Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mayhaws, Prized Fruits for Making Jelly

Mayhaw trees grow wild in a small geographical area across southern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The fruits are highly prized and the tart sweet jelly hoarded for special occasions.


Mayhaws are members of the haw or apple family. The trees usually are found growing around ponds.

 



Mayhaws bloom in late March. These are growing behind an area that floods after a heavy rain. The dried plants were duckweed and there are a few inches of water there now.

I read that they grow in and around ponds and bogs to protect the trees from fire. Old trees frequently have dead limbs near the bottom. Fire may sweep across the area when pastures are burned in a controlled burn in a dry year.



Fruit is ripe early May. The fruits are small, about the size of the end of your finger. The skins are more tender than the peel of an apple. The pulp is slightly tart with large seeds for its size, more like the seeds of an apple. The fruits are boiled whole and the juice extracted to make jelly. Commercially prepared jelly is usually pink. Homemade jelly may be a bright red from more concentrated juice and have a better flavor.

14 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of Mayhaws before. Is the jelly tart as well? As mint jelly is eaten with various meat, do you eat this jelly like strawberry or is it an accompaniment to more of a savory dish?

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  2. I bet it is tasty jelly. I have never heard of these either. Thanks for stopping by my blog and no it is not an April Fools day prank, I really am back to blogging.

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  3. These are a type of hawthorn (Crataegus), aren't they Nell Jean? We don't have these particular species here, but that name tricked off something in my noggin. I'm curious that way.

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  4. I failed to say the botanical name is Crategus aestivalis. The trees have wicked thorns. In the wild the size and taste of the fruit varies. I always search out the bigger, sweeter fruits. Hybridization has been done at the research facilities in Tifton, GA. Our ancient trees hybridized themselves.

    The jelly is tart sweet because of all the sugar added to make great breakfast jelly. I have wondered about making a savory jelly by adding hot peppers, to use on crackers with cream cheese.

    I'll follow up in May when the fruits are ripe.

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  5. Oh gosh, this brings back memories! It's probably been 30 years since I've thought about Mayhaws.

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  6. Mayhaws - completely new to me. Have never heard the word or read about them, but I can imagine a tart flavored jelly;-))

    xo Alice

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  7. Our Thomasville friends, brought us some Mayhaw jelly, the last time they were here. It was delicious.

    I haven't seen Mayhaws, though. It makes a pretty little flowering tree.

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  8. Nell, this is a new one for me too.

    I will be very interested in seeing your jelly making in May.

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  9. Hello Nell,

    I have learned so much from reading your blog over these past 6 months. For example, I had never heard of a mayhaw until today. I love tart jellies and hope to try some mayhaw jelly someday :-)

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  10. I'm in the 'I've-never-seen-a-mayhaw' camp. I presume the fruits and jelly would be similar to crab apples?

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  11. Is this the fruit that has sour-sweet flavor? I love to eat it preserved, the fresh one is too sour for me:) This is used for cooking and for medicine in China.

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  12. Dawgawn, I ain't had mayhaw jelly since the Tupelo man passed. The flowers look a bit like some we found when we first moved here. Then the rains became sparser and the little trees disappeared. The back 40's wet enough again this year... reckon I oughta get that pond dug and see what comes up. (It could happen!) 8-]

    Have a JESUS-filled Good Friday!

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  13. I just completed making lots of mayhaw jelly. You make it the same as you would with crab apples. The berries taste like an apple with mango like undertones. The jelly can be used to your taste in any way. I like it on toast, biscuits, and with peanut butter. In my home town in south Mississippi, the mayhaw trees grow wild along the river bank.

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  14. Please add North Florida to your geographic location where mayhaws are growing wild. We have a wonderful stand of approximately 200 trees and were able to harvest over 600 pounds this year. I'm told the trees are up to 50 years old and in a natural wet area that did dry out during the prolonged drought ending in 2009. It is safe to say that less then 1% of the population knows anything about mayhaws.

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I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.



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