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Hawthorn berries: delicious and healthy for humans and animals

When autumn begins, hawthorn berries glow red in the hedges.

Cooking transforms hawthorn berries

Not many people know that hawthorn berries are edible. Raw the fruit pulp has a mealy consistency, but cooking transforms them bringing out their pleasantly sweet-sour flavour. You could turn hawthorn berries into compote, jelly, juice, syrup or chutney. Or combine them with other fruit such as apples, quinces and elderberries. Stewed to a dry ‘hawthorn butter’ hawthorn berries are delicious on bread and add a special flavour to muesli and yoghurt. To make hawthorn butter, stew the fruit in very little water for eight to ten minutes, drain them and then press them through a sieve. Add a teaspoon of agave syrup or honey to sweeten if you like it sweeter.

Medicinal uses

Hawthorns are used in folk medicine. Pastor Sebastian Kneipp, well-known in Germany for his nature cures, recommended hawthorn tea¸ made from the dried flowers and leaves, for heart and circulatory problems including hypertension and dizziness. Hawthorn berries are rich in vitamin C, provitamin A and pectin.

Watch the thorns!

The berries ripen between August and October. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when you’re picking hawthorn berries, because the twigs and branches grow close together with a lot of very sharp thorns. In addition, the crushed berries can leave unsightly spots on your clothes. Wash the berries well before using them. Take care to leave some berries on the tree, because they’re important food for over 30 bird species. If you plant a hawthorn in your garden, you’ll be benefiting many insect species and small mammals.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de