Rowan berries appear in late summer and early fall. They are delicious and slightly bitter when cooked and have been made into jellies and marmalades for centuries. Found in British cooking to accompany game dishes like roast lamb or venison, rowan berries are also made into liquors and wines.
These stunning red berries are packed with vitamins A and C and are usually gathered in the wild, with very few farms growing them for mass consumption. Although the fresh berries are poisonous because of their parasorbic acid content, cooked berries are safe because when heated this component becomes benign sorbic acid.
Enjoy the undeniably good flavor of our jelly with a cheese plate (Wensleydale cheese is especially recommended) or spread it on your morning toast for a tangy, bittersweet mouthful of fruity flavor. The jelly will keep unopened for a year, but once opened, it keeps in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
- 4 pounds rowan berries (washed and stems removed)
- 3 pounds apples (peeled, cored, and quartered)
- 1 pound white sugar (for every 2 cups juice)
- water (filtered)
Gather the ingredients.
Put rowan berries and apples into a non-reactive large pan or stockpot (there should be room for the berries to reach a good rolling boil and not be crammed in).
Barely cover the fruit with cold water. Using medium-heat, bring the fruit to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the fruit is soft.
Let the mixture cool off for 5 minutes and place, with a bowl underneath, in a jelly strainer bag overnight, at least 12 hours. It's very important not to squeeze the jelly bag to extract more juice as this will make the finished jelly cloudy. Although it will still be delicious, it won't look as pretty.
Measure the juice you've collected and weigh-out the correct amount of sugar as directed above. Add the juice and sugar to a clean non-reactive large pan or stockpot and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat and cook at a full rolling boil for 5 minutes, then test for a set following a setting-point test.
When the jelly has reached the setting point, pour into hot, sterilized jars, seal and label.
Enjoy with game meats, cheeses, or toast!
Are You Picking Rowan Berries?
The Mountain Ash trees rowan berries grow on are found throughout the countryside but they adorn city and urban areas as well. These berries arrive in late summer and fall. Keep in mind the following pointers when foraging for this delicious fruit:
- The berries come in very large clusters.
- Each berry is smaller than a blueberry.
- The leaves come in a teardrop shape of 10 to 14 leaves. They are dark green on the front and lighter green on the back. Each leaf has small "teeth" on the edges.
- The tree has dark bark and textured rings on it.
- Always harvest your berries away from highly trafficked areas as gas emissions can pollute the fruits.