Prunus Maritima, commonly called the Beach Plum, are native to the East coast of the united states, ranging from roughly Maryland to Maine. This shrub handles cold temperatures well and is salt-hardy, growing well in full sun and well drained soil.
All this makes for a plant that is right at home growing along the sandy shores of the Vineyard.
The plants usually start blooming in May and June, with the fruit ripening in August and September. Purple and about the size of a cherry, these small plums taste like a more tart version of their larger, more well known brethren. Off of the branch, they could almost be mistaken for concord grapes.
In coastal New England, Beach Plums are commonly used to make jellies and jams, almost every family seems to have cultivated their own recipe. Jars of beach plum jelly are readily available in gift shops and farmers markets on the Cape and Islands.
While the jelly is certainly tasty, we wanted to find a new use for these little plums, and stumbled upon this recipe for beach plum cordial on the Cape May County Beach Plum Association’s website.
We halved their recipe and so started with two cups of ripe beach plums that we harvested from various spots on the Vineyard. Be sure to check regulations in your area before picking, and never harvest on private property without obtaining permission first.
Wash the plums and put them into a sterilized 1/2 gallon glass jug or container with a tight fitting lid. Add one and a quarter cups of sugar and 12.5 ounces of vodka or rum. We went with vodka. Cap the vessel and leave it at room temperature, shaking it well every morning and night for two weeks. After that, move it to a cool place and let it rest for two months. Then, using cheesecloth, strain the mixture and serve.
OK, full disclosure, we didn’t wait the full two months before sampling the concoction. After five weeks or so, we decided to try the cordial. The drink had a thick and syrupy mouthfeel, almost like cough syrup. It also tasted liked cough syrup. Specifically, artificially cherry flavored cough syrup, maybe with a hint of almond flavor, perhaps from the pits. Even the color screamed cough syrup with its reddish-purple hue. We’re hoping that with more time to rest, it will improve, but for right now every time we taste it, all we can think of is cough syrup.
What to do with something that tastes exactly like cough syrup? Make our own version of sizzurp or purple drank? What kind of cocktail would benefit from cough syrup flavor? We’re working on a couple of ideas, but we haven’t worked out all the details yet. Hopefully, we can come up with a reasonable way to use this strange concoction.
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