This post is part of the UK Herbarium blog party on “Herbal treasures in March“, kindly hosted by Brigitte.

photo by swan-scot

A friend just emailed me this question: what can I do with hawthorn berries? (she’s surrounded by fruiting hawthorns), so here’s a list:

1. make a herbal vinegar, same process as this. Hawthorn berry vinegar is one of the tasty vinegars – tart and fruity. Try a tablespoon in a glass of water.

2. make a liqueur – plain or fancy (down the bottom of the page. There’s also an interesting savoury sauce recipe). A plain schnapps of hawthorn is basically a tincture, but you can use a lower strength alcohol (which makes it cheaper).

3. make a tincture. Hawthorn berry tincture is a world renowned heart and circulatory system tonic (even the scientists are catching on). Taken over months, it is considered a safe remedy that helps a range of heart problems. I also find the tincture helpful for the emotional heart when grieving – it seems to lighten things and allow the process to move with more ease.

4. make an aperitif (the Chinese have historically used hawthorn as a digestive aid, and it is considered especially good for meat meals).

5. you can also make an infusion.

6. make hawthorn jelly. I haven’t done this (not being a jam maker) but I have a friend who makes some every year and it tastes pretty yummy. There seem to be two different kinds of recipes – those that include apples or crabapples, and those that are hawthorn berry only. I’d be interested to hear any experiences with that. I ate my friend’s jelly as a sweet on oatcakes, but it would also go with meat and help with digestion.

7. eat the berries straight from the tree. Sometimes they are too dry inside, but other trees or other times yield a pleasant walking snack. I suspect that trees with adequate water have better tasting berries. Hawthorn berries are full of goodies:

8. make fruit leather. This Eating British guy in the UK had a go, but with variable results. Hawthorn berries dry pretty easily, so maybe the mould problem he gets is because he adds water. I might have a go with the leftover berries from making vinegar (ooh, sweet and sour fruit leather). Cooking the berries in the smallest amount of water might be the way to go too.

9. unfortunately google has no hawthorn berry ice cream recipes, so I will just have to make one…

10. make anything you usually do with fruit. I’ve seen recipes for hawthorn berry chutney and hawthorn berry wine.

11. make a poultice. Juliette de Bairacli Levy says the pulped raw fruits are “of high repute as a drawing remedy for deeply embedded splinters and thorns and for whitlows” (from Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, but that will work on humans too).

12. make magic. Hawthorn in Europe/the UK has a long tradition of magical uses that seem to centre around protection. If you’re not into the hippy/pagany aspects, you can use hawthorn to help you focus on what’s good or what needs healing etc.

hawthorn berry vinegar

If you are having spring not autumn right now, you’ll be pleased to know that hawthorn flowers and leaves are also very useful and much of what is true about the berries works for the spring plant too (with a few adjustments).