As the sea grapes here in South Florida begin to ripen, I cant help but make some Sea Grape Jam. Largely ignored, the Sea Grape - Coccoloba uvifera - and known as Uva de Playa in Spanish, is widespread and quite common despite it's recognition. When I was younger I would snack on them while at the beach, but disliked the fact that they have a very large pit. Turning them into jam can solve this, and can be fun too.
The plant itself is very salt tolerant and can be found growing right on the beach dunes. It is reported to be the first plant encountered by Christopher Columbus when he "discovered" America. Exposed to the high winds of the beach, the plant grows sturdy and wide to embrace these conditions. Grown in a more sheltered location, they grow as a tree and can reach massive heights.
To make Sea Grape Jam, you'll need:
1. Sea Grapes, of course.
2. Two Lemons or Limes
4. 5 cups of sugar.
To start, wash and then boil your Sea Grapes in a ratio of 2 cups Sea Grapes to one cup water. Use as many cups of Sea Grapes as you can. Crush the Sea Grapes as they boil for 25-30 minutes, until they are soft and palatable. Drain the juice through a jelly bag into a container, and DO NOT SQUEEZE.
Pour the juice into a pot and stir in the juice of your Lemons or Limes, and then add your Pectin. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and add your sugar. Let it return to a boil and let it remain boiling for one minute, always stirring. After removing from heat, skim foam if necessary. Pour into Sterilized Jars while leaving a quarter inch room at the top of the jar. Sterilize the jars in a 5 minute boil bath, and presto! Sea Grape Jam!