Hi, I'm Kim

Hi, I’m Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM, L.Ac. I’m a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back before going to school and becoming a healthcare practitioner, Affairs of Living was my creative outlet while healing from chronic health issues. There's big changes coming to the site - it will soon be the home of my new health coaching practice! Stay tuned. 

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Low-Sugar Gingery Plum-Apple Jam (cane sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan)

Gingery Apple Plum Jam

While reading through the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preservation recently, I came upon a variety of pectin-free jam recipes. Instead of pectin for thickening, these recipes used homemade applesauce made from whole, uncored, unpeeled apples and whole unpeeled lemons. The high amount of natural pectin in these two fruits thickens the jam naturally. Additionally, using the homemade applesauce as a base helps to extend your other fruit - be it plums, cherries, berries, peaches, or the like - much further, allowing you to make more jam with less of this other fruit. I was totally intrigued, and liked the idea of not needing pectin to thicken the jam. Sure, I love my Pamona's Pectin dearly, but wouldn't it be nice to take a break?

The recipes looked easy to adapt to include unrefined sweetener instead of cane sugar, and I had all the ingredients on hand. So, I whipped up a batch of jam with apples, plums and a bit of ginger, sweetened with agave nectar. It turned out marvelously. The jam is soft and spreadable, but still thick enough to mound on the end of a spoon. The color is fantastic, and the flavor is sweet and bright. I knew immediately I had to share it with you!

Gingery Apple Plum JamGingery Apple Plum Jam

Gingery Plum-Apple Jam

yield 6 8-oz. jars | adapted from the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preservation

This plum jam is made with unrefined sweetener and homemade applesauce. The applesauce is made with unpeeled apples and lemons, which are both loaded in natural pectin, and then is strained before combining with the plums. The result is a naturally thick, sweet jam that does not require the addition of pectin and is much lower in sugar than conventionally prepared jams. 

This jam is simple to prepare and is affordable to make. Jam is a great thing to have on-hand for easy contributions to brunches or as a lovely gift!

  • 5 organic Granny Smith apples (unpeeled, uncored)
  • 1/3 cup peeled, chopped ginger root
  • 1 organic lemon, finely chopped (unpeeled)
  • water
  • 6 cups pitted, chopped black plums (unpeeled)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup agave nectar

Remove stem and blossom ends from apple, and coarsely chop. Prepare ginger root and lemon, and place in a large, tall pot with enough water to eliminate sticking. Don't be alarmed by all the seeds, pith, and skins - this it is all high in natural pectin and will help thicken the jam! You will be straining all of the chunky stuff out before using it. Bring apple mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat and simmer until apples are very soft, about 20-25 minutes, stirring often. 

Remove from heat and run mixture through a food mill, or scoop small amounts into a fine mesh strainer positioned over a bowl and push apple mixture through the holes with the back of a spoon (scrape out skins/seeds often and work in batches). Reserve two cups of the fresh applesauce, and place leftovers in the fridge to eat on its own or use in other recipes. Discard seeds/skins.

Prepare boiling water canner by filling with enough water to cover jars by 1-2 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water, and place in a bowl of hot water (NOT boiling) until you are ready to fill them. I often like to fill a teapot with water and bring to a boil, just in case I find I need more water for my canner once I fill with jars.

Place the applesauce, chopped plums, and agave nectar in a tall pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until plums are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring often. Mixture will spatter, so be careful! I'm still nursing a burn or two  :)

Remove jars from hot water, drain, and place on a kitchen towel. Ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove bubbles with a chopstick or small spatula by running around the sides of the jar, then adjust headspace if necessary, and wipe rims with a clean damp cloth. Apply lid and screw on band finger-tight.

Lower jars into boiling water canner, making sure that jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Add more boiling water as necessary, and cover with lid. Once water has returning to a rolling boil, start timing and process 10 minutes (increase 5 minutes for every 1,000 feet of elevation). Once time is up, shut off heat, let sit in canner for 5 minutes, and transfer jars to a double thickness of towel placed 1-inch apart. Do not tip jars or wipe dry - water will evaporate.

Let sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours, away from drafts. Then check seals - the tops of the jars should dip in the middle, and not bounce back when you press down with your fingers. If jars are well-sealed, wipe them clean, label, and store in a cool, dark place. Consume with in 1 year. Jars that did not seal should be refrigerated and contents consumed. Eat open jams within 3 weeks. 



Spiced Jam - feel free to add your favorite spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, or cardamom. Start with a small amount and add gradually, tasting as you go.

Other fruit jams - use this same basic technique and substitute an equal amount of other fruit for the plums, such as peaches, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, or pluots.


This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday on Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free.


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Reader Comments (8)

How fun! I've read recipes to make your own pectin with apples but never quite like this. I can't wait to give this a try soon. I'm on such a canning kick lately!


Yum! Thanks for this recipe - making low sugar jam is always a little tricky, but I love the flavour combinations in this!

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlissa

Hi Kim!! Thanks so much for linking up. I have made jam with agave before and it stays great if it's sealed - I processed mine in a water bath canner. I noticed that it didn't keep well once opened though - it 'fermented' and tasted like alcohol. Ugh. Have you had that experience? Just wondering if you found a way around this.

Thanks for linking up!


i LOVE these pictures! and the recipe sounds yum too! - is that a paper napkin background or cloth? either way what a feast for the eyes!

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAurea@SurvivalGuide

Hi there. I've made blueberry jam using chopped apples and lemon juice and it works really well. Recipe was from The Edmonds Cookbook, a classic here in New Zealand. I'd like to play around with using less sugar this next season. Kind regards, Karen

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren from Struan Farm

@Amy - I love your Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays! Always so inspiring. Your blog is looking great, BTW - love the makeover :) As for the jam, no, I've never had it "ferment" and get funky when I use agave. How long did it take for yours to go weird? I always try to eat the jam within 2-3 weeks of opening, had yours sat in the fridge longer?

@Aurea - Thanks so much! I was housesitting and loving the light in the kitchen and all their cute napkins and dish cloths :) The cloth in the background is a waffle weave dish cloth. I am so glad that you like the photos.

@Karen - Thanks for the note! I will have to look up that cookbook, thanks for referencing it. You are making me want to visit New Zealand! I suppose it is nearly spring time there, so you have a great jamming season coming up :)

August 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterKim

Kim hi,

My house is packed with Italian plums and apples from trees around my neighborhood here in Montana. I wish lemons grew around here to so I could make a fully local jam! I want to try your recipe but had a question regarding the sweetener. Is it needed for the jam to 'solidify' or is it just a flavor issue? My children like their jam a little on the sour side and our plums are so sweet that flavor wise, we really do not need to sweeten it. I was considering to go for a SANS sweetener jam, what do you think?

Thank you

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDalit

Hello Dalit,
Yes, I think you could omit the sweetener, it is just a flavor booster. The applesauce is high in pectin and thickens it; the agave nectar has very little do to with thickening. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy it! -Kim

October 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterKim
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo