=Oh so good! Go make now.

Holly of Phe/MOM/enon=A wonderful and sweet person. I think you should be Twitter friends with her and visit her Blog often.

13 Notes Leave a Note

  1. Oh plum jam, this looks so good, the cinnamon sounds like an inspired touch. I would totally make this right now (or in another two weeks when plum season is in full throttle) only we have a vat of the stuff that the boyfriend brought home from Bosnia.

  2. Thank you very much…I have scoured the internet looking some say they do some say they dont…some say if you leave the peels on it makes it chewy and sometimes bitter…So I was going back and fourth. I have been making jam and jellys for 3 years now…but this will be my first plum. I appreciate you getting back to me.

    • Cassie – No problem! It’s true that a plum’s skin can be bitter, but I love how rustic the jam is with the skin on and I never noticed bitterness in the finished product. I think you’ll love the plum jam!

  3. Ok I made it and it tastes amazing…but I think I bought the wrong plums…my jam is golden…lol

  4. Lovely dish! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday which is all about plums? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. Cheers

  5. I had fruit that we had picked over the weekend and I just made this jam.
    May I say the addition of cinnamon was indeed inspired!


  6. Thank you for recreating my Oma’s jam . It is delicious . Our plum tree which was supposed to have purple prune plums ( that is what the tag said) turned out to be red plums . The red plums jam and the plum cake is amazing

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Dagmar! I’ve used red plums before and loved those, too. The jam and cake are two of my favorite recipes.

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