Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 
                                  Beach Plum Crazy

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

"What are those giant blueberry-looking things on that bush?" That's what I wondered as I wandered over to look at them. My husband and I were strolling along a lovely South Fork beach with our dog Lexie, when I spotted the berries on the low-lying bush. They looked exactly like blueberries, except they were more like the size of grapes.

"Those are beach plums", my husband said after inspecting them. "Plums?" I exclaimed.  Popping one in my mouth told me everything I needed to know;  a sour exterior skin, the fruit inside sweeter, but still tart, with a solid little pit in the middle. 

Once home I read up on Beach plums and found some recipes. Several days later we returned to the beach, buckets in hand and spent the afternoon picking. Our efforts resulted in several pounds of the lovely purple-blue fruit.

It's not that surprising that I had never heard of Beach plums. The fruit only grows in NE coastal communities, along the shores in regions of New England, Cape Cod and the East End of Long Island. Residents there have been picking them for generations, using the fruit to make everything from jams and jellies to chutneys and even cordials.

Beach plums were originally gathered and eaten by local Native Americans. When European settlers arrived, they incorporated the fruit into their diets. In 1609 Henry Hudson reportedly saw plenty of "blue plums" growing along the banks of the Hudson River. Sadly these days, finding Beach plums is getting harder and harder as our shorelines become more and more developed. Many people who pick and collect the fruit wild are keeping the locations to themselves, as retailers are finding it harder to stock the rare fruit.

The bush that Beach plums grow on is low lying shrub. Some do grow taller, I picked fruit off some that were at least three to four feet tall. Picking this fruit involves a lot of bending and stooping, but the fruit is worth it. The plums ripen in the late summer for about one to two weeks, so don't wait long if you find some growing, because birds and deer are also fans of the fruit.

After picking we brought them home, rinsed them and cooked them down in a gigantic pot. The fruit cooks quickly, creating a gorgeous deep red sauce, that stains everything!  Our kitchen looked like the scene of a gruesome murder afterwards with red-stained splotches on the counters and stained utensils everywhere. My fingertips were still blue two days later.

So what do Beach plums taste like? The taste is very strong, almost wine-like. I couldn't stop sneaking sips from the spoon as I cooked them down. The juice tastes so much like a rich red wine, I can definately see why people make cordials out of the rich juice. 

While I didn't have enough juice for cordials, I did for making jelly. I tried extracted the juice using something called a "Squeezo". It's a hand-cranking gizmo that squeezes the juice out of fruits. It worked amazingly well making applesauce, separating the fruit and juice from the skin. But this time the plum pits gunked things up so bad, I had to use a hand ricer to squeeze the juice. It worked alright, but was not fun. Many recipes call for a jelly bag, so that is what I'm trying next time.

After extracting about four cups of plum juice, I boiled them up with sugar, putting them in jars, making about eight jars of jelly.

Biting into a hot buttered piece of toast with Beach plum jelly is a glorious thing! The flavor is probably somewhere between raspberry and blueberry jelly. Plus there's also a wine under-taste (if that makes sense).  Imagine your favorite red wine made into a sweet jelly. 

I'm totally in love with this flavor and am already looking forward to next year's batch, but I can't tell you where I picked them, because that's now a family secret.

This is the recipe I used to make Beach Plum Jelly, courtesy of It's super easy and delish! 


1 1/2 gallons (approx) of fresh beach plums — THE GOAL IS 4 CUPS OF PURE, STRAINED BEACH PLUM JUICE. 
7 cups sugar
1 package Certo liquid pectin

(If you don't have enough juice, you can half this recipe. I did that to test the recipe, using two cups of juice with 3 1/2 cups sugar. I added 1/2 package of powdered Sure Jell pectin to that ratio, it worked fine).

Wash and pick over the fruit. Discard anything you don't like the look of.  The juice is released from the fruit by cooking over a low heat.  Cook the berries in a heavy pot over low heat, crushing them down with a potato masher as you go. 

A jelly bag is key.  And if you don't have the rest of the tools that you really should have if you're going to be serious about all this, get one of the Ball canning sets. You'll never regret it.

Let the cooked fruit and juice cool, then put through the jelly bag.  A lot of juice will drip out, but don't stop there. Squeeze, squash, wring that bag and you'll be very gratified about the additional juice you get. 

Prepare your jars and lids — wash and sterilize.

Mix 4 cups of juice with 7 cups of sugar in a big heavy pot.  Be advised that when this comes to a boil it expands quite a lot, so leave yourself plenty of room to avoid boil-overs.  Turn the heat to medium-high, stirring occassionally. When the juice and sugar mixture is really roiling, add the package of pectin.  The boiling will abate for a moment, then resume. Stir, stir, stir as it boils furiously for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Use a spoon to skim off any foam, leaving just the clear, garnet colored liquid. Ladle into 1/2 pint jars, seal, and turn each jar over for 5 minutes, then turn right side up again. (Current experts advise a five minute boiling water bath for the jars, but when I started making jams and jellies the "invert for 5 minutes" method was still in favor, so I'm staying old-school on this.) **But boil the filled jars afterwards if you prefer.

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