Friday, April 29, 2011

Mayhaw Foraging

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 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 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 (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?


  1. Wow, fascinating!! I had never heard of them either! I love mulberries though .. ooh, and gooseberries - my grandparents used to grow both of those. :) So how do you find trees that are free to forage?? Are they one your property somewhere, or something? So curious!

  2. Hey April,
    These particular trees were on campus. Campuses, city parks and apartment complexes frequently use fruiting trees in their landscaping without giving the fruit a thought (or occasionally just to be nice to people like us). Here there seem to be a number of Loquats, Citrus trees and Mulberries; in the North we saw June berries, Apples, Russian Olives, Black Locust(edible flowers) and Mulberries.
    Once people hear we like collecting they often tell us about more places they know of where fruit is free for the taking. Ask around and you might find something new!

  3. How cool, I'll have to look into that! :)

  4. Your blog is always so interesting. Two new foods in two days. :)

  5. OK, I just learned about 5,000 things. That was awesome! Such pretty pictures, too!

  6. Those are so cool--I'm gonna have to look them up now!

  7. You guys are so adventurous! I love reading about all your new fruit and plant discoveries. Have you eaten anything that made you sick?

  8. They do look like mini pomegranates! I love to snack on sheep sorrel when we go out on walks, but in small amounts, I love the idea of foraging for free foods!


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