I am loving hawthorn berries this year. This is the first year I’ve had them (!) and I can’t get enough. I love eating them raw off the tree, and now I am doing all sorts of things to try to preserve them.
In Chinese medicine hawthorn berries, or Shan Zha, were used for thousands of years to benefit digestion. Western herbalists used hawthorn to benefit the heart and circulation. The Chinese recently did their own studies on this and found indeed that hawthorn is very beneficial to the heart. Now the hawthorn is used both ways in the East.
Below is a simple vinegar I am making by steeping hawthorn berries in apple cider vinegar. I will leave it at least 6 weeks. The berries are coming above the vinegar so if they don’t drop into the vinegar in a day or so I may crush the berries to see if that helps. It’s best to have them submerged so they don’t mold. Also, I used a plastic lid…metal corrodes with vinegar.
I doubt this soda will last too long…I boiled hawhorn berries and crabapples in water and added a bit of sugar. Then I strained the fruit out (saving it, I then mashed the fruit for the fruit butter, below), let it cool and added my “ginger bug”, which is a fermented mixture of ginger and sugar. (You’ll find info on making a ginger bug here.)
In 24 - 48 hours it may be ready: fizzy and slightly less sweet from the microbes eating the sugar in the drink and fermenting into a soda.
Below I mashed and strained the fruits through a sieve, removing the skins and seeds. Then I added some pumpkin pie spice and sugar and reheated it. After boiling I put it in jars.
Next I plan on making my first shrub, or vinegar drink. I am going to try to do the cold shrub process, which I read in this article. I never made a shrub before. The article explains there are a couple ways to make it and the author suggests this cold process keeps the fruit flavors “brighter” and “purer.”
After a couple days in the fridge the sugar should have drawn out a lot of syrup, which I can strain and squeeze through a jelly bag. To that I will add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar and keep it in the fridge. This syrup is great in seltzer water (or alcohol, though I prefer the seltzer.)
What wild edible are you enjoying this time of year?
Talk to you soon. This week is the final week of our CSA. Stay tuned for a list of all the amazing wild foods we tried this year (around 70 different things last I tallied.) And if you’re not signed up for the newsletter (with ebooks) please sign up (upper right…green box.) I’m sending an actual new newsletter out soon and I don’t want you to miss it!