Mayhaw berries hold a special place in Southern peoples’ hearts. These berry bushes can grow in the wild or be cultivated in farms, and many people have either foraged for mayhaw or harvested their berries during their season. Just looking at Mayhaw jellies or getting a whiff of their pleasant scents would be enough to reminisce wonderful childhood memories when life was simpler and problems would be eradicated by a simple toast lathered with sweet mayhaw jellies.
Mayhaw Jelly Trivia
- Mayhaws are one of some of the lesser-known fruits in the South, but Mayhaw trees are indigenous in the Southern United States and can grow in the wild reaching as far as Texas.
- Mayhaw jellies are regarded as one of the tastiest and finest jellies in the world. Their color can range from light pink to reddish-brown. They are renowned for their wild and fruity flavors. You can almost recall the harvesting or foraging process upon partaking in the aromas and flavors of these jellies.
Mayhaw Jelly Buying Guide
Mayhaw jellies are produced by both commercial and artisan producers. When buying mayhaw jellies, look at the ingredients and avoid those jellies with heavy doses of artificial sugars, chemicals, and toxic preservatives.
It’s best to buy mayhaw jellies during the mayhaw season from late April to early May because early Spring is the best season for harvesting some mayhaw fruits in East Texas.
Mayhaw Jelly Production & Farming in Texas
Mayhaw jellies are a must during mayhaw season, every family has their recipes and the making of mayhaw jellies becomes a personal affair. Mayhaw trees are related to apples and pears. Mayhaw fruits sometimes look like crabapples and can be made into jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit conserves.
Mayhaws in Texas are common in the 1000-hour chill line. They thrive in the wet floodplain soils along creeks and rivers, usually settling under the tall, hardwood timbers. Some of the Mayhaw varieties include Super Spur, Super Berry, Big Red, Winnie Yellow, Highway Red, Highway Yellow, T.O., Angelina, Harrison, Big Mama, and Warren Superberry, among others.
Preservatives and Chemicals
It has been said that the artisan crafts of making jellies, jams, and preserves are now a dying art as people resort to commercially produced products that have very different tastes and textures from the handcrafted ones.
Sugar is the most obvious preservative added in mayhaw jellies. However, there are different types of sugars in preserved fruit products. For instance, preserving sugars with high pectin are added to jams, preserves, and marmalades. On the other hand, jelling sugar or jam sugar already contains other chemical additives such as pectin which acts as a gelling agent and citric acid as a preservative.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is one of the most toxic sugar additives in jellies. Consuming foods with high fructose corn syrup adds an unhealthy amount of fructose to the body which leads to more health problems such as obesity, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Most commercially produced mayhaw jellies contain artificial flavoring and coloring to enhance the looks and taste of the final product.
Jams, jellies, preserves, and marmalades require highly sanitized and extensive procedures to preserve the shelf-life of the food products and maintain food safety.
Mayhaw jellies but both contain pectin, sugars, and fruits. In this case, the canning method or the boiling water bath works as the most reliable food packaging method.
Check the jars for any cracks, chipped areas, and even mold. Once you find these irregularities, immediately discard the jars instead of repairing or saving them. Remember that the consumers’ food safety is the top priority.
Boil the jars in hot water and let them cool for a while. Ladle the mayhaw jellies leaving 1-inch headspace otherwise, the jar will crack or explode. Place the magnetic lids and metal rings tightly, ensuring that no air enters the mixture and close tightly. Return the jar with the jam mixture into the boiling water for 5 more minutes.
Let the jars cool down for 24 hours and store in a cool place, away from the sun for up to a year.
Enjoying Mayhaw Jellies
Mayhaw jelly can be eaten with sweet and savory dishes. As a dessert, they can be spread in pancakes, waffles, toasted bread, and biscuits. They can also be used as filling for cupcakes, donuts, muffins, and other desserts. For savory dishes, mayhaw jellies can be used as an additional ingredient for meat sauces. It would definitely be a great addition for a Texas barbecue.
Home-made jellies must be stored in the refrigerator and can be stored for at least a month. Avoid frequently opening and storing the canned jellies at room temperature as it can shorten their shelf-life. Check the lid of the jellies for any contaminants such as molds and yeasts.
If the jelly smells of yeast and begins to form a watery texture, get rid of it as it’s already spoiled.
4 cups mayhaw juice
1 box pectin
5 cups sugar
- TO PREPARE JUICE: Sort and wash fully ripe Mayhaw berries (about one gallon). Crush fruit and add some water (about one cup, cover and bring to a boil on high.) Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool. Extract juice by straining through a juicer wrapped with cheese cloth. Set aside.
- TO MAKE JELLY: Measure 4 cups of juice in a large, heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil, add pectin and stir well. Bring back to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add sugar and continue stirring. Heat again to a full rolling boil, boil hard for one minute.
- Remove from heat; skim off foam quickly. Pour jelly immediately into hot, sterile canning 1/2 pint jars to 1/4 th inch from top. Seal with hot lids and process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes 6 (1/2 pint) jars.