Hawthorn, a prized little fruit high in vitamin C

We would like to have a short discussion on Chinese Hawthorn (Lt. Crataegus pinnatifida), also called Mountain Hawthorn 山楂 (pinyin: Shān Zhā). Hawthorn is a very popular edible fruit in China but not consumed much outside China. The Chinese use it in a variety of deserts and sweets and also jam and wine. It is prized for its high vitamin C content (see below). In TCM the dried fruits are considered a digestive aid.

Purchasing hawthorn for medicinal uses, Huangzhou, China

Hawthorn has been used in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) for centuries, often as a digestive aid….

…. and it is a popular sugared sweet snack

The flavour of hawthorn fruit is a bit difficult to describe, especially if you eat it in China where it will likely have been sweetened with a lot of sugar to suit the Chinese palate. Maybe a cross between a ripe crab apple and pear? Hawthorn fruits have more of a pome fruit flavour than a berry flavour, and we think Western taste buds would appreciate this best as a complimentary flavour in a mix with other fruits.

Fruit leather with hawthorn and strawberry

While playing around with new product recipes recently in the Dragons Garden test kitchen we decided to add some hawthorn to some mixed berry recipes. We then had a direct comparison in nutritional values between recipes with and without hawthorn. In the hawthorn-containing recipes the vitamin C levels rocketed. The products tasted great as well as having very exiting nutritional profiles. There must be many marketing opportunities here. We will introduce these new products in more detail at a later date.