This seasonal rowan berry jam is traditionally served with toast, cheese, or as a condiment for game dishes.
Autumn hasn’t arrived in our forest yet, and one tree stands out among the other green-leaved trees. Its red berries are challenging to miss.
Mountain ash berries, also known as rowan berries or dogberries, are the fruit of the mountain ash tree.
These beautiful drooping clusters of berries are known in America as American mountain-ash (Sorbus decora) and in Europe as European mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia). While both species have edible berries, the European variety is said to be more palatable.
Nutritious and high in pectin, the rowan berries make an excellent rowanberry jam or jelly without the use of additional pectin. They can also be turned into a sauce or puree to marinate the game meat like rosehip jam or cranberry sauce. One can also turn rowan berries into liqueurs or wines.
Start with foraging rowan berries. Make sure you know how to identify them. Even though they are not many plants that can confuse you, ensure you identify them correctly. You can always use foraging books or courses to help you with this task.
Just to give the rowan jelly a nice spicy kick and additional benefits I decided to add fresh ginger to the mixture.
To adjust the thickness of this rowan jam and add additional nutrients, I replaced traditional pectin with chia seeds. Chia seeds are capable of transforming any liquid into a jelly-like substance. and add other benefits to the jam.
To achieve the ideal consistency, I recommend cooking the fruits a little to release their juices before mixing in the chia seeds.
Chia seeds are often called a superfood. They are rich in protein, fiber, minerals and an excellent source of antioxidants.
Chia seed benefits encompass many advantages, including providing essential nutrients and supporting weight management.
Lemon juice helps jam set, brighten its color and prevents bacteria growth. Its sour taste nicely complements the sweet taste of sugar and bitter taste of rowanberries. I suggest you taste the jam and make the right balance.
As much as I like to reduce the amount of sugar in recipes, in this particular recipe, I couldn’t. The rowan berries’ specific taste doesn’t allow to make it without sugar. However, I decided to use brown sugar for its additional health benefits. Feel free to use other alternatives such as honey or stevia.
See the recipe card for quantities.
If you collected rowan berries before the frost keep them in the freezer overnight before you start the recipe
First step: Pluck off the stems and remove unripe rowan berries.
Second step: Rinse the collected rowan berries thoroughly.
Third step: Place the rowan berries into a large saucepan
Fourth step: Add brown sugar and ginger and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat. Watch out if the berries release enough of their juices. You can add some water at this stage if needed.
Simmer at a low temperature for 15 minutes or until the rowanberries are soft.
For a clear jam, strain the mixture, add chia seeds and lemon juice and stir for about 1 minute.
For a jam with berries, no need to strain the berries just add chia seeds and lemon juice and stir for 1 minutes.
mix it well and add chia seeds and lemon juice. Stir for about 1 minute.
Remove the rowan berry jelly from the heat and allow it to cool down for about 10 minutes before transferring it to the sterilized glass jar
Cover with a lid and place it in the refrigerator overnight for the jam to thicken
- If you decide to keep the rowan berries in the jam you will have less waste.
- Strained jelly on the other hand has brighter color and will be sweeter.
- Rowan berries – you make the same jam using other elderberries or wild berries instead such as Aronia
- Brown sugar – can be replaced with another sweetener as per your choice. Brown sugar is a healthier alternative to white processed sugar but affects the final color of the jam.
- use stevia and pectin combination in case of diabetes or keto diet.
adjust the flavor of this jam by adding
- Spicy – add cinnamon stick or chili pepper flakes while cooking
- Adding additional fruits to the mixture such as apples, apricots or quince. Use it in the ratio 1:1 with rowan berries
Muslin for straining
Keeping the rowan berry jam unopened makes it last for several months. Once you open it, you need to use it within a few weeks and keep it in the fridge.
You can also process the jam by canning it in a water bath – sterilize for 20 minutes at 149 F (90 °C). Processed rowan jelly will last up to 2 years.
The content of vitamin C is significantly reduced by cooking so try not to overcook it. 10-15 minutes should be enough for rowan berries to soften.
This rowan jam is bittersweet and slightly tangy but delicious. While the taste of ripe rowan berries is tart, bitter and adstringent, they develop a far better flavor when cooked and turned into jam. The taste of the jam depends on the taste of rowan berries that differ from tree to tree. Also, freezing can make a difference in taste. If the berries have been frozen several times the taste will differ.
While numerous species of birds eat the rowan berries, they are toxic for people when eaten raw.
However, the rowan berries are edible raw or cooked after their first winter freeze.
This reports explains how toxic parasorbic acid converts to nontoxic sorbic acid after frost. The same result can be achieved with heat.
In addition, the freeze affects their taste. While before frost, rowan berries are astringent and bitter, before frost the frost mellows their flavor and makes them sweeter.
It is sometimes difficult to find any berries after the frost as most of them are eaten by birds. People often collect them before frost and put them in the freezer at home to achieve the same result.
Rowan berry jam benefits
Rowanberries have high nutritional value and many health benefits
They are packed with phytochemicals, such as vitamins (C, E, A), carotenoids, and phenolic acids as well as important minerals.
It was reported that rowanberries contain 3-fold higher ascorbic acid than oranges.In addition, rowanberries contain a sweet-tasting sugar alcohol sorbitol, which slowly metabolizes in the human body. Therefore is suitable as a sweetener for people suffering from diabetes.
How to use rowan jam
- This rowan berry jam stand out when served with a cheese platter
- s especially recommended) or spread it on your morning toast
- Rowan berry jam is packed with vitamins and I love to add 1-2 spoons into plain white yogurt instead of eating commercial sweet yogurts.
- Spread it on morning toast
- It is a good condiment for game dishes like venison. To do so mix rowan jam, soy sauce, olive oil, balsamic cream, chili sauce and garlic and rub it into the meat. Marinate the meat for several hours before baking it in the oven.
- Use it to make rowan berry tea. Place one tablespoon of rowan berry jam and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Let it infuse and drink it as a warm drink