I love this sweet, smoothly textured, wild hawthorn fruit jam and it went down a treat with participants on my autumn foraging course too. Read on to recipe!
Haw berries - the fruits of the hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna) - have long been used as medicine in the East and West, as well as used as a wild food.
Their taste is mild and unimpressive when eaten raw off the tree - think soft apple or apple peel. However, once cooked and flavoured these berries can be turned into a delicious jam, with a lovely texture of pureed fruit.
My three favourite recipes for transforming haw berries or 'haws' are; hawthorn berry ketchup, hawthorn and apple fruit leather and this jam which can be spread on bread or used in desserts. Oh, and I also make a punchy, medicinal Hawthorn berry schnapps!
The benefits of eating haws
I've written about the benefits of eating and using hawthorn berries and my personal motivation for using them here - why eat haw berries.
Are all hawthorns edible?
Hawthorns are a large plant family with a variety of different species, all bearing fruit. Each hawthorn produces an edible fruit, though the taste and size can vary a lot.
For example, Chinese hawthorn fruits (Crataegus pinnatifida) have a tart flavour and look like crab apples. While several of the native species in North America look very different to our native Hawthorn tree here in the UK.
Across the world these fruits are used for jam, jellies, sweet treats and for flavouring alcohol. In This recipe I have created fits nicely into this International theme.
Haw Berry and Star Anise Jam Recipe
This is a lovely, thick textured jam, or more like a mildly flavoured dark red fruit puree. It makes a great filling for jam tarts and goes well with cream cheese. I love it plain, though the star anise adds a gorgeous sweetness and added layer to it.
Make one jar (230 g)
- 250 g (2 cups) haw berries
- 2 star anise (optional)
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) water
- 120 g (1 cup) soft brown sugar
Place the haws, star anise and the water in a small pan, bring to the boil, cover and turn down to a low simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat. Place a sieve over a large heatproof bowl, the sieve should fit snuggly within it. Pour the haws and liquid into the sieve and using the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the pieces of star anise and mash the fruits through the sieve. Do this for about 10 minutes; enabling as much fruit flesh to be obtained from the haws, leaving the seeds behind in the sieve.
Next, weigh the fruit pulp and add the sugar. There should be about 150- 175 g of pulp and for every 25 g add 20 g of sugar, for example, 150g of fruit pulp will require 120 g of sugar. Place the fruit pulp, sugar in a clean, medium saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5-10 minutes, or until it reaches jam boiling point. To test if it is thick enough, take a teaspoon of the mixture and place on a clean plate, after a few minutes push the spoon into the edge of the jam, it should wrinkle at the edges when ready. Pour into a clean, sterilised jar until ready to use.