How To Use Dried Hawthorn Berries – Hawthorn berry picking is new to me this year. They are sweet and mild if you get them at just the right time, and in years past I have tasted them too early in fall. This year, Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But then, one-seeded hawthorn started to rot, so next year I’ll be looking for those in mid-October.
I owe some credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post for inspiring me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh points out, there are many hawthorn species, perhaps 50 in New England. And, in all of 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
How To Use Dried Hawthorn Berries
, my favorite guide to learning tree ID). Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to identify particular species. You just need to know it’s 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.
Dried Hawthorn Slices For Brewing Tea On White Background Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 75387585
Why bother with hawthorns? They are beautiful, interesting and delicious wild edibles with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I have yet to try this. Berries, leaves and flowers can be used to make tea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how I make hawthorn berry extract.
I will describe two species here, to exemplify the general characteristics. That should help you recognize a hawthorn when you see one, but i
If you are not sure you have hawthorn when eating, please check with additional sources until you ARE sure, before eating the berries.
This grows as a small tree or large shrub, and bears clusters of white flowers in late spring. The berries turn red in September (here), but sweeten later. By October 31st, they were sweet, and maybe a little past peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.
Organic Hawthorn Berry (freeze Dried)
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 thorns, up to about 3 inches in length. However, with reasonable caution, you can easily harvest the berries that tend to hang off a branch. It’s even easier later in the season after many of the leaves have fallen and the thorns are no longer in the way.
Also called common hawthorn, this 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 do 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 seem 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 (than Washington hawthorn) in the fall and contain a single seed (hence the name). The serrated leaves are more deeply lobed than those of Washington hawthorn, but the spines are much smaller, only about 1/2 inch to an inch in length.
Hawthorns are common in the forest understory here in Massachusetts, but these are scrawny specimens that don’t fruit well. It’s too shady in the forest. To find fruit-laden hawthorns, look in sunny areas, such as brushy fields and thickets, at pasture edges and along streams. They are often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and doesn’t mind picking a few berries, you have an easy foraging experience at your fingertips.
This is my first experience using hawthorn berries, and I am using them to make an extract, using the same process you would use to make vanilla extract. I hope to use hawthorn extract as a flavoring agent in cooking and baking. I filled a clean canning jar about 3/4 full with berries, covered them with 80 proof vodka and covered the jar. I’m not sure how long it takes to get enough flavor out of the berries, so I’ll check it daily. I know other extracts, (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so that’s what I’m expecting here. Hawthorn has a long history of use in traditional Western herbal medicine and is much loved for its affinity for the heart. The red berries of
Wild Greek Hawthorn Whole Dried Berries
Has been an ingredient in jams, wines, tarts and candies for centuries. A member of the rose family, hawthorn is a large shrub covered in sharp thorns. Sometimes spelthawthorne, the berries are picked fully ripe in autumn before the first frost. Hawthorn berry is often macerated in herbal vinegars and syrups, infused with cranberry tea, or used in dyeing.
Hawthorn leaf, flower and berry have been praised over the centuries for their heart-strengthening properties. Believed to elevate and strengthen both the physical and emotional heart, hawthorn, because it supports healthy cardiovascular function, has also been revered for ceremonial and spiritual purposes. The delicious red berries have been used in candies, jams, jellies, wines and cordials and are widely available in many forms as dietary supplements.
Is a thorny shrub or tree with stems and trunks that consist of hard wood and gray bark, often having three-lobed leaves and white flowers that are similar to other genera in the Rosaceae family and bearing bright red berries. There are approximately 280 known species, several of which are used in traditional medicine and can be used interchangeably. In general,
Is derived from the Greek “kratos”, meaning hardness and referring to the wood, “oxcus” which means “sharp”, and “akantha” which is a thorn. In several countries in Europe, especially Germany, the hawthorn was used as a hedge, “haw” being an older term for “hedge”. This shrub was also referred to as “whitethorn” because of its light bark.
Hawthorn Berry Tea
Most of the hawthorn that is cultivated for commercial purposes is obtained from the United Kingdom and other countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, and Poland. Collect the flowering branches in spring, as all parts (leaves, twigs, spikes, flowers) can be used for fresh dyeing. Or if drying, discard stems and thorns. The berries are best harvested in autumn when they are fully ripe, and before the first frost.
Hawthorn has been used since the Middle Ages, with some accounts going back as far as the first century to Greek herbalist Dioscorides. It was later used by Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493-1541 AD). Considered a particularly symbolic tree with many folktales and magical myths surrounding it, hawthorn was “sacred tree medicine” to the ancient Druids, and is said to house fairies, specifically when growing with oak and ash. However, it was unlucky to bring the flowers into the house, quite possibly because they would bring the fairies with them. Hawthorn sprigs and flowers were incorporated into the wedding crown symbolizing chastity and ensuring prosperity at Greek weddings and were also used to decorate altars worshiping the goddess of marriage, Hymena. In Ireland, couples wanting the blessing of a hawthorn would dance around it at wedding ceremonies. The sprigs were attached to the cradles of newborns to protect them from evil and also used to decorate the maypole for the May Day or Beltane ceremony, which celebrated fertility and renewal. The flowering of this tree coincided with the first day of summer, which happened in May.
In the traditional medicine of Europe all parts of the tree were appreciated and used: leaves, berries, flowers, and the wood. The flowers were used as a cardiac tonic and diuretic, and the berries and leaves were made into an astringent tea to soothe throats. The bright red bountiful berries have also been transformed into a delicious brandy cordial. Additionally, the wood was carved into smaller objects such as boxes and combs and burned as fuel producing wood fires that were extremely hot.
Hawthorn or “shanzha” has been used in TCM since ancient times, however most historical uses were related to digestion until recently. It is considered energetically slightly warm, associated with the spleen, stomach and liver meridians, and reflects both sweet and sour tastes. Nowadays, it is also used to support the cardiovascular system, and in fact, in China, the berries are so popular that they are made into hawthorn candies, which are similar to the “fruit rolls” in the West.
Hawthorn Berry, Used For The Treatment Of Blood Pressure (the Silent Killer) With The Ability To Lower The Blood Pressure Without Any Of The Side Effects Experienced From Conventional Medicines
Hawthorn is considered a superior heart tonic by many herbalists. However, its effects on the heart are numerous. Many consider hawthorn to be transformative for the emotional or spiritual heart as well. Herbalist Matthew Becker suggests that hawthorn is specifically helpful for women with “broken hearts” ie. for those “feeling hurt and injured.” Often the flowers and leaves are made into flower essences to treat these types of emotional issues. Hawthorn is considered slightly hot energetically and both sour and sweet in taste.
Precautions Please note that Hawthorn Berries will sometimes develop a white film on the berry. This is natural sucrose ripening in the outer skin. We recommend that you consult a qualified healthcare professional