Fresh Picked Hawthorn Berries – Hawthorn berry picking is new to me this year. They are sweet and delicate if you take them at the right time, and in years past I was tasting them too early in the fall. This year, Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by that point, the single-seeded hawthorn was starting to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for those in mid-October.
I owe some credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent post on hawthorn, which inspired me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh points out, there are many species of hawthorn, perhaps 50 in New England. And, across North America, perhaps a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his wonderful book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees
Fresh Picked Hawthorn Berries
, my favorite guide to learning tree ID). Fortunately, it is not necessary to be able to identify particular species. You just have to know that it is a hawthorn, because all hawthorns have edible berries. HOWEVER, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten. Don’t panic; just spit out the seeds.
Products: Hawthorn Berries Dried
Why bother with hawthorns? They are beautiful, interesting and tasty wild edibles with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I have yet to try it. Berries, leaves and flowers can all be used to make tea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how I’m making hawthorn berry extract.
I will describe two species here, to exemplify the general characteristics. This should help you recognize a hawthorn when you see one, but me
If you are unsure if you have a hawthorn when foraging, check with additional sources until you are sure before eating the berries.
It grows as a small tree or large shrub and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. Berries turn red in September (here), but sweeten later. By October 31 they were sweet and maybe slightly over the peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
Amazon.com: Eclectic Institute Raw Fresh Freeze Dried Non Gmo Hawthorn Berry
The leaves are lobed and toothed, as you can see in my photo above. Many other hawthorn species have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long spines, up to about 3 inches long. However, with reasonable caution, you can easily pick the berries, which tend to hang from the branch. It is even easier later in the season, after many leaves have fallen and no longer obscure the thorns.
Also called common hawthorn, it is a European native that escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It is sometimes labeled as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often and when I see it, there isn’t much of it in one area. It may be invasive in other parts of the country, but it doesn’t appear to be particularly aggressive here. Like Washington hawthorn, single-seeded hawthorn grows as a shrub or small tree and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. The oval red berries ripen a little earlier (compared to Washington hawthorn) in the fall and contain only one seed (hence the name). The toothed leaves are more deeply lobed than those of Washington hawthorn, but the spines are much smaller, only 1/2 inch to one inch long.
Hawthorns are common in the forest undergrowth here in Massachusetts, but they are lean specimens that don’t bear fruit well. It is too shady in the forest. To find fruit-laden hawthorns, look in sunny places, such as shrub fields and thickets, at the edges of pastures and along streams. They are often planted as ornamental, so if your friend has one and you don’t mind picking a few berries, you have an easy foraging experience on hand.
This is my first experience with hawthorn berries and I am using them to make an extract, with the same process you would use to make vanilla extract. I hope to use hawthorn extract as a condiment in cooking and baking. I filled a clean jar about 3/4 full with berries, covered them with 80 degree vodka and capped the jar. I’m not sure how long it will take to get enough flavor out of the berries, so I’ll check it every day. I know that other extracts, (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so that’s what I expect here. «Autumn walks and lots of” mushrooms “. | main | Game start! And a partridge without a pear tree. “
Fresh Picked Berries From A Hawthorn, Thornapple, May Tree, Whitethorn, Or Hawberry Bush (crataegus Stock Photo
I have never been too fond of hawthorn, as far as trees are concerned. As a child I found that it was not really one to climb because of its thorny, bush-shaped branches created impenetrable boundaries across the countryside that often hindered my travels wherever I went, oh the obstacles! Why have thorns? It wasn’t like he had anything worth stealing … or so I thought.
As I grew up, so did my appreciation for the humble hawthorn. When you think about it, three uses come to mind: all year round it has excellent firewood, when it burns it gives off enough heat to melt raw (pork) iron. In spring, its leaves (often the first to appear) are a useful addition to any meal. The third is its berries which form in bright red clusters in the fall and have some rather strange properties.
So, in addition to being employed as a primitive barbed wire fence, what makes hawthorn useful as part of the wild pantry?
In my youth, hawthorn leaves were famous for curing that annoying feeling of an empty stomach, something I often experienced on my way home for tea. No problem, just reach out to the hedge carefully and pick up a few to chew on. The ability of the leaves to churn out such a wonderful nourishment and fulfillment of the belly over the centuries has not earned it the name of “bread and cheese”. Apparently this means he has equivalent livelihood levels … I’m not too sure. So anyway, the leaves are good and probably give their best in spring.
Impressive Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry
The buds, while a little complicated, can be quite tasty, but it will take some time to harvest. I like to use the leaves as part of a classic spring hedge salad. As with many Chinese leaf varieties found in salad bowls or seed packs these days, our native plants can be used alike, they have an abundance of different flavors that need to be paired with a little help from the five. points of taste; sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami. In this case umami doesn’t really come into play unless you add Maggi or another salty / protein ingredient to the dressing, which works very well. Obviously we will have to wait until next spring to enjoy this salad at its best.
Gather a handful or more if you feel like sharing and wash them well. Arrange in bowls and use a simple dressing of olive oil, a sprinkling of sugar, salt and pepper. This way you can really taste the diversity of the British hedge and I think you will be quite impressed.
I tried them once at an early age and didn’t like them at all, too dry, the fruit / stone ratio was junk and there wasn’t much flavor either. That changed when last Christmas I was given an interesting book: Wild Food by Ray Mears. In his book there was a sequence of photos showing Ray-ray (as we like to call him) making moves on a hawthorn bush and collecting obscene quantities of berries, while I was all smug; “Why the hell do you care? What do you hope to achieve with them! Then I was completely put in my place. Ray started mashing all the berries in a glass bowl, adding some water and removing most of the seeds and stems. The result was a hardened hawthorn jelly in a bowl that can be sliced and dried in the sun for future consumption. Ray had some that he had “made before” and commenting on saying that he tasted like apple licorice. Right … I have to give this ago.
With the appearance of hawthorn berries covering every hedge in Sussex, it didn’t take long to get a decent booty to experiment with. When I took it to the kitchen, I started mashing them in a bowl and found that I had to add quite a bit of water to make their juices work. The resulting brown / red goo looked pretty nasty and bloody messy! I was worried that due to the amount of mess I had made during the sifting process, my girlfriend might come home and think I had a bowel accident. Once I sifted the berries until I had a ball of pits left, the mush that was now a small glass bowl had already begun to harden to the same level as the butter it just came out of the fridge.
Hawthorn Magical Properties
I soon found that gelatin forms fast due to the ridiculously high levels of pectin in hawthorn berries. Hips and haws have always been paired as they prowl around