It’s a banner year for wild plums. Along trails and roadsides throughout Nebraska, you should be able to find plenty of ripe plums for juices, jellies, jams and sauces.
Wild or American plum, Prunus americana, is a small native tree or shrub that forms dense thickets with sharp-tipped twigs. The abundance of ripe 1-inch plums in late summer or early autumn makes this a favorite of wild food buffs. When ripe, the sweet yellow, red or purple fruits are fleshy and juicy.
Plums can be eaten fresh in season or processed into a sauce for meats or desserts. Plum jelly and jam are great for bread or toast and spiced plum jelly makes a great baste for roast meat, especially wild game.
The Omaha tribe often dried the fruit for winter use and planted corn, beans and squash when their fragrant spring flowers came into bloom. (Note: these aggressive, thicket-forming shrubs can be contained by surrounding them with mowed areas or other thicket-forming shrubs nearby for competition.)
Wild Plum Jelly from Kay Young’s Wild Seasons: Gathering and Cooking Wild Plants of the Great Plains
4 cups plum juice
3 cups sugarMix in large, heavy kettle and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and allow to boil gently till it reaches jelling point, about 20-25 minutes.
k . It's delicious and easy to make as well. Kay recommends sauteing it with onion, mushrooms and butter, then adding a little flour, some milk, salt and pepper and maybe a dab of sour cream at the end.
*Excerpted from the 2014 GreatPlants Gardener