Hawthorn Berry Schnapps
Schnapps is a flavoured and distilled alcoholic drink, the flavour is often fruit, the alcohol often brandy. I came across a hawthorn schnapps recipe a couple of years ago, I can't quite remember where. I'm often looking for different recipes for the plants that I pick regularly and this sounded like a great idea to try.
Why make Hawthorn Schnapps??
The berries of the hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna) are renown for their health-giving properties, especially for the heart. Hawthorn supports the heart's physical functions and is safe to use to help prevent or recover from a heart attack. The berries also contains vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B17 and vitamin C. Always seek advice from a medical professional before using hawthorn if you have; a heart condition, are pregnant or have low blood pressure.
There is a history of heart issues on both sides of my family, and my darling, aging dad continues to struggle with his under-performing heart. So I find myself eating, using and rather passionate about hawthorn berries. From a personal point of view, a second motivation for making this recipe is that my dad really enjoys a tipple, especially at family gatherings and special occasions. With Christmas on the way, and knowing how experiencing pleasure is so, so good for our health, I definitely wanted to make this!
I've enjoyed commercially made Schnapps a handful of times. Once, when hiking in Austria and I received the news that my friend Hilary had just given birth back in the UK. I celebrated that evening with a strong Peach Schnapps and later with a few variations offered by a group of German climbers I befriended there. I've also enjoyed it with a German friend of mine who now lives here in Cornwall. Notice a theme? The word Schnapps actually derives from Germany, its meaning being 'strong alcoholic drink'. Fruits used to flavour schnapps are often: pear, apple, cherry, peach or plum. Hawthorn berries felt like a good, wild berry to try as a replacement.
Schnapps is normally drunk in small, shot glasses. It's strong!
How to make Hawthorn Schnapps or Hawthorn Tincture
This is so simple to make. Here I share a few tips that might be useful. Just to be clear, this isn't a distilling recipe, this is a recipe for flavouring alcohol and extracting the goodness of the hawthorn berries into brandy. If you prefer, you can use this recipe as a tincture, and take five drops to a teaspoon instead of a shot!
- Bottle of brandy
- Hawthorn berries
- Sugar (optional)
I like my brandy medicinal, so I literally just use brandy and hawthorn berries and don't add sugar. Do add a little sugar if you'd prefer a hawthorn liqueur. Steep the berries in brandy (fill a jar or bottle 2/3 full with berries and cover with the brandy) for at least 2 weeks. I completely forgot about mine - I'm not a big drinker - and left it for one year! It still works and tastes great. Strain off the berries and decant into a clear bottle or brown bottle.
My brandy turned brown (orangey when strained) because I picked the berries when mature and late in the season. If you would like a cleaner colour use berries before they go soft and a dark red, and pick in September rather than November!
Other hawthorn recipes
You might want to take a look at this fantastic Hawthorn Berry Ketchup Recipe, or this Hawthorn, Apple and Honey Fruit Leather Recipe. I also share my latest recipes, processes and knowledge on my wild food foraging courses and regularly post on my facebook and instagram pages.