No Pectin Apple Plum Jelly

How to make any no-pectin jelly.

apple plum jelly

My husband thinks perhaps I have gone overboard making jam this year. Although I give it away as gifts, he says we don’t know that many people. There are 86 jars so he may have a point. But I love to make long cooking, no pectin jams. There are worse habits out there.

So, although I make tons of jam, I seldom make jelly. Jam, despite what the commercial canning books say, can be made quite well without adding a box of pectin. But jelly is finicky. Since jelly has no solids, it’s made from juice, it needs pectin to set. And not all fruits have enough pectin of their own. Really just apples, citrus (peels), grapes, quince, and a few others will set up with their own juice.

I don’t like spreads made from boxed pectin, it sets up too firm for me. Besides, the pectin gives me an upset stomach. But every year I try to make at least a couple jars of jelly with natural pectin. Last year it was sour cherries, this year apples and plums.

Making jelly really isn’t difficult, it just requires a little more patience while waiting for the fruit to release its juice. Commercial juice usually won’t work because the pectin is broken down in the pasteurization process and then filtered out.

As you can see, the jelly is beautiful! It has a nice tart apple flavor with plum overtones.

Figuring Out How Much Sugar To Use

The amount of juice you get from the fruit will vary based on the particular fruit, how patient you are, etc. Use this rule of thumb:

Use 3/4 the amount of sugar as you have juice. For example, if you have 3 cups of juice use 2 1/4 cups sugar. If you have 1 cup of juice use 3/4 cup sugar.

If you are still having trouble with the math, check out the Kitchen Math worksheet and podcast to get it all figured out.

Sterilize Your Jars

When making jelly is the only time you really have to sterilize your canning jars. Any product processed at least 10 minutes only requires clean canning jars. Jelly is only processed 5 minutes, so the jars must be sterilized. Don’t be tempted to process the jelly for 10 minutes, it may break down and lose its gel!

No Pectin Apple Plum Jelly
Apple plum jelly made with no added pectin.
Recipe type: Preserves
Serves: 3 half-pints
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2½ lbs tart apples
  • ½ to 1 lb black or red plums
  • 3 cups water
  • 2¼cups sugar
  1. Prepare juice: Wash apples. Do not peel or core. Cut apples into wedges.
  2. Repeat with the plums.
  3. Add apples and plums to a large pot. Add water.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fruit is soft. Let cool slightly.
  5. Strain juice through a damp jelly bag or layers of cheesecloth.
  6. Make the Jelly: Measure the juice. You should have about 3 cups of juice.
  7. Pour juice into a large pot. Add sugar.
  8. Note: The amount of juice may vary. Use ¾ as much sugar as you have of juice.
  9. Stir to dissolve sugar.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
  11. Cook and stir until jelly has set; usually at 8 degrees above boiling water temperature or about 220 degrees.
  12. Or, use the sheet test method to determine if the jelly has set.
  13. Remove from heat, skim foam if necessary.
  14. Ladle into sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch headspace.
  15. Process in a water bath canner for 5 minutes.

Now Available!

Even more no-pectin recipes – Creative Jams and Preserves. Purchase your print or digital copy today!

creative jams and preserves cookbook

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

September 30, 2015

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