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Fae Kontje-Gibbs

8.1.17

Wild Thing: Beach Plums

Prunus maritima.

Beach plum harvests are always bittersweet. Anticipation begins in spring, when the shrubs produce abundant white flowers. Serious collectors use this time to scout prime picking locations, then monitor the progress of their favorite spots all summer long. The fruit ripens slowly during this time, finally turning from red to bluish-purple as the final days of August slip away. Maybe that’s why beach plums are popularly made into jam and preserved, the better to enjoy the flavors of summer all year long.

Where to look: Though found on beach paths and dunes all over, they’re especially prevalent up-Island. Look for shrubs four to eight feet tall with oval leaves and marble-size fruit.

How to use: A bit tart and firm to be eaten raw, beach plums are most commonly made into jelly, wine, or dessert sauces, or added to cocktails.

We often love to think now of the life of men on beaches, – at least in midsummer, when the weather is serene; their sunny lives on the sand, amid the beach-grass and the bayberries, their companion a cow, their wealth a jag of drift-wood or a few beach-plums, and their music the surf and the peep of the beach-bird.                                
                – Henry David Thoreau