16 August 2017
Hawthorn Recipes & Remedies - Part 1
EagleSong Evans Gardner, community herbalist, taught Hawthorn Remedies and Recipes at the 2016 Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. Here is some of her wisdom about the plant and it's uses.
Hawthorn, Crataegus spp. is the epitome of a common plant, proliferating around planet Earth in the temperate northern latitudes. A member of the congenial Rosaceae family, this small to medium tree takes her place in rough environments with grace and even charm. Growing 16’-50’ with small pome fruits, haws, and often sharp, thorny branches, Crataegus are used as specimen trees in gardens, as a foundation tree in countryside hedges and as a gnarly free agent in neglected landscapes providing shelter and food for innumerable insects, birds, amphibians, small mammals and, occasionally, humans! Just for fun, check out www.theplantlist.org where you’ll find 2718 plant names for Crataegus sp. found around the world!
The name hawthorn is an old English term for hedgethorn. Crataegus oxycantha or monogyna predominate as a shrubby tree used in European hedges along with its counter part the black thorn, sloe or trnka plum! An exceptionally vigorous and adaptive tree, Crataegus occasionally resort to apomixis, a form of asexual reproduction not requiring cross fertilization to create entirely new species. Two other commonly used herbs with this capacity are Taraxacum and Alchemilla, our friends and allies, dandelion and Lady's mantle. Somehow, this just tickles my fancy!
Generally recognized as a food with special properties wherever it grows, hawthorn preparations include haw candies, juice, wine, herbal medicines, and is used fresh and dried in soups, teas, punches, jams, butters, chutneys and relishes. Although, not universally accepted as beneficial, at least one county in WA state has listed the Hawthorn as an invasive species...since this is the county where I harvest all the haw used in my practice and heart health is a major concern in our communities, the mark is being missed in engaging an ally by some!
Considered a “heart food” and heart remedy of excellent proportion by many herbalists in several traditions and one of the herbs which, personally, brings me great joy in tending, I set myself to the task of finding as many ways as possible of bringing this herb into the daily diet.
Remember to wrap your senses around this gnarly little tree as you get to know each other. Can you taste the sweet and sour in the haws? The hint of bitter? What do the leaves and flowers taste like? How do they make your mouth feel? How does the tree smell in full bloom? Who visits those blossoms along with you? How do you feel when you lay down under her spreading branches and watch the clouds float by? Savor hawthorn’s medicine in all of her expressions...perhaps, a deeper understanding lives in the complexity yet to be found...
Please use these recipes and remedies as a jumping off point for nourishing health in your life.
Over the last few decades, the expansive proliferation of wonderful, delicious herbal preparations flooding into the folk tradition of people’s medicine is mindblowing! Bravo!
Hawthorn Healing Infusion
- 1 oz by weight dried Hawthorn flowers and leaves
- 1 qt boiling water
- Pour boiling water over hawthorn, let step 48 hours, strain, squeeze and drink. Warm or iced a refreshing, simply nourishing, tonifying beverage.
Hawthorn Healing Decoction
- 4 oz dried haw
- 1 qt water
- Place hawthorn in water, bring to a slow boil and simmer for 23 hours adding water as necessary to maintain 1 qt. Taste the decoction at 1 hour, 2 hours, three hours; how does it change?
Riffing on Hawthorn decoction inspired by Mexican Ponche
Ponche is a delicious fruity, spicy drink enjoyed hot during the festive winter season in Mexico. Large kettles are prepared as it is often shared at fiestas! A central element in Ponche is Tejocote, Crataegus mexicana, the Mexican Hawthorn. In sub tropical climates pineapple, guava, apples, nuts and oranges are included. To adapt the recipe for the northern region where I live, I use apples, pears, prunes, apricots and nuts and the drink resembles the dried fruit winter drinks of Europe! This recipe is enough for a party/fiesta/feast.
- 12 gallons water
- 8 oz Dried haws
- A handful of each dried fruit, apples, pears, prunes, apricots, rose hips
- A handful of whatever nut you have on hand, walnut, almond or hazel nut all work well
- 1 4” cinnamon stick
- Sweetener of choice to taste (I use piloncillo, dried Mexican sugar cane juice in little pyramid shapes).
Garnish with fresh sliced apples and oranges just before serving
- Put hawthorn in large kettle with water and cinnamon and bring to boil, turn down and simmer 23 hours, strain out haws and cinnamon, return liquid to kettle Add dried fruit, nuts and sweetener, simmer until fruit is soft. Add sliced fresh fruit, stir and serve...sometimes we add homemade brandied cherries just before serving! Ladle into cups, serve with spoons. Enjoy!
Play with this one. We have a less sweet version simmering on the back of the wood stove during the winter as a daily tonic brew. (Slow cookers work great here) Other local herbs are often included for tonification. I use Labrador tea, Devil’s club root or ganoderma. You might have astragalus or American ginseng in your area to increase the tonifing qualities.