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One of the best things in life for me is finding food when you are out and about on a walk. And at this time of year there is an abundance of free food to forage for in the hedgerows and trees. The blackberries and rose hips are prominent in bushes. But today I am going to show you how to make Hawthorn jelly from haws found up in the hawthorn trees.
Why not make a few jars to give as Christmas gifts?
How To Make Hawthorn Jelly
The hawthorn tree has been used for thousands of years to produce food and medicines. As a very common tree in Northern Europe and USA, you can easily find one in your neighbourhood.
The leaves, flowers and berries from this bush can all be used to make a wide range of teas, wines and jams. Now, hawthorn haws are really quite bitter, and the hard seeds in the centre contain cyanide, so you really shouldn’t eat them raw. But the rest of the berry is perfectly fine once cooked. In fact, the finished hawthorn jelly is reputed to be good for heart issues and kidney problems. This is due to the nutrients contained within, including antioxidants, flavonoids, and vitamins B and C. However, it may still be wise to exercise caution or seek medical advice if you have a known medical issue or are pregnant.
Today I am going to show you how to make Hawthorn Jelly from the bright red berries (otherwise known as haws) that are widely available on the trees from the end of August through to the end of October.
In fact the best time to collect the haws is probably slightly later on in the season. But I found a wonderful tree in our local park where the berries were really red and plentiful. So I picked a box load and decided to make some hawthorn jelly for myself right now.
You Will Need
- Some hawthorn berries
- Lemon juice
- An old jar
- A saucepan and potato masher.
Making The Jelly
Here are my berries. Just over 1lb (450g) worth of haws. I removed the leaves and (most of the) stalks.
I placed the berries into a large heavy saucepan, and just covered the berries with water, which I then brought to the boil.
As you bring the water to the boil, the berries first turn brown, then go mushy. Simmer the pot of haws for at least an hour. I used a potato masher to help along the mushing down of the berries. And I kept stirring and adding water ever now and again to ensure the mixture stayed wet, but not too watery. After an hour of simmering, the berries had completely disintegrated.
You can use a jam strainer to strain the liquid from the haw mixture. But i used just a standard kitchen sieve and a muslin cloth. Leave to drain for a good couple of hours, or overnight if you have a lot of mixture. Do not squeeze the mixture or disturb the sieve during draining or you will end up with a cloudy juice. And this will make the jelly cloudy too.
I got 1/4 pint or just over 150mls of juice once my haws had drained. This juice still tastes very bitter, so it is time to add the sugar and lemon juice to create the jelly.
For every pint (Approx 570ml) of juice you get from the haws, add a pound (450g) of sugar. I got 1/4 pint, so I added 4 oz of sugar (just over 100g) – i also added a tablespoon of lemon juice to my mix.
Bring this mixture to the boil. And once it does start boiling, simmer the mixture for a few minutes. Pretty soon you will start to see the mixture start to thicken. This is called the setting point. No extra pectin is needed as there is plenty in the haw juice.
You can check whether your jelly has reached the setting point by blobbing a bit of the mixture onto a cold plate. If after a couple of minutes the mixture has set slightly, then you are ready to fill your jars.
Whilst the jelly mix was simmering, I placed my old jam jar for the jelly into a hot oven to heat and sterilise it.
Then, once the setting point had been reached, I took the hot jar out of the oven, and carefully filled the hot jar with the cooling jelly mixture.
The Finished Jelly
Has a floral yet slightly woody taste, a very delicate taste really. It is the perfect accompaniment to cheese and strong meats. So why not make several jar loads, and give them as gifts for Christmas?
Sadly I didn’t get a full jar of hawthorn jelly this time. Next time I will pick more haws!
But how to present a homemade jar of hawthorn jelly? Just cut a large circle of pretty fabric, and use and elastic or tie when placing this over the top of your old jam jar, and you have a perfect homemade gift!
Do you love natural recipes? Check out my post on Dandelion Recipes.
Do you think that you will be having a go at making your own hawthorn jelly? Do let me know how you get on in the comments, or via social media.
And please do pin this post for later.