Beach Plums and jelly

Beach-plum jelly. (Make in August.)
Cover with water, cook till tender, strain through a jelly bag, letting it drip all night. Allow a pint of sugar to a pint of juice; boil till it begins to set when tested.
Housekeepers Handy Book. by Lucia Allen Millet Baxter. Boston: 1913

Beach Plums,or Prunus Maritima, are found from Maine to Virginia.  As shore line development has decreased the habitat of wild plants, groups such as Cape May County Beach Plum Association
609-412-3123, are trying to protect the plants while informing the public on the plant’s usefulness.  The group meets monthly and helps with planting the drought resistant beach plums for dune stabilization. The harvested fruit can be made into jelly, jam, drinks, desserts and other dishes.

Giovannida Verrazano first mentioned the plums in 1524, according to Elizabeth Mirel.  Her book, Plum Crazy, includes a few pages on the history of Beach Plums.  Other explorers such as Henry Hudson [1609] and John Brereton [1602] also wrote about the native plum.  Humphrey Marshall gave the first scientific description in his Arbustum Americanum, Philadelphia: 1785. “Sea side Plumb.  This grows naturally towards the sea coast, rising to the height of eight or ten feet, often leaning, and spreading into many branches.  The leaves are oblong, rather smaller, and not so pointed as those of the common plumb; smooth and of a shining green on the upper side, but something lighter underneath, and slightly sawed on the edges.  This is generally well filled with flowers, a few of which are succeeded by small, roundish fruit.”

Further information is available from the Cape May County Beach Plum Association or the  Cornell website

picture from: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada... by Nathaniel Lord Britton, 2d ed, New York: 1913