When we see the clusters of bright red hawthorn berries across the hedgerows, we instantly know it’s the fall season. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, hawthorn has a lot of interesting culinary uses that we’ll uncover in this article. Let’s get started!
What is Hawthorn Fruit?
Hawthorn, also known as quickthorn, hawthorn apple, haw berry, or May-tree, belongs to the genus Crataegus that contains hundreds of shrubs and tree species. Every part of the hawthorn plant is edible from the leaves to the fruits to the flowers. The fruits of hawthorn, also called haw, grow in berry-like clusters and are apple-like in appearance. The color of fruit varies from yellow to red and black. The seeds of hawthorn resemble peach stones, and must not be consumed because of their high cyanide content.
Besides its culinary applications, hawthorn is quite popular as an ornamental plant, yielding flowers in bulk in a range of colors from pink to white to red depending on the species. Moreover, they’re planted as hedgerow trees in Europe, North America, North Africa, and Asia. As they flower in late spring, this plant is also known as the May tree.
Taste of Hawthorn Fruit
Ripe hawthorn berries are tart, tangy, and slightly sweet in flavor. Their texture is dense and dry that leaves an astringent feeling on the palate. They’re more often used to make preserves, syrups, and teas.
Uses of Hawthorn Fruit
Since hawthorn berries are very sour to taste, they are not usually eaten out of hand. Instead, they are widely leveraged into preserves, jams, chutneys, and dips. Most importantly, this fruit is used to prepare many ketchup varieties from hedgerow to hawthorn ketchup, and organic HP tomato ketchup. You can try out this ketchup recipe that’s sweet, sour, spicy, and perfectly compliments BBQs and sandwiches.
Contrary, if you’re looking to make a sweeter haw sauce to pair with desserts, we recommend following this guide that yields delicious fruit sauces.
Interestingly, the leaves and flowers of hawthorn plants are also used in cooking and herbal medicines. You can toss some fresh hawthorn leaves in salads along with other greens for added nutrition, and taste. For instance, our recipe for Green Bean Salad would benefit from thinly chopped haw leaves.
The Hawthorn plant is very popular for making beverages like teas, wines, and juices. In some parts of the world, this fruit is made into snacks, for instance, the Mexican candy, rielitos, is made from hawthorn paste, sugar, and chili powder. Similarly, Chinese haw flakes, which are simply sugar-coated hawthorn berries skewered onto a stick, are a popular snack. In Southern America, hawthorn jelly is considered a delicacy that’s specially prepared from the local hawthorn fruit species called mayhaw.