To me Beach Plum Jelly conjures up memories of summer, the beach, the ocean and Nantucket. I first went to Nantucket when I was in third grade and my family visited friends for a week. It seemed like such a magical place, beautiful beaches, sandy dirt roads, just the perfect place to spend a week as a child. It was years before I would visit again. In high school I went out to visit my boyfriend and his family. Little did I know that we would eventually marry and spend every summer visiting the island and his extended family.
During our visits I would often enjoy Beach Plum Jelly but I never saw anyone make it. My husband’s grandmother shared her recipe with me but was kind of vague about where you could actually find the elusive beach plums.
I found out that beach plums grow among the sand dunes, along the edges of roads, in any sandy location.
They mature slowly and love to grow among the poison ivy. They bloom in the spring and will be covered with tiny white blossoms. People actually locate the blooming bushes and write down their locations! You can never ask anyone where he or she finds their plums, as they just won’t tell you! I am now part of the group that knows where to find them! We recently spent a week in a quaint little cottage on Nantucket and the path to the beach was covered with beach plums. Every morning we would venture out to pick the plums that were now ripe! We tried to find plums that had reddish blush, as they would release the most pectin and make the best tasting jam. I’m sure I was the only one on the ferry ride home with a secret stash of beach plums.
After consulting Gram’s recipe I proceeded to make my very first batch of Beach Plum Jelly. The color is beautiful, a rich purple. This will be one jelly that will have a special spot in my pantry.
The recipe is very simple only three ingredients, beach plums, sugar and water.
Beach Plum Jelly
Wash plums, remove the stems and put the fruit in a stainless pot.
Cover with water, bring to a boil, drain and discard water.
This makes all the plums split their skins.
Return the plums to the pot, ad enough boiling water to barely cover, and cook until the fruit is soft, mashing with a wooden spoon once or twice.
Turn the fruit and juice into a jelly bag made with several layers of cheesecloth. Allow it to drain until no more juice drips thought, overnight. The temptation is to squeeze the bag but you don’t want to do that or the jelly will be cloudy.
For each cup of juice add 1 cup of sugar.
Boil on medium high heat until the juice “sheets”, that is, it will not run from a spoon but will drip in two drops that run together and fall from the spoon in a sheet.
Stop cooking immediately. Skim jelly. Pour into sterile jelly jars and process in your water bath for 5 minutes. Store in a cool dark place.
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