When Are Hawthorn Berries Ripe

When Are Hawthorn Berries Ripe – Harvesting hawthorn berries is new to me this year. They’re sweet and mild if you get them at the right time, and in years past I’ve had them very early in the fall. This year, Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by then, the hawthorn had started to rot, so next year I’ll look for them in mid-October.

I owe some credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent Hawthorn post, 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, probably a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his excellent Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees

When Are Hawthorn Berries Ripe

, my favorite guide to learning the ID tree). Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to identify specific species. You just need to know it’s hawthorn, because all hawthorns have edible berries. However, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten. Do not panic; just spit out the seeds.

Hawthorn Bush Ripe

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 haven’t tried it yet. 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 show the general characteristics. This will help you recognize a hawthorn when you see one, but i

If you’re not sure you have hawthorn when foraging, check with additional sources until you’re 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 31st, they were sweet, and maybe a little past the peak. Each berry has 3-5 seeds.

Hawthorn: Foraging And Using

The leaves are lobed and toothed, as you can see in my photo above. Many other species of hawthorn have similar leaves. The tree is heavily armed with long thorns, up to about 3 inches in length. However, with reasonable care, you can easily pick the berries, which tend to hang off the branch. It’s even easier later in the season after many of the leaves have fallen and are no longer hiding the thorns.

Also called common hawthorn, it is a European native that has escaped cultivation and naturalized in North America. It’s sometimes labeled as an invasive plant, but I don’t find it very often, and when I do, it’s not much 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 blooms in late spring. The oval red berries ripen slightly earlier (than Washington hawthorn) in the fall and contain a single seed (hence the name). The toothed leaves are more deeply lobed than those of Washington hawthorn, but the spines are much smaller, only about 1/2 inch to one inch long.

Hawthorns are common in the forest understory here in Massachusetts, but these are weak specimens that don’t fruit well. It is very shady in the forest. To find fruiting hawthorns, look in sunny spots such as brushy fields and thickets, at the edges of pastures and along streams. They are often planted as ornamentals, so if your friend has one and you don’t mind picking berries, you have an easy foraging experience on your hands.

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 in cooking and baking. I filled a clean canning jar about 3/4 full with berries, covered them with 80 proof vodka and sealed the jar. I’m not sure how long it will take to extract enough flavor from the berries, so I’ll be checking it daily. I know other extracts, (like vanilla extract) take weeks, so that’s what I’m waiting for here.

Green Hawthorn Delivers A Brilliant Show Of Berries

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