Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The much-overlooked rowan berry

We have a mountain ash tree in our yard. I never paid much attention to these trees till we had our own and they are really quite beautiful. They bloom with white flowers in the spring then they get berries that seem to change colors from orange to red. The leaves turn orangey-red in the fall, but when they're gone the bright red berries are still there.

Over the summer a friend was visiting and she mentioned that jelly could be made from these berries. We were amazed. It just goes to show we're losing track of all the edible things out there. We set to work researching this a bit.

For one thing, it turns out mountain ash trees are not ash trees but members of the rose family. They are also known as Rowan trees, thus, rowan berries. Some people have thought the berries were poisonous, but they're not. Just very, very , very tart! Jeremy was brave and tried one this summer. Yech! But, the flavor improves (somewhat) after freezing. The berries also have a lot of vitamin C - more than lemons.

We were going to pick our berries and make jelly this year but then decided we didn't have the time. But then a friend found out about rowan berries and picked a ton of them. He borrowed our juicer and made gallons of rowan berry juice, then gave us some. So we decided to make some jelly.

We saw a lot of recipes and we'll have to keep tweaking ours. We used a 1 to 1 ratio of rowan berry juice and apple juice and we put in a lot more honey than we normally do (3/4 cup instead of 4-8 teaspoons!)

Aren't they beautiful? In the second batch we also added some cloves. I'm afraid the jelly turned out quite tart, almost bitter. We still have a lot of rowan juice so we'll keep experimenting (a higher amount of apple juice and more sugar!) In any case, the jelly is better as an accompaniment to meat dishes - not something you slather on hot biscuits. We'll let you know if we come up with a recipe that's not so lip-puckering tart!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lip-puckering tart! Oh, dear, what's becoming of y'all. Probably you are missing the Martin berry which would balance the taste. Rowan and Martin, Laugh In. The Martin berry may be much more difficult to find.
Oops, logged in wrong, well, this is Doug in Seattle if the censors let me post.