The Pacific Northwest is covered with so many hawthorn bushes, they’re considered invasive. But to Molly Payne, the berries on those bushes are powerful medicine – and delicious jam. Don’t try to eat them raw though.
"They don’t actually taste very good, so it usually is for medicinal purposes like making tinctures and syrups and things like that or tea...tea's one of the most common uses for it,” said Payne, who is the project coordinator for Project Feast – a culinary apprenticeship program aimed at helping immigrants and refugees start businesses. She’s gathering berries with an apprentice from Iraq, Nidhal.
Payne usually picks hawthorn berries, which are abundant in Seattle’s Discovery Park, in mid to late fall:
"They're really high in antioxidants, they increase blood flow,” Payne explained. The berries taste like a “tiny, bland apple with a huge pit” when raw.
But Payne has a plan:
"Well, we're going to make jam or jelly. Hawthorn berry jelly."
Payne adds that there’s more to plucking berries with a friend than getting food:
“It's just like a fun process. A fun way to engage with the landscape,” she said. "That's exactly what I love about foraging, is the process."
Molly Payne's Hawthorn Jelly Recipe
Yield: Makes 3-4 jars of jelly
- 2 lb hawthorn berries
- 2 cup sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Wash berries and remove all stems
- Place berries in a food processor to coarsely chop
- Place berries in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1.5hrs until berries are soft
- Pour berries into cheesecloth or jelly bag and stain overnight
- Measure drained hawthorn juice into a saucepan. For every cup of juice add a cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Test in a saucer to see if the juice is solidifying. The top layer of the jelly will wrinkle slightly to the touch.
- Pour into sterilized jelly jars and refrigerate for up to 3 months
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