Monday, September 28, 2020

Java Plum Muffins - #MuffinMonday

A few years ago I discovered an unknown tree growing in my backyard. I did some research and found that it is called java plum but Jamaicans call it ribena (a reference to the black currant drink). It is native to Southeast Asia. The fruit is extremely tart and I immediately wanted to bake something with them. I also learned that Jamaicans make a drink with them. Side note: Jamaicans make a drink with EVERYTHING. Multiple times this past week persons mentioned making pumpkin punch. I stick to baking. 

I wanted to use the java plum as one would use blueberries but the huge seeds are a pain. Deseeding them leaves you with little yield and a very purple kitchen and hands. I ditched my plans and in 2018, the tree was cut down because it had become a hazard (tall trees + hurricanes). A few weeks ago, I noticed the fruit on the ground. The tree had sprung back up and was bearing. Time to try again. This time I made a bit of a jam and swirled that into my muffins. 

Scroll down to see what the other Muffin Monday bakers made!

Java Plum Muffins 
Yield: 12 muffins

Jam Ingredients
250 g Java plums 
1/4 cup water
75g sugar
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

Muffin Base Ingredients 
1 3/4 cup flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 eggs 
3/4 cup sugar 
1/2 cup oil 
1/2 coup sour cream 
1/4 cup milk 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract 


Place the java plums and water in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the pulp falls off the seeds. Turn the heat off and remove the seeds. That is a bit tedious. Sorry.
Add sugar to the pulp and return to medium heat. Cook until thickened. Stir it often so it doesn't stick tot the sides or bottom of the pot. I reduced mine by about a half or so. Stir in the lemon or lime juice. 
Allow to cool completely. Chill if you have time. 

Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan. 

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs and sugar then add oil, sour cream, milk and vanilla. 

Divide the batter among the 12 muffin wells - they will be almost full. Gently swirl in a heaping teaspoon of java plum jam. Alternatively, you can add about a tablespoon and a half of batter, a little jam, more batter and then swirl a little more jam. That gives you a nice surprise in the middle. 

Bake for 5 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake for another 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

  • My research suggested that the over-ripe fruit was not best for jam - less pectin. I still used very ripe fruit because it is not as tart. The texture was fine for my purposes.
  • Don't swirl too much!
Muffin Monday

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all of our lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page. post signature


  1. We call them prune plums and they are my favorite!! I planted a tree a couple of years ago but it hasn't given me any fruit yet. I am pinning this recipe so that when it does bear fruit I can make these amazing muffins.

    1. I looked up prune plums. Seems that's another similar fruit! I am going to research it more

  2. Yay for resilient trees! There's nothing better than being able to pick fruit in your own garden for making jam. I always feel so virtuous. :) Your swirly muffins look wonderful, Kelly!

  3. Pumpkin punch? Lol!!

    Love that your tree came back to life and is bearing fruit!

    1. Yup! Funny enough, the day I published this post, my coworker gave me a pumpkin and suggested that I make pumpkin and carrot punch with it. I am apparently the only Jamaican who has not had this.

  4. Java plums looks delicious, this muffin sounds so yummy. need to try it.

  5. We get Italian plums and Damson plums for cooking but those are reliably sweet. Yours sound interestingly tart. I made a Chinese ginger plum soda before that sounds perfect for your fruit. You make the syrup with sugar, water, plums, and ginger, steep, strain, and top it up with club soda. Might use up some without too much seed removal.

    1. That sounds perfect for these! My cousin actually suggested steeping them too. I am definitely going to try that.