Ark of Taste

Make a submission

Local Ark of Taste products:

Beach Plum

Ark of Taste

Beach plums were among some of the first plants European colonists encountered upon their arrival in North America. The explorer Giovanni da Varrazano referenced the beach plum upon a 1524 visit to New York, and Henry Hudson reported seeing beach plums in 1609 along the banks of what is today known as the Hudson River. Rarely eaten raw, the beach plum is uniquely astringent and has traditionally been made into preserves. Horticulturalist George Graves, in a 1944 article in National Horticulture Magazine, wrote that the beach plum’s “fruit flavor is unmatched by that of any other fruit known to the jellymaker or fruit preserver.”   By the 1940’s, a vibrant beach plum preserve cottage industry had developed on Cape Cod. Records show that in the 1930’s and 1940’s housewives were processing 15,000 bushels of beach plums per year on Cape Cod. Generations of families have been picking and preserving beach plums.  The summer pastime of foraging for beach plums and making preserves is an important part of the culture of places like Cape Cod and Long Island.   Native to the North Atlantic coast, beach plums thrive from Maine to Maryland. It grows either as a tree-like form or as a low, bushy plant that can spread to widths of 3 to 5 m long. The fruit is red, purple, deep blue and sometimes yellow and 1.25 to 2.5 cm in diameter. The fruit ripens in late August through September. Typically found growing wild in sandy environments, the beach plum grows well in low nutrient, low water-holding soils. It also endures high winds, blowing sands, and high salt levels. The beach plum is noted for its use in conservation efforts as its root system penetrates deep in to the soil and prevents erosion. It has proven resistant to domestication.   The beach plum’s enemy is development.  Real estate developers are encroaching on the coastal lands that beach plums stubbornly call home. Pickers have complained for decades of the increasing scarcity of the fruit, and blame its disappearance on loss of habitat. Beach plum preserves continue to be a poplar regional product, but the scarcity of the fruit has led to products being marketed as beach plum preserves that do not actually contain any beach plums. There are only a handful of regional producers that make authentic beach plum preserves, but the tradition lives on in the households that still head out to their secret spots each year, foraging for the fruit, then painstakingly preserving it to share with friends and family.

Bay Scallop

Ark of Taste

The geographical range of the bay scallop is from Cape Cod south along the Atlantic Coast and then throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Bay scallops are harvested commercially with drags from small boats during the season, which usually lasts from November to March. Fresh local bay scallops are considered the sweetest of scallops in US, mainly due to the cold temperature of the waters from which they are harvested. Because of their light, sweet flavor, Bay scallops are best when served close to natural, raw or marinated in lime juice.

Wellfleet Oyster

 

Wellfleet Oyster

Crassostrea virginica

The Wellfleet Oyster is a bivalve marine mollusk that originated in Wellfleet Harbor on Cape Cod, MA. Wellfleet oysters benefit from nutrient rich coastal waters that provide phytoplankton and produce a consistently exceptional oyster. The cold water slows the oyster’s metabolism, which causes the mollusk to build up reserves of glycogen, giving the meat a sweeter flavor. Twice daily as the tides recede, their meats become firmer in texture because they are accustomed to holding their shells tightly closed with each tidal change. Wellfleets take between 2-3 years to mature, and are around 3” in size. Their shells are rough, heavy, and grayish in color. The meat when fresh should appear cream to beige in color and be surrounded by a clear liquid. However, this can vary by harvest location and season. The oysters famed luscious taste can also vary between the six different estuaries in Wellfleet Harbor from which they are harvested. These estuaries are Great Island, Blackfish Creek, Mouth of Blackfish Creek, Loagy Bay, Indian Neck, and Inner Harbor. Each location imparts unique flavor nuances within the oyster, which can be generally categorized as briny, buttery, fruity, and minerally.

Northern Quahog

 

 Northern Quahog

Mercenaria mercenaria

The Northern Quahog is a bivalve marine mollusk that burrows in shallow mud or sand sediment. Its natural range is along the east coast of North America from Prince Edward Island to the Yucatan Peninsula. The quahog has a fairly large, heavy, thick shell with elevated hinges on the narrow end. The color ranges from pale brown to shades of gray white. The ridged shell is covered with growth rings, the interior of the shell is colored a deep purple, and the meat is pink in color. The quahog’s anatomy includes a muscular foot, which assists it when burrowing, and set of long siphons used for respiration, waste elimination, and food gathering. The quahog is a suspension feeder which means that it feeds on small plants and plankton drawn in with the water flow. Reproduction occurs in the Northeast coastal areas in late spring and early summer, when eggs and sperm are sent into the waters; over 24 million eggs are produced during a single spawning.