Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May I have a little Mayhaw Jelly Please

My parents left South Georgia when they were first married and  lived in Florida until they retired. We always spent Summer vacations on my Grandpa Spooner's farm in Seminole County. One of my earliest memories is getting in his little rowboat with a net and gathering Mayhaw's.
Mayhaw's are are native to the swamps and bogs of Southwest Georgia. Colquitt, in Miller County is the center of the Mayhaw growing area. Mayhaw trees grow wild in a small geographical area. The Mayhaw tree is a cousin of the haw or apple family. In May, as my Grandpa and I did, the red berries are scooped out of the water in fishnets. The trees are very thorny, therefore the berries are shaken loose from the branches. 
Once gathered the berries are boiled and strained through cheesecloth to get the clear beautiful juice.
Mayhaw jelly recipes date from the Civil War and even earlier. It is often considered the "best jelly in the world". 

Mayhaw Jelly

3 cups prepared Mayhaw juice - about 2 lbs fully ripe mayhaws
1 qt water
5 cups sugar
1 pouch fruit pectin

Bring boiling water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water: rinse with warm water- Pour boiling water over flat ids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. 

Place Mayhaws in saucepan; add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Crush fruit mixture in saucepan. Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth in large bowl. Pour prepared berries in cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed. Hang and let drip into bowl until dripping starts. Press gently. Measure 3 cups of juice into sauce pan. 

Stir sugar into juice. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full boil and boil one minute. stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 of top. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2 piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on rack in canner. Water must cover jars by one to two inches. Add boiling water. Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool. After jars cool, check lids by pressing middle of lid with finger. (if lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary )
I haven't been to South Georgia in May in over twenty years and have no homemade Mayhaw Jelly. But, I always find a way to grab a few jars to enjoy through the summer.  It can be purchased on the internet or at one of the local South Georgia grocery stores. The IGA in Colquitt always has a display with homemade Mayhaw Jelly - or just stop at any roadside stand or store that looks like the one pictured!
All of the pictures used with nabbed from the internet and I used a recipe from Dianasdesserts.com as my mothers' had no directions at all - just the proportions scribbled on the back of an envelope. 

I hope that everyone enjoyedd this little history lesson.

1 comment: