Wild Plum Jam

Image of white bullaces growing on the tree

I’d never heard of bullaces before I moved to Suffolk. Now I’m knee deep in them.

They’re a type of wild plum that grows in the hedgerows in East Anglia, although different varieties apparently grow in various parts of the UK, from east to west.

The commonest round here is the White Bullace, actually a golden green in colour, like a very small greengage and with a similar flavour when cooked.

Image of a branch of white bullace

It’s apparently a very old variety, known in some areas as “cricksies”, possibly originating from the Anglo-Norman creke.

I have no idea what that means as the otherwise informative Wikipedia article abandoned me at this particular turn on the twisty etymological path.

But “our” white bullaces grow along the creek, or stream, that runs through our garden, making picking them a somewhat hazardous event.

Image of a wild plum tree

Our fruit farming friend Jamie grows a much bigger black bullace that he rescued when the last existing tree he knew of was about to be grubbed up.

He had new trees grafted from the old and they produce a really tasty dark purple plum, equally good in jams, crumbles and plum gin. He gave us a couple of saplings and I’m eagerly waiting for them to get big enough to bear fruit.

Our wild bullaces, however, are tiny, about the size of a fat sloe, so they’re mostly skin and stone and are very tart until fully ripe.

Image of wild plums in a basket

But the flavour is superb, which makes it worthwhile (just about) sieving out all the stones to make jam. You end up with a quantity of golden amber preserve with a lovely balance of sweet and tart.

If you make this with normal-sized plums, you can of course halve and stone them first and save yourself a world of work.

Image of jars of wild plum jam

Wild Plum Jam

  • Servings: see recipe
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A quantity of plums


A couple of tablespoons of water


Image of wild plums being washed in a sink

Wash the plums thoroughly and pick off the leaves and stems.

Cook the plums gently in a large pan, adding a couple of tablespoons of water to stop them sticking. Squash them against the sides of the pan as they soften to release the stones.

Image of stones sieved out of plum pulp

Then either scoop out the stones as they float to the top, or strain the juice into the cleaned pan, picking out the stones by hand as each batch goes through the strainer and putting the remaining pulp back in with the juice. Grit your teeth, this is a labour of love.

Then measure the pulp and juice together and for each pint, add a pound of sugar. Put it all back into the cleaned pan and cook until the jam reaches setting point. Pot into sterilised jars and seal. Image of jars of wild plum jam

6 thoughts on “Wild Plum Jam

  1. Pingback: Bullace Gin | Mrs Portly's Kitchen

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  3. I have both trees in my garden and yes cooking them is a labour of love but the flavour is
    wonderful. I have what looks like a large mouli that sieves out the stones. I bought it in france
    where they are everywhere. This takes out much of the work. I feel privileged to have these
    trees in a very old garden.

    • Hi Hazel, thanks for taking the time to comment. Your mouli must be more efficient than mine, which hates the stones! They are lovely trees to have, aren’t they? I was walking around the garden today and a robin sat in a white bullace and sang to me for several minutes, like a very small rotund opera singer doing a solo. Quite magical. 🙂

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