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Beach Plum Brandy


Most of the time, the Kitchen Genius and I are on the same cookbook page. One notable exception is beach plums. There aren’t many things I enjoy more than foraging in the dunes on my hands and knees for these little jewels. I’m willing to ignore scratches and poison ivy for the pleasure of filling my bucket. KG isn’t.

His allergy to poison ivy is part of it, but it goes deeper than that. He not only doesn’t want to go with me, he doesn’t want me to go at all. This became abundantly clear over the weekend.

On Saturday we had a list of things to do: harvest veggies at the garden, pick beach plums, buy mums and lettuce plants at Agway, grocery shop and then cook dinner for 12.  When he asked me what order I wanted to do things, I listed it exactly that way.

He informed me that beach plums were not a priority. I saw his point and we agreed that Agway, planting mums and lettuce in the garden and cooking for our dinner party might be ambitious enough for one day.

Sunday, I didn’t even tell him my plans. I simply put on some old jeans and a t-shirt, determined to go pick beach plums. KG caught me as I was putting my sneakers on.

“Beach plums?” he asked.

“Yep,” I replied. But I couldn’t help asking him why he was so resistant to me going.

“You pick too many every time,” he said. “It’s wasteful and it takes food away from the birds. We still have two bags of beach plums in the freezer from last year.”

To be honest, it made me a little grumpy that I forgot to use those last two bags. I was on a roll last year to prove him wrong, but I always forget about the small freezer in the basement. I vowed that this year would be different – and donated those two frozen bags to the birds.

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The view while picking beach plums is simply divine.

I set off by myself and was soon in plum heaven. It was a good crop this year and I picked happily for three hours, slowing down towards to end to stretch the time.

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The bushes were loaded with plums this year.

At some point, it occurred to me that KG must be getting nervous about how long I had been gone. After 25 years together, our mental telepathy is pretty well honed.

Sure enough, when I got back to my car with my second giant container of beach plums, there was a text on my cell phone that said, “Do I need to send a search party for you or call the beach plum police?”

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My yield (much to KG’s dismay).

Back home, I got busy processing the bounty. I made beach plum brandy to give away at Christmas, beach plum liqueur for autumn martinis and beach plum jelly. After all of that, I still had only used half of the amount of beach plums I had picked. After poring through my copy of “Plum Crazy” by Elizabeth Post Mirel, I decided to make beach plum wine.

We had already decided to try our hand at wine making this year because KG finally grew a fabulous crop of Niagara grapes, which are wine grapes. I decided a red wine would be a fun experiment as well. Two batches of beach plum wine used up 20 cups of the fruit.

And still there were more. At that point, I decided to make beach plum shrug, which is similar to kombucha, which we both enjoy. Shrugs are refreshing beverages made from equal parts of fruit, sugar and vinegar.

The last four cups defeated me. I divided them among two freezer bags and hid them in the upstairs freezer so I won’t forget to use for other recipes like beach plum glazed duck and a marinade for a boneless leg of lamb.

Beach Plum Brandy
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Beach Plum Brandy
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Print Recipe
  • 1.75 liters brandy
  • 4 cups beach plums
  • 2 cups sugar
  1. Pour half of the brandy into a second 1.75 liter bottle (or quart canning jars).
  2. Place 2 cups of beach plums and 1 cup of sugar in each jar.
  3. Cap tightly and shake to mix.
  4. Store at room temperature for two weeks, shaking bottles once a day.
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