You’ll Go Wild for this Beach Plum Jelly
In between the quaint villages, seafood shacks, lighthouses and open water is another Cape Cod treasure: the wild beach plum. This fruit grows on shrubs that can be found from roadsides to the remotest parts of the area’s pine barrens. The plant thrives in sandy soil, likes the full sun, is cold-hardy and tolerates salty air. This helps explain why it has made a home in the same place President John Kennedy once vacationed. And it is little wonder why come August the Chatham Jelly & Jams staff heads to the dunes.
The Chatham Jam & Jelly Shop is a family-run business that started out in 1983 using mostly local wild fruits and herbs in their products. Carol Cummings, one of the family members and chief operator, tells us that although they continue making jellies and jams that way they have since expanded to include non-native ingredients like jalapenos and apricots. The business also makes marmalades, relishes, butters and other related products.
The store is a favorite among locals but is goes without saying that the business relies on the summer tourism trade to make it through the harsh New England winters. So, Chatham offers up over 120 products so that there is something for everyone. And if you guessed that their Beach Plum Jelly is the best seller, you guessed right. But the company has other hits like Wild Blueberry Jam, Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam and Cranberry-Jalapeno Jelly. And sometimes the best way to appreciate the products is to know how to use them. Serving wine to guests? Bring out the Fig and Walnut Jam and offer it with goat cheese and crackers. Are lamb chops on the dinner menu? You better not forget the Garden Mint Jelly made from apple mint grown in the family garden. And the best roast beef sandwich you will ever have is served with the Cranberry-Hot Horseradish Jelly. Are you a cook? People with a culinary flair clamor for the Apricot-Habanero Jelly and use it in roasting chicken and add to stir-fry.
If you are going to be up in Massachusetts be sure to check out the company website and find what stores carry the Chatham products. And if The Bay State is not on your itinerary simply shop online. That way you can always have a little taste of Cape Cod when preparing or serving your next meal.