The Hawthorn (crataegus monogyna) also known as the maythorn, is one of Britain’s ancient trees, often used in hedging, but also found free-standing in fields. Depending on the location, the hawthorn can grow up to 10 metres tall. A deciduous tree, its leaves start to show in early spring and its frothy white blossoms have a distinctive heady scent.
As the blossoms fade, the haws start to develop, growing into bright red berries by autumn and are usually ripe by the time the tree starts to shed its leaves.
Interestingly there is an older form of hawthorn (crataegus laevigata), the Eglish or midland hawthorn. The easiest way to identify the English hawthorn is by its scent, whereas the monogyna smells heavenly, the laevigata can smell rather ‘putrid’.
Hawthorn JellyCourse: Foraging, RecipesDifficulty: Medium
This recipe makes approx 1 standard size 190ml jar of jelly – we normally collect around 10 lbs of berries to make 6 jars.
1.5 lbs Hawthorn Berries
Juice of 1 Lemon
1.5 Pints of Water
Sugar (see below for quantity)
- Collect 1.5 lbs of hawthorn berries (haws). This makes approx 1 jar of hawthorn jelly, so if you need more you will need to pick a lot more fruit – it can be time-consuming, but the end result is well worth the effort.
Note: we normally collect around 10 lbs of berries for 6 jars.
- Clean all the stalks from the berries, wash and let them drain.
A good way to remove the stalks is to simply roll a clump of berries (stalks and all) between your hands, and you’ll find the berries just drop off.
- Put the berries in a large heavy saucepan (jam pan) and cover with the water.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour, stirring from time to time. You can also mash the berries with a potato masher ever 20 mins to help break up the pulp.
- Now strain the pulp overnight into a clear bowl using some muslin or a jelly bag.
To keep the jelly clear don’t be tempted to squeeze the pulp bag, just let the juice drip. If you’re not bothered whether your jelly is clear or not then you can squeeze the pulp to speed up the process.
- For every 1 pint of juice measure 1 lb of sugar. We have experimented with using less sugar and found the flavour of the hawthorn is much stronger and less sweet, but remember the sugar is a preservative and makes the jelly last longer.
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon and mix with the sugar into a heavy saucepan along with the hawthorn juice. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved.
Rapid boil for approx 10 minutes until the jelly has reached setting point.
- Skim off any foam from the top of the jelly liquid, and pour into sterilised, warm jars and screw on the lids.
When set, the jelly can be eaten straight away, but have found it’s best to leave for at least a month.
- This recipe makes approx 1 standard size 190ml jar of jelly – we normally collect around 10 lbs of berries to make 6 jars.
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