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Indian Hawthorn Berries
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Indian Hawthorn berries grow on hedge-like bushes that have leathery, glossy green leaves. The plant produces pink-hued, star-shaped flowers that are virtually unscented but a favorite source of nectar for bees and other insects. The ink colored berries that follow are small and round, averaging a mere one or two centimeters in diameter. Indian Hawthorne berries are very firm and contain a single seed. Their flavor is incredibly tart and astringent and considered by most to be inedible when raw.
Indian Hawthorn berries are available from winter into early spring.
Indian Hawthorn berries, botanical name Rhaphiolepis indica, are the fruit of an evergreen shrub in the Rosaceae family. There are hundreds of varieties of Indian Hawthorn plants including, Oriental Pearl, Oriental Pink and Cosmic White. Some are edible and others are merely unpalatable or even poisonous. It is critical to research each plant, referencing field guides to distinguish which varieties are edible.
Indian Hawthorn berries have been used to treat heart disease as far back as the 1st century. They contain high levels of antioxidant flavonoids, which help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and protect the blood vessels from damage. Traditionally, the berries have been used to treat heart problems ranging from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and chest pain.
Indian Hawthorn berries' greatest culinary asset is that they contain concentrated levels of pectin. Their primary use is as a fruit additive to jams based on other fruits. Not only can the fruit be made into jams and jellies, but also into chutney and savory sauces for wild game. Complimentary ingredients include baking spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla, other berries such as strawberries and huckleberries, apples, pears and persimmons, woodsy herbs, shallots, red wine and rich fatty meats.
The genus name for Indian Hawthorne berry is derived from the Greek words for needle and scale, in reference to the flower clusters' bracts. The species, indica, refers to its country of origin, India.
Indian Hawthorn berries are native to warm temperate and subtropical Asia, specifically areas of southern China and Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and southern Korea. The plants thrive in both inland and coastal regions, and are extremely salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant. Though the evergreen shrubs grow wild, they are quite commonly cultivated for ornamental use in gardens and landscapes.
Recipes that include Indian Hawthorn Berries. One is easiest, three is harder.
|On Disturbed Ground||Hawthorn Chutney|
|On Disturbed Ground||Hawthorn Tapenade|
|Way of the Wild Heart||Hawthorn Berry Syrup|