Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.
I imagine that my Celtic ancestors would have been able to tell us as much about hawthorns as they could hazelnuts. The tree is a European native and has been known to live as long as four hundred years. In a time before the kings when the clans elected chieftains and elders the hawthorn would have been a family heirloom. It’s a member of order of Rosales and like roses is known for the foreboding thorns that gaurd it’s boughs. Some types of hawthorn have branching thorns that look like a miniature version of honey locus thorns and others bare branches that look as if they grow bayonets. I’ve not decided wich specific brand of hawthorn in in tonight’s Feature Image but I’m leaning towards cockspur hawthorn which is nativetoNorthAmerica. For Forage Friday purposes it really doesn’t matter much because all hawthorns yield edible berries. However, the seeds can actually be deadly. Like others of the maleae tribe which is the apple tribe the seeds contain a type of cyanide. Now when I eat apples I eat seeds and all and have never suffered any kind of ill effects. But I only eat a few apples. So I only ingest a tiny amount of seeds and there’s a purposes for that and it’s best covered by a certified expert. However just to satisfy curiosity the substance known as amygdalin only occurs in very small amounts in apples. It’s estimated that at minimum one would need to consume 150 crushed apple seeds to be harmful. Some studies have shown that in such low amounts as would be found in the occasional single apple can help to prevent some cancers. (Please seek expert advice before consuming apple seeds or any other herbal remedies for that matter.) So let’s think about it for a minute. Apples are not hawthorns and therefore may contain a much higher dose of amygdalin. When amygdalin reaches the small intestine it’s converted into hydrogen cyanide and thus a deadly poison. If an adult accidentally swallows a seed or two it’s not considered to be a big deal. But if a small child swallows the same amount then it could have dire consequences. I don’t say this to scare people away from hawthorn. It’s a cultural staple of our ancestors. Just don’t eat the seeds.
After careful removal of the seeds the berries can be eaten raw but one of the favorite ways to enjoy it is to make hawthorn jelly. There’s a little timing involved. The hawthorn is rich in pectin and has the most pectin just when it’s first ripe. As the berries age they become more sugary and lose pectin. For those who are interested in self-sufficient living having access to a few hawthorn trees means growing their own pectin. A writer at Eat The Weeds UK has provided an interesting recipe for hawthorn jelly and so rather than steal someone else’s work I am providing a link to their original content .
This same author also has an interesting recipe for something that they call Dragon’s Breath Hawthorne Relish .
Famed SAS survivalist Ray Mears has a no cook method for making not only a hawthorn jelly but a way to dehydrate it in the sun. The example he provided on set was still edible after three years.
In addition to the berries hawthorn provides edible leaves, flower buds and even the young shoots are edible. All of this in combination with the potential for using the thorny tree as a protective trimmed hedge makes hawthorn a great option to have on the homestead.
Typically when I cover the medicinal values of a Forage Friday plant I draw on decades of reading and YouTube videos but tonight’s source is Mount Sinai. According to them hawthorns can help treat an array of cardiac problems including irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, chest pain and even heart failure. The included that even the leaves and flowers are used. This brings up an important point. Even though the hawthorn provides a powerhouse of food values for people who are already on medication for heart problems hawthorn could represent a hazard of over medication. So please consult a physician if you’re in this category.
That’s all I for tonight’s Forage Friday. Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
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