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.
The shrub-like trees grow in sandy areas and produce sweet, cherry-sized fruits in purple and golden varieties.
Beach plums can be eaten raw, made into jams and jellies, used in baking or in cordials and liqueurs.
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.
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.