On Sunday, encouraged by our success with the loquats, Nathanael and I trekked to where he had seen a mulberry tree; alas, the tree was bare. I suppose others (perhaps birds) were hungry for the mulberries. However, just a couple of hundred feet away were two trees of another variety, both loaded with attractive ripe red fruits.
We weren't sure what they were, but their morphology led us to believe them to be related to a number of delicious fruits....so we agreed to only eat one each. (Actually the first thing out of my mouth was,"They look like baby pomegranates!" But they really do have their own vaugely apple-y look.)
The flesh was very soft, and tangy. It was sweet too, but mostly tangy...you probably wouldn't really want to eat very many of these fruits plain if you want to keep a settled stomach. Nathanael thought they might be mayhaws, but we still weren't sure.
Since we already had the box he'd prepared for mulberries, we decided to pick a bunch anyway; if they turned out not to be edible the only thing we would lose was our time. And after all, fruit collecting is a wonderful and addicting activity, so even if the fruit was no good, the time would be delightful.
And mayhaws they were. That coveted Southern jelly making fruit, which I would describe as a mix between a crabapple and a rosehip.
(I had not heard of mayhaws until a few days ago, so you're not alone...but isn't my husband a clever fellow?)
Lovely little fruits.
Did any of you notice I wore the same yellow shirt while picking loquats too? I love that shirt. I wear it all of the time. My sister Melissa, shirt dye-r officianado, gave it to me for Christmas. She has other comfy shirt's she's created in her shop, Everyone Original.
Nathanael lined a Priority Mail shipping box with a paper bag and it made such a nice container for our harvest.
We collected two gallons of mayhaws (not even close to cleaning the trees), and I have since turned them into 33 cups of sweet and tangy jams and jellies. I mixed some of the recipes from mayhaw.org (who knew, right?) and my pectin boxes and did my own thing. Boiling the fruit, using the clear juice for jelly, then reboiling the pulp and straining it through a wider weave for jam.
As far as I can tell, Southerners in the US only utilize mayhaws in the jelly form, but one of my friends from Beijing told me about a haw fruit from a different tree in the hawthorn family. In China it is used widely in all kinds of savory and sweet foods, but most loved (especially in Beijing) coated with a candy layer and sold on a stick much like our candy apples. It goes by the name of bing tanghulu. (Also, check out it's wiki: tanghulu)
If harvesting garden vegetables while my family continues to experience snow storms didn't make me feel like I'm in a foreign land, discovering all of these unfamiliar fruits sure does. What other fruits grown in the United States that I've been missing out on?