Herbs as Food: Hawthorn Berry Syrup for the Heart




Hawthorn (Crateagus monogyna)

by Amy LeMay

The big black bumblebees have been busy and most of the hawthorn flowers have been pollinated.  This means they will soon start to set berries.  Keep watching for the hawthorn trees to be full of these incredibly healthy and yummy, tart red fruits.

There are two species of Hawthorn here on Bastyr University campus.  (Crataegus monogyna) has one seed in the center of the fruit and (Crataegus douglasii) which has multiple seeds in the fruit.  This thorny shrub is native to northern and western North America, where it grows in varied habitats from forest to scrubland. It is most abundant in the Pacific Northwest.  Monogyna is the European species that has been naturalized in the US.  Both of these species are interchangeable as they have the same medicinal properties.

Hawthorne has long been considered one of the best heart tonics, full of proanthocyanthidins and flavonoids.  It is highly anti-oxidant, promotes a healthy circulatory system and strengthens the heart.   In studies, it has been shown to improve heart function and even lower LDL in high cholesterol patients.  For anyone on prescription heart medications, it would be a good idea to check with your Naturopath before taking it regularly.  It can be a tasty treat even for those who aren’t into herbs for health.

This is a very simple recipe and will keep for a good long time.

1. Combine 1ounce of fresh hawthorn berries and 1 ounce of fresh blueberries in a saucepan with 2 cups of water.  Mark your water line, then bring it to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to a bubbling simmer and reduce the liquid to half.

3. Strain through a tight mesh strainer or cheesecloth to get every bit of liquid out that you can.

4. You should end up with roughly 1 cup of hawthorn, blueberry decoction.

5. Add honey, sugar, xylitol or maple syrup or any other kind of sugar as your sweetener and preservative.

6. For a syrup that doesn’t need refrigeration – use 2 times as much sweetener as decoction.

For a less sweet syrup that needs refrigeration but will last a long time – use a 1:1 ratio

For a much less sweet syrup that will need to be used within a month and refrigerated – ½ part sweetener to 1-part decoction.

This syrup can be poured over ice cream, added to hot or cold tea, or a smoothie or taken by the tablespoon.  There are any number of other creative ways to take this syrup.  Consider a fresh squeezed lemonade with a tablespoon of this syrup.  Yum!  Happy harvesting and Green Blessings.