Teachable Moments…Foraging Beach Plums for Jelly

Freshly picked Beach Plums in a colendarBy Mallory Martin, UMaine Extension Staff, Administrative Support Specialist (Food & Nutrition) 

UMaine Extension Cumberland staff members will be bringing you new skills, tips, and tricks about a variety of Extension related programs in our Teachable Moments series. In this post we will follow UMaine Extension nutrition staff Kathy Savoie and Kate McCarty as they forage beach plums to create beach plum jelly.

On a beautiful, sunny day at the end of summer Kathy Savoie and Kate McCarty ventured to the Back Cove in Portland to pick beach plums. They found different colored ones (red and purple) and they picked the ripe ones—the unripe ones are green.

On foraging Kate explains, “There’s lots of advice for foraging out there, but the applicable advice here in an urban environment is to make sure you’re picking in an area that hasn’t been affected by environmental contaminants, like road salt or exhaust.

Wash the fruit well before you begin to prepare the recipe.” After foraging the plums they returned to the UMaine Regional Learning Center in Falmouth to make jam in our kitchen classroom. Below is the recipe and steps they took to safely preserve the beach plums and create jelly.

Beach Plum Jelly

Yields 7 cups


  • 5 lbs. beach plums
  • 5 1/2 cups prepared juice
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Fruit Pectin


  1. Place beach plums in a saucepan; add enough water to cover fruit. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops.
  3. Measure exact amount of prepared juice into 6 or 8-quart saucepot. (If necessary, add up to ½ cup water to get exact amount of juice needed.)
  4. Measure exact amount of sugar into separate bowl.
  5. Mix ¼ cup sugar from measured amount and 1 box Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Fruit Pectin in small bowl.
  6. Stir pectin-sugar mixture into fruit or juice in saucepot.
  7. Brig mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
  8. Stir in remaining sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
  9. Ladle quickly into sterilized jars, filling ¼-inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Bring water to gentle boil; jelly 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel or rack to cool completely.
  10. Store unopened jams and jellies in cool, dry, dark place.

beach plum jelly in jars cooling on a rack