Mayhaw trees are found throughout the Southeastern United States in swamplands and other lowland areas. These trees produce a small round berry in the spring that is typically about 1/2 inch in diameter. When ripe, the mayhaw berry turns from green to a bright red in May. This berry (actually a pome) has been used to make jelly and syrup in the South for generations and is considered a Southern delicacy by many. Because of logging, farming, and urbanisation activities in recent years, the number of these trees has decreased to the point where they are becoming rare in their natural habitat. However, because of their value in jelly production, these trees are now being grown and thriving in dry, well-drained orchards.
We used to harvest mayhaws by spreading out an old sheet under a tree when I was younger. Then we’d shake the tree, causing the mayhaws to fall onto the sheet. I’ve even collected mayhaws that I found floating in water. The raw berry can be eaten, but it is extremely tart and, due to its small size, is better suited for making jelly.
Ingredients for Making Mayhaw Jelly:
2 quarts of washed and dried mayhaws
- Sure-Jell (Pectin)
- 9 Cups of Sugar
- Canning Jars with Lids and Rings
No other ingredients are required for making Mayhaw Jelly. However, a teaspoon of cinnamon can be added if desired.
Steps to Making Mayhaw Jelly:
- Remove any stems from the mayhaws and wash them.
- In a pot, combine 2 quarts of raw mawhaws.
- Bring 9 cups of water to a boil in a pot.
- After 15 minutes of boiling, reduce the heat to a low setting and allow the sauce to simmer.
- Mash mayhaws in a pot with a large wooden spoon to crush them.
- Allow for a 20-minute simmer in the pot.
- Using cheesecloth, strain the juice.
- Fill a new pot with 7 cups of this juice.
- Pour in 1 package of Sure-Jell (pectin) and 9 cups of sugar.
- Bring the pot to a boil, stirring constantly for one minute.
- Remove the foam from the top.
Allow the jelly in the spoon to warm to room temperature before testing the consistency with a spoon; if it is too runny, add more pectin to the pot and reboil until the desired consistency is reached.
The canning lids and rings must be completely submerged in a pot. Boil the lids and rings for 2 minutes. Make sure the lids and rings are not stacked on top of each other.
Clean the canning jars and warm them in a large pot. The pot’s water level should be 1 inch. Place the jars in the pot and bring the water to a boil for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars from the pot and place them on a pad.
Pour the jelly into the jars while wearing oven gloves, being careful not to get any jelly on the jelly rim. Make sure the jars are underfilled to about 1/2 inch from the top. After inspecting and cleaning the outside of each jar for excess jelly, use jar tongs to place a lid and a ring on each jar and tighten the rings finger tight. Place the filled jars far enough apart so that they do not touch.
Finally, press the middle of the lid to ensure that the cooled jars are properly sealed. If the lid does not spring back, the jar has been properly sealed.
This jelly recipe is simple, but other ingredients can be added to spice up the flavour.
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