Monthly Archives: September 2013

Beach Plum Crazy

Beach Plum Jelly

I recently had the pleasure of attending a fabulous beach plum canning workshop with the Trustees of Reservations and Appleton Farms. Beach plums can be found growing in the wild along the coast from Maine to Virginia.

Purple Beach Plums

The shrub-like trees grow in sandy areas and produce sweet, cherry-sized fruits in purple and golden varieties.

Golden Beach Plums

Beach plums can be eaten raw, made into jams and jellies, used in baking or in cordials and liqueurs.

Beach Plum Harvest

I’m told that this year’s yield was unusually large, so we were able to pick enough fruit for the canning workshop plus some to take home.

You need a permit to pick on Trustees’ land so I’m not going to give up our harvesting location. The leaders of the workshop were really passionate about the importance of keeping sand dunes intact because they protect our beaches. If you decide to go out in search of the beach plum on your own, please respect their habitat by staying on marked trails and trying not to step on the vegetation that keeps the dunes in place.

Straining Beach Plum Juice

In the workshop, we made a delicious beach plum jelly. After boiling down the fruits, we strained out the juice and combined it with sugar and pectin. The result was tart and sweet with a distinctly “plummy” flavor.

At home with my extra fruit, I decided to try making two varieties of beach plum cordial. I couldn’t decide between a vodka-based recipe and a brandy-based one, so I tried both. We won’t know how those turned out until I take them out of their “cool dark place” in March. I’ll let you know…

I’ve got a few cups of whole beach plums stowed in the freezer to get me through until next year’s harvest. Now that I’ve had a taste, I have a feeling that beach plums are going to be a yearly tradition.

Here is a link to the recipes for beach plum cordial and beach plum jam. You can find more great beach plum recipes in Elizabeth Post Mirel’s book, Plum Crazy: A Book About Beach Plums.

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Sweet and Salty Watermelon Salad – CSA Week 12

It seems that I’m a bit behind on blogging. I must admit that August was a tough month for writing CSA-focused blog posts. For one thing, the weather was gorgeously sunny but not too hot and made me want to be outside all the time. Ever tried to read a computer screen in the sun? On top of that, 90 percent of the late summer produce from the CSA has been the type that’s best enjoyed raw or very simply prepared. Deep crimson heirloom tomatoes, peppery arugula, perfectly crisp bell peppers, sugary sun-gold cherry tomatoes, bright green basil, delicately bitter cucumbers…all of these things were ending up in my belly before my mind could even begin to formulate a recipe!

I hope you all have been enjoying the lovely vegetables and fruits of August as much as I have. My return to the kitchen is guaranteed as fall ushers in crisp weather and root vegetables, but in the meantime here is a quick simple recipe that I made with the last of August’s bounty.

Salty and Sweet Watermelon Salad

Sweet and Salty Watermelon Salad

  • 6 C chopped watermelon (I used a mixture of yellow and pink…use as many colors you can get your hands on for a beautiful presentation!)
  • 1/2 C very thinly sliced Alisa Craig onions
  • 2 T finely chopped mint
  • 1/2 C sliced Kalamata olives
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • sea salt (optional: skip the salt and use feta cheese if you aren’t keeping it vegan)
  1. combine the watermelon, onions, mint, olives, olive oil and pepper in a large bowl
  2. just before serving, sprinkle a generous helping of crumbled feta or, for the vegan version, a scant sprinkling of  sea salt to individual portions. If you add the salt or feta too far in advance, the juices of the watermelon will be drawn out and you’ll have a soupy mess.

yellow watermelon