I grew with these little beauties with several family members always having some spare Mayhaw jelly around almost all the time. Recently a member of my mother's church gave her some juice just a few weeks back to make some good old fashioned homemade jelly! I've had the commercially produced stuff, and while it will do in a pinch, especially if you live out the growing range of this fruit, it's just not as good as the stuff you take the time to make yourself! Mind you, if you can get fresh local stuff produced in a small way, it's very good. So what is a "Mayhaw?"
|Mayhaw tree showing how small they are when mature enough to bear fruit.|
|Map showing the native wild range of the Eastern May Hawthorn|
What is interesting to me is that this wonderful fruit gets almost entirely left out of Native American cookbook, but it was an important food source for southeastern natives numerous groups as diverse as the Houma to Chitimacha, Choctaw to Caddo. The first a very high in vitamin C, especially when raw, and can easily be stewed and most of C is retained even after heating. A sweet mixture can easily be made from them and is similar to Rose Hip Puree, which is used as a sauce for meat or fish. The dried berries can go into meat stews and such. The juice as mentioned above can be made into a delicious jelly, and this is the way that most people, native and non-natives, use them today; but the juice, when thinned out with water makes an excellent "Ade"--as in like lemonade beverage. For rose hip puree, see here. For me, throwing away the flesh after juicing just seems a waste, so why not make a puree out it (it can be frozen).
Mayhaw festivals abound all over the southeast from Texas to Georgia. Colquitt, GA has one of the largest; I've never been, but I've heard that it's quite the "get up." Louisiana has a Mayhaw Society to promote the pretty, but humble little fruit, their website can be assessed here (Louisiana Mayhaw Association). Here the link to Marion, Alabama's Mayhaw Festival page, which (and I really like this) they throw every Mother's Day...now that's how I'd love to spend mine!! Website includes some nice recipes, and since they are related to apple, any recipe for mayhaw almost equally applies to apples as a substitute. Here a link a TyTy nursery that sell four distinct varieties of Mayhaw, with, I believe, the Swamp Mayhaw being as close to the wild species as a nursery has to offer
|I've had Cedar Head Farms Mayhaw Jelly and it's very good. Good on Bagels with Cream Cheese! Now, that's not very southern of me, is it?|