Mayhaw Uses: Learn How To Use Mayhaw Fruit

By: Amy Grant

If you are from or have family that hails from the Southern United States, it’s very likely you are familiar with cooking with mayhaw from mayhaw recipes that have been handed down for generations. Aside from the tree’s attractiveness to wildlife, mayhaw uses are primarily culinary, although the tree is quite ornamental when in bloom. If you can get your hands on some of this native fruit, read on to find out what to do with mayhaws.

How to Use Mayhaw Fruit

The mayhaw is a type of hawthorn that blossoms with clusters of showy white blooms in the spring on the upright 25- to 30-foot (8-9 m.) high tree. The blossoms yield fruit in May, hence the name. Mayhaws are small, round fruit that, depending upon the variety, may be red, yellow or orange in color. The shiny skin surrounds a white pulp that contains a few tiny seeds.

The tree is a member of the family Roasaceae and is indigenous to low, wet areas from North Carolina to Florida and west to Arkansas and into Texas. During Antebellum times (1600-1775), mayhaws were a popular foraging fruit despite their less than hospitable locations in swamps and other boggy areas.

Since then, the fruit has waned in popularity in part due to the location of trees and land clearing for timber or agriculture. Some effort has been made to cultivate the trees and U-pick farms are reaping the benefits of the fruits resurging popularity.

What to Do with Mayhaws

Mayhaw fruit is extremely acidic, almost bitter in taste, and, as such, mayhaw uses are primarily for cooked products, not raw. The sourest part of the fruit is the skin so, when cooking with mayhaw, the berries are often juiced with the skin discarded and then used to make jellies, jams, syrups or just mayhaw juice.

Traditionally, mayhaw jelly was used as a condiment for game meats, but it can also be used in fruit pies and pastries. Mayhaw syrup is delicious over pancakes, of course, but it also lends itself well over biscuits, muffins, and porridge. Among many old Southern family mayhaw recipes, may even be one for mayhaw wine!

Mayhaw fruit can be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week of its harvest.

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Iced tea with fresh mayhaw juice

If you’ve read theexileskitchen the last few years, you probably know that I am a fan of Mayhaws. I was thrilled to find the remains of an archord on the small piece of property I bought back in 2016 and really excited that it contained two Mayhaw trees. Each Spring when they begin budding and then setting fruit, I get super jazzed about the upcoming jelly making days. Mayhaw jelly is such a pretty pink, with a flavor of strawberry/apple.

Doing some research today, for other Mayhaw recipes, didn’t net much success. I did, however, find the nutritional information on this tiny red fruit.

You can Google Mayhaw facts for yourself LSU Agricultural Department has great information on this fruit tree found in our native Southern states.

After I have a years worth of jelly in the pantry, I will put up jars of juice for teas and Lemon/Mayhawade. For my supper beverage this evening, I mixed into my sweetened iced tea 2 tablespoons of mayhaw juice. It was a refreshing berry-tasting tea.

Sorry this video is sideways. I cant figure out how to edit it. Check local farmer’s markets for Mayhaws this time of year. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to snag this superfood.

Fire Blight

Figure 3. Fire blight symptoms on a hawthorn tree. Photo credit: Don Ferrin, LSU AgCenter,

Symptoms and Signs

Fire blight bacteria often enter the plant through flower blossoms, causing an infection that progresses from the bloom down the branch. Blossom blight, in which blossoms wilt, turn brown, and die, may occur. During periods of wet weather, bacterial ooze may be seen in blossoms. Diseased branch tips and shoots become blackened and appear scorched (Figure 3). The ends of affected branches often bend, giving the appearance of a shepherd’s crook. Cracked or rough areas of bark (cankers) appear on blighted twigs and branches.

Ecology and Spread

Fire blight bacteria overwinter in branch cankers and splash onto blossoms during spring rains. Wet weather favors disease spread, and severity of disease outbreaks will vary from year to year depending on environmental factors. Insects visiting infected flowers become coated in bacterial ooze, which is abundant during the bloom periods, and can transfer that bacteria to healthy blossoms. Flies and pollinating insects, such as bees, spread fire blight bacteria very efficiently.


Managing fire blight is difficult because plants are susceptible to infection for many weeks during which fire blight bacteria are usually produced in large quantities. Also, there are few effective chemical control options. Reducing the amount of bacteria available to cause new infections in the spring is a very important part of managing fire blight. The management suggestions below will help with fire blight prevention and suppression.

  1. Cultivars vary in their resistance to fire blight. Planting a cultivar with a high level of resistance will reduce disease incidence. A list of commercially available cultivars and their level of resistance to fire blight is provided in Table 3.
  2. Prune out blighted branches during winter dormancy. Pruning should be done in dry weather. Make pruning cuts at least 4 inches below any dead bark, and disinfect pruners with 70 percent alcohol, hydrogen dioxide (ZeroTol 2.0), or quaternary ammonium salts (Fertilome Consan 20).
  3. Avoid cultural practices, such as excessive nitrogen fertilization or excessive winter pruning, that promote succulent spring growth, which is very susceptible to fire blight.
  4. See Table 2 for a list of chemical control options. During bloom, apply potassium phosphite and the antibiotic kasugamycin with a surfactant, like Tactic. Potassium phosphite and the antibiotic can be used individually, as well, but using them in combination may result in better control. Bacillus subtilis QST 713 (Serenade Max) and Streptomyces lydicus WYEC 108 (Actinovate AG) are OMRI listed for organic control and labeled for use on mayhaw. As of October 2014, antibiotics are no longer on the USDA national list of substances allowed for organic production.

Watch the video: Medicinal uses of the eastern mayhaw

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