Monday, May 12, 2014

Lilly Pilly Jam

 I received my Diggers gardener's club winter magazine today and was delighted to see that this season they suggest a lovely selection of native trees to replace fire hazardous eucalyptus. One such tree featured is the wonderful yet overlooked Lilly Pilly which is actually a fantastic fruiter!

It has been a loooong time between posts. I've been married for a year and a half and we are now expecting our second baby! I never stopped crafting of course and while we have a real garden now, we have only just started out so aren't getting much out of it at the moment especially heading into winter.

We have been foraging though; in early march we found some gorgeous peaches, walnuts, figs (to die for!) and mini plums. I made all sorts of delicious preserves from that lot....except the figs, they were too good to cook and we ate them all before I could anyway. Hahaha!

The Plum Jam was so good that my husband got upset when I traded a jar for hot cross buns and a loaf of bread. He got over it when the same friend gave as choc cross buns the following week though :)

So where was I? Ah yes, Lilly Pilly Jam! I have been doing a LOT of sewing for our new baby and one day as I opened the blind in my sewing room and looked out the window I noticed this:

It's a gorgeous HUGE lilly pilly tree growing down the side of my neighbor's house and ours. This cheeky tree is actually blocking up our drains with it's roots so I figured it owed me one. I remembered eating lilly pillys as a child fresh off the bush, being ver tart they were never more than a novelty but certainly sparked my interest in bush tucker.

 I did a google search to check for recipe ideas and 5 minutes later my 3 year old and I donned our gumboots and raided the tree, filling a bucket with fruit!

These were the berries we could reach without me climbing a ladder at 7months pregnant. Hahaha! Note that they are a little under-ripe. The riper fruit are darker and don't have any white bottoms. Don't worry, I sent my husband out with the ladder on mother's day to get me another batch and this time the are very ripe so the taste testing will be interesting!

Lilly Pilly Jam Recipe


  • 2.5kg of fresh picked Lilly Pillys (this is about a kmart bag 3/4 full)
  • 500g raw sugar (or you could use jam sugar or castor sugar)
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of dried pectin (or half a bag of Fowler's jam setter from Coles)
  • 1 teaspoon of citric acid (or a tablespoon of lemon juice)


  • A great big pot
  • strainer
  • ladel
  • 4 x 300ml jars with metal lids
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • ladel
  • funnel
  • sugar thermometer (optional)


Remove stems, leaves and any damaged fruit then wash your berries well using your strainer.

Remove the seeds. Lilly Pillys are very easy to break open with your fingers. It's a bit time consuming but you can do this as therapy while watching Gardening Australia on a Saturday afternoon ;). NOTE: not all lilly pillys have seeds. If you leave seeds in, not only would they guarantee a trip to the dentist but I have read they can upset your tummy. 

The start of my de-seeded fruit, inside the flesh is white.

The discarded bits: leaves stems and the seeds which vary in size and are a very pretty colour. I've kept some to see if I can germinate them.

Pop your fruit in your large pot and add water just to the top of the fruit.

Set to a low boil for approximately 30 minutes until the fruit softens and looks pale....

Add the sugar, vanilla and citric acid and let it boil down for approximately another 30 minutes until the liquid is visible reduced and the colour starts to intensify to a beautiful pink again.

Sprinkle your pectin over (or jam setter) and mix in with your spoon. At this stage I also add my sugar thermometer which I warm under the tap so it doesn't crack when I add it to the hot pot. Continue to boil down your jam, check on it and stir regularly. If you don't have a thermometer, pop a saucer or little plate in the freezer. Also, sterilize your jars now if you haven't already.

As your jam continues to boil down, that beautiful rich colour returns. You know your jam is done when the bubbles seem thicker and slower and your sugar thermometer hits 110 degrees C, just below 'soft ball' stage if you have the candy indicators on your thermometer. Turn off the heat.

NOTE: If you don't have a thermometer, put a teaspoon of the mix on saucer you've had chilling in the freezer for 30 or so minutes, as the jam cools on the plate it will indicate if the jam is too runny or not. Continue boiling it down and testing until it reaches a consistency you are happy with.

Use your funnel and ladel to spoon your jam into your sterilized jars. You can then process your jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes or do what your granny did and invert the jars until they cool.

NOTE: Both methods are used to decrease the risk of bacteria growing in your jam. It's worthwhile doing a little research into 'safe canning methods' if you want to give your preserves as gifts or even sell and trade them :)

And you're done! You should have about 4 x 300ml jars of extremely gorgeous Lilly Pilly Jam. Try it on scones...absolutely to die for! NOM NOM NOM!!!

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Happy cooking, crafting and gardening all!

- Love Pinky xox


Gillian Duce said...

This is lovely. We just had a lot of lilly pillies come out recently and was so very wonderful to find your little recipe. So simple and good.

Simon Knowles said...

"NOM NOM NOM!!!" - definitely a comment from a Mum! Just made my first batch of lilly pilly jam. What a surprising delight! Read your recipe for some reference but didn't follow much of it in the end. (I didn't have pectin and regrettably forgot about the vanilla.) I typically use 4:3 fruit / sugar ratio with jam so tried this with 800gms pretty ripe lilly pillies and added a grated 200gm granny smith apple to make up a kilo. So I used 750gm sugar to make up the ratio. It worked a treat. I always use a candy thermometer as find set point hard to be certain of and hate getting sloppy jam. I added a squirt of lemon juice at the end to assist setting too. It's pretty labour intensive to process the fruit but getting all the kids to de-pip whilst in front of the tele makes the labour easier. Thanks for your post.

Pinky Wittingslow said...

Thank you Gillian, I am super glad you like it :)

Pinky Wittingslow said...

Hi Simon, I do LOTS of improvisations too! Pectin can be hard to find and I love that you bulked it up with apple, that is a great idea! And I must say that I think I have used my candy thermometer every time I make a preserve now too. Although, there was this one time I decided to make strawberry jam while on my honeymoon using fresh local strawberries bought on a roadside and the free packets of sugar in our hotel room :)

Carol Taylor said...

l have been in the family home for 50+ years now and we have had Lilly Pilly trees growing in the driveway for as long as l can remember...not once have we made use of these berries nor have we eaten them..have always wondered what they taste like, but to chicken..chuckles..well, after reading your posts and some others l think it is time l gave it a try..always have plenty of stock there a flavour you can compare it to..?? also l am diabetic, is there an alternative to sugar that l can use..??

Ness said...

Don't know how it would work in Jan but beer brewers have a suger with enzymes that make it ok for diabetics

Stacy Ismail said...


Thanks for your lovely recipe! I've the link to it on my website:

We have lots of lilly pilly trees in South Africa but the majority of South Africans are unaware that they're edible, recipes like yours are great for spreading the word. :)