for the Love of Beach Plums

Not Only for the BirdsImage.jpg For those of you who have not read my story about beach plum preserves in Rose's Melting Pot,I am offering it here and also a source for one of the best vinaigrettes using beach plums I've ever tasted: Beach Plum Specialties of Cape May: Michael Craig 609-425-9057: Here's the story from which is now 10 years old: I had been hearing about this for years: the annual family expedition to the beach around Labor Day to harvest the native beach plums that most people are perfectly content to leave on the bushes for the birds. Last year, though, Cousin Marion gave me a jar of the resulting thick, deep garnet, glistening preserves and after the first fruit-tangy taste, just perfect as a counterpoint to rich flavorful fowl such as goose, duck turkey, squab or Capon. I resolved to join in the annual tradition. So we met last year, three generations, which included Aunt Margaret, her daughter Marion, and granddaughter Alexandra. We met in a parking lot and all piled into one car. Aunt Margaret guided us down the morass of winding roads leading to her special site by the bay and there were the beach plum bushes hung with clusters of the small purple orbs, resembling Concord grapes in size and shape. After two hours, we had each picked at least five pounds of beach plums developed appetitites for lunch and caught up on many stories. The next day I started the pitting process. It was slow--averaging one pound of beach plums an hour--so I called Marion to catch up on some more stories while squeezing the pits from the fruit. I was awed to realize that I, who during the rest of the year can't seem to spare five minutes for relaxation, was spending five hours pitting beach plums and loving it. Precious preserves aside the real fruit of our harvest was the intimacy and connection this time-honored activity provided. Addendum: Our preserves used a little more than half the weight of the pitted fruit in sugar. The labels on the Beach Plum Specialties of Cape May jam and jelly lists sugar first (which means there is more sugar than beach plums) but still has that unique flavor of beach plum. Aunt Margaret is no longer with us; Cousin Marion has become a grandmother as Alexandra now has a little girl of her own.