Beach plum jelly has a taste that's virtually unknown except maybe in the Hamptons, Cape Cod and along the Atlantic Coast. The art of making beach plum jelly, or any jams for that matter, has been revived recently with more people wanting to use local fruits and have a condiment that’s a notch above mass produced jelly-in-a-jar. However, beach plums are kind of fickle, some years they are available and other years, like this summer they are plentiful to pick from their secret spots along the East Hampton dunes. That’s if you are still fortunate to avoid the poison ivy and ticks. A safer bet for me is to make Damson Plum Jam. Or, just reach out to my favorite monks at Trappist Preserves for a mail order jam solution.
Yes, you could say they use a production method of a higher authority. But, what I really love about Trappist Preserves is they use only the best seasonal fruits and make only a certain allotment based on the highest quality, not filling sales quotas. When the Kadota Fig Preserves, or Red Currant Jelly is gone that’s it. And, yes they do make a Damson Plum Jam!
A lesson learned from the late Fr Robert, “Ordinary, Obscure and Laborious” —the life of monks.
Do You Know Your Jam?
- Jams are made from puréed fruit
- Jellies are made from fruit juice
- Marmalades include peel
- Conserves & preserves are made from the whole fruit, but raisins and nuts may be added
Jam is only as good as your fruit. Taste plums and adjust tartness vs. sweetness according to the ripeness of plums. If only using all ripe plums, peel core and chop one green apple in place of unripe plums to aid in adding natural pectin.
Damson Plum Jam
recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes about 6-8 250-ml jars
2 3/4 pounds very ripe Damson plums
1 cup water
1/4 pound unripe Damson plums; contains added natural pectin
Variable: 4-6 cups pure cane granulated sugar, depends on sweetness of plums and personal taste (you may also use a little honey and cut down on some sugar)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 orange peels- about 2 inches x 1/4 inch, no whites
Wash plums, add the water and simmer the plums until the skins are soft. Allow to cool and remove the pits.
Optional~ if you do not want plum skins, strain plums through a sieve to remove skins. I prefer the texture and do not strain.
Combine plum puree, lemon juice, orange peel and sugar in a heavy gauged sauce pot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally with a long handle spoon until sugar dissolves. Continue to stir frequently to prevent sticking or burning. Cook until the plum puree and sugar reach the jellying point of 220 degrees F. About 20-30 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour hot jam into hot, sterile canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; making sure the tops of the jars are clean so the lids seal. Adjust two-piece sterile metal canning lids. Place jars into a large pot with a strainer on the bottom so jars do not have direct contact with bottom of pot. Cover the filled and closed jars with an inch or so of hot water and boil for 10 minutes.