Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wild beach plum bushes are found in the scrubby dunes around the bays out here on the East End. A little larger than a cranberry, they ripen to a reddish purple at summer's end. Our tradition is to go picking on Labor Day weekend. Once you find a nice thicket of them, it takes the two of us about an hour to collect a gallon and a half of the fruit needed for this recipe.
Wash them, picking out leaves, branches, and wizened or otherwise unappealing plums. They need to be cooked over low heat for a good long time to release the juice. I use a family-size crock pot (no snickering, it does an excellent job). I keep them on low for a good six hours. Higher heat on a stove might be faster, mashing and stirring as you go, but the crock pot is so easy.
Strain the juice from the skins and pits through a jelly bag. You'll have about 6 cups of juice. Add 7 cups of sugar, bring to full boil, add a pouch of Certo and boil good and hard for another minute. Then into sterilized jars, finish in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Plummy, tangy and sweet. Hand-picked from the wild, hand-made and home-canned. A wonderful holiday gift. Splurge on pretty labels at myownlabels.com.