When we acquired this property in 2001, we were told there were some Mayhaw trees back in the woods. Wow! Was that an understatement. We haven’t counted every tree yet but have marked over 175 so far, and a previous owner told us that some of the trees could easily be 50 years old.
Mayhaw trees are a type of Hawthorne and they only grow in a few states here in the south. They grow in natural wet areas, not because they need all that water, but for protection from fire. The amount of water in the “pond” varies from season to season and year to year. Sometimes it’s just muddy and other times we can float a canoe in between the trees. We keep the area cleared of fallen branches and undergrowth, and protect it from goats and sheep with fencing.
Turns out this property has the largest stand of accessible Mayhaw Trees in Jefferson County. With the help of the Ag Department at FAMU, we carefully and naturally manage this wet area without chemicals or mechanical equipment. Berries are harvested each year by hand during our Mayhaw Berry Farm Festival.
Mayhaw Berries are great for making a wonderful jelly known only here in the south. There seem to be several varieties in the stand with berries from light yellow to very deep red. Some trees have very small berries while others are larger than cranberries. These native trees are prolific with berries every spring, especially since we started keeping bees on the property.
The normal harvest time is around May 1 to May 21 which is when we have our annual Mayhaw Berry Farm Festival. Every year we come up with better ways to harvest the berries. One year, we harvested 700 pounds! We have also developed a system for cleaning and drying them before they are packaged and frozen. We pack them in four-pound (1-gallon-bag) packages and will store them frozen for up to 2 years. I’ve been told they can stay frozen longer, but have not tested that theory since they sell out so fast.
We also make Mayhaw Berry Jelly for those that like the flavor but not the work. There are many recipes available on the internet so I won’t bore you with mine, but the ingredients are simple: berries, organic pectin, and organic sugar.
If you do want to learn how to make Mayhaw Berry Jelly for yourself we have two videos that teach you how. Check out our Jelly Making Videos page.
Sometimes I make Mayhaw Berry cake, too. Keep an eye on the blog or sign up for our newsletter to see what’s available here at the Country Store or when the next festival is scheduled.