The Absolute Best Mayhaw Jelly Recipe EVER

The Absolute Best Mayhaw Jelly Recipe EVER

Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than Mayhaw Jelly

April showers bring Mayhaws (May what?!? You thought I was gonna say Mayflowers didn’t you???) And while we have certainly had plenty of April showers, we hope to have plenty of May flowers, but that’s a post for another day.

This post is all about the jelly! (calorie-counters and carb-haters move along, this post isn’t for you…)

jars of mayhaw jelly
Jars of mayhaw jelly make me jolly

Making homemade Mayhaw jelly with my mom and grandmother are some of my favorite childhood memories. And the fact that that mayhaw jelly also tastes like heaven on earth just increases the warm and fuzzies. And now I’m passing those warm and fuzzies on to you!

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What is a Mayhaw berry?

Now, some of you may be asking yourself “What is a mayhaw?” If you haven’t lived along the northern edges of the Gulf of Mexico or been lucky enough to have homemade mayhaw jelly while visiting the South, then you may not understand this joy in a jar.

But all it takes is one taste. When you know, you know! It really is the best jelly that has ever touched your lips. A little sweet, a little tangy, and a whole lot yum!

bright red mayhaw berry
Ripe mayhaws are a thing of beauty

Mayhaws are tangy, bright red berries produced by the thorny hawthorn tree. It’s a native tree that grows wild in the boggy, swampy areas from east Texas to west Florida and some places as far north as Kentucky. By mid-April to early May the berries turn bright red and simply fall from the tree.

buckets of mayhaw berries
Buckets and buckets of mayhaws

Growing Mayhaw Trees

Dubbed the official state fruit tree of Louisiana, mayhaw trees are hardy, grow in zones 6-10, and thrive in low-lying areas as well as well-draining soils. In the spring the trees put on a showy display of white blossoms followed by bright red berries. In the fall the leaves turn brilliant yellow, adding to fall foliage. Because of these qualities, many chose to incorporate these trees into their landscaping.

Most nurseries here in the Deep South carry mayhaw trees but if you can’t find them at your local nursery you can always order them online. Try the Mayhaw Man here in Louisiana or try Willis’s if you are closer to the east coast.

Preparing the Mayhaw Berries

After picking the fruit, be sure to wash and freeze the berries or juice them and freeze immediately. It only takes a couple of days for the fruit to start growing mold.

After washing and removing the leaves, stems, and bruised fruit, move berries to a large stock pot cover the berries with water. A rough estimate is about 12 cups of water for every gallon of berries.

washing mayhaw berries
Rinsing mayhaws before juicing them

Bring berries and water to a boil. Next, turn heat down, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Once the berries are soft and bursting then strain (keep the liquid).

Squeeze the berries for all they are worth to get what you can out of them. You can use a strainer and spoon to squish them or squeeze in cheese cloth. Strain the juice again to remove any solids and you are ready to go!

If you need to, cook the liquid down some more to concentrate the juice.

What You Need to Make Mayhaw Jelly

There’s just a few things you need to whip up some of the best jelly ever…

  • 8 cups of strained/filtered mayhaw juice –  (This will yield about 8 pints. If you want a more firm jelly, reduce the juice by 1/4 cup, more syrupy add a 1/4 cup)
  • 11 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of butter (to help reduce foaming)
  • Three 1.75oz packages of Sure-Jell pectin
  • 8-10 clean 16oz (1 pint) canning jars. (These come with the lids and rings)
  • Lids and rings to fit jars if using jars you already have at home.
  • Canning funnel
  • Small sauce pan with hot water for lids

Pro Tip: In a large roasting pan add about an inch of hot water and set clean jars into water. This tempers the jars to keep them from cracking from shock when the hot liquid touches the glass. Place by pot where jelly is being prepared.

roasting pan full of jelly jars
Note: My stove top has a built-in griddle where my roasting pan fit perfectly. I turned griddle on the lowest setting (150 degrees), and this kept my jars warm.
  • In a small sauce pan add a couple inches of water and turn on low. Add jar lids and keep them in warm water until ready to place on jars. This will help insure you get a solid, airtight seal.
  • Bring juice, Sure-Jell, and butter to a roiling boil in a large stock pot.
  • Once roiling boil has been reached, add sugar and bring back to a roiling boil, constantly stirring.
  • Let it boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Immediately skim any foam and ladle into clean jars that are in the heat bath. A canning funnel makes this much easier.
  • Wipe the rims of the jars with a wet cloth to remove any residue so that the lid will form an airtight seal. Take lid from hot water, wipe dry with clean, dry cloth and place lid on jar and tighten down with a ring.
  • Let sit for 12-24 hours to allow firming. You should be hearing some of the lids pop, meaning a seal has been achieved
jars of mayhaw jelly
Ta-daaaaaa! Mayhaw jelly

And it’s as easy as that! I would LOVE to see what you’ve cooked up so leave a comment below or better yet a photo!

jars of mayhaw jelly
Jars of mayhaw jelly make me jolly

The BEST Mayhaw Jelly Recipe EVER

Serving Size:
About 8 pints
Time:
1 hour
Difficulty:
Easy

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan add a couple inches of water and turn on low. Add jar lids and keep them in warm water until ready to place on jars. This will help insure you get a solid, airtight sealBring juice, Sure-Jell, and butter to a roiling boil in a large stock pot.
  2. Once roiling boil has been reached, add sugar and bring back to a roiling boil, constantly stirring.
  3. Let it boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Immediately skim any foam then ladle jelly into clean jars that are in the heat bath. A canning funnel makes this much easier.
  4. Wipe the rims of the jars with a wet cloth to remove any residue so that the lid will form an airtight seal. Place lid on jar and tighten down with a ring.
  5. Let sit for 12-24 hours to allow firming. You should be hearing some of the lids pop, meaning a seal has been achieved.

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9 thoughts on “The Absolute Best Mayhaw Jelly Recipe EVER

  1. I love mayhaw jelly! My friend came yesterday and made 12 pints !! Most importantly the aroma from the cooking berries is so amazing! She also mixed mulberries with mayhaw ! To make jelly! Never heard of this! I enjoyed your blog and look forward for other posts!

    1. Mulberry and mayhaw! I’ve never tried it but it sounds delicious! Also sounds like the name of boutique…we may be on to something here! Thank you so much Kay to following along and for sharing!

  2. Hey there how do you prepare the Mayhaws to get the juice? My grandmother always made the jelly and we did the pickin.

    1. After washing and removing the leaves and spoiled fruit, cover the berries with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes then strain (keep the juice). Squeeze the berries for all they are worth to get what you can out of them. You can use a strainer and spoon to squish them or squeeze in cheese cloth. Strain the juice and you are ready to go!

  3. Due to the freeze our mayhaw tree didnt produce very many berries. Maybe 2 cups is all. Can i mix mayhaws with another fruit and make jelly. Like apple juice or grape juice? ???

    1. Absolutely! Since mayhaws are naturally tart and this recipe calls for quite a bit of sugar I would go with similarly low sugar/tart juice like cranberry juice. You’ll still get that beautiful red color and the uniquely sweet and tart taste that we all love!

  4. I just made this recipe. Looking forward to trying the jelly! My mom loves it and I make it for her!

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