Monday 15 September 2008

Time for Haws (Hawthorn Berries)

Haws are the bright red fruit of the hawthorn tree and they're just coming into season right now. Many people just walk past these bright red berries, thinking them only fit for birds. But the truth is that they can be very tasty and you can make a whole range of foods from them, ranging from pies through jams to sauces. They're also extremely high in vitamin C and well worth collecting. They also freeze well and will keep until needed.

This past weekend I saw that haws were just coming into their own and the first truly ripe ones were not available. I will collect lots over the next few weeks, but the weekend's bounty allowed me to collect some fresh fruit and mix these with fresh wild blackberries and a few late season wild raspberries to make a very delicious winter fruit crumble, detailed below:

Haw, Wild Balckberry and Wild Raspberry Oatmeal Crumble


For the Fruit:
250g ripe haws, washed and drained
30g brown sugar
6 tbsp water

200g wild blackberries, washed and drained
100g wild raspberries, washed and drained
30g brown sugar
4 tbsp water
squeeze of lemon
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

For the Crumble:
60g plain flour
30g coarse oatmeal
60g brown sugar
60g butter

Combine the haws, brown sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer then cover and cook gently for 25 minutes until the haws have burst and are soft. Take off the heat, allow to cool until you can handle then pass through a fine-meshed sieve. Press the pulp down with the back of a spoon to extract as much haw juice as possible.

In a clean pan combine the haw juice, blackberries, wild raspberries, brown sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring this mixture just to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook gently until the mixture has thickened and the fruit are just soft (but still firm), about 8 minutes' cooking time.

Turn the fruit into the base of an oven-proof dish and scatter the cornflour over the top. Meanwhile, mix together the flour and oatmeal then cube the butter and add to this mixture. Rub the butter into the flour and oatmeal mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the brown sugar then, using your hands, sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit. Tamp the oatmeal crumble mix down slightly then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 200°C. Bake for between 25 and 30 minutes, or until the fruit is hot and bubbling and the top of the dish is a nice golden brown in colour.

Serve hot with milk, cream, ice cream or custard.

If you would like more ideas for recipes using haws as a main ingredient, why not visit the Celtnet haw recipes pages. You can also find more information about hawthorn berries and the use of haws as a wild food on the Celtnet Recipes Hawthorn information page with recipes.

For all the wild food recipes on this blog, see the wild food recipes page.

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