…..Blue Jays and Mountain Ash, completed

October 27, 2015

“. . . The Harry Potter series borrowed ancient Celtic views towards the European Mountain Ash also called the Rowan Tree. The Celts and other people of early British Isles thought the tree had magical properties. Its powers were to protect you from witchcraft, one of two reasons why it is also called Witchwood. The other reason is a pucker at the end of the fruit reminds some of a pentagram which is associated with witchery.”

“As one might think, animals also know the mountain ashes as food. It is a favored browse of moose and white-tailed deer. Bears, fishers and martens like it as well as snowshoe hares, squirrels, small woodland rodents, the ruffed grouse, ptarmigans, sharp-tailed grouse, blue grouse, American robins, thrushes, waxwings, and jays. . . ”  http://www.eattheweeds.com/mountain-ash-rowan/

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“American Blue Jays and Mountain Ash”, watercolour on Arches Hot Press 140# Paper, original available for purchase $85US (unframed, excluding postal charges), 5.5″ x 11.5″

From Canadian Author Sarah B. Hood [http://www.sarahbhood.com/]

“. . . A couple of years ago I made the wonderful discovery that the common ornamental tree I know as Mountain Ash is the fabled rowan tree, revered in the mythology of northern lands for its protective and divinatory properties. I was told about it by the mother of a friend who also informed me that rowan jelly is the traditional accompaniment to twelfth-cake in the Christmas season.

I have since looked at many different recipes for rowan berry jelly, and note that most of them advise one not to make jelly until the berries have been frozen (either on the tree or in the freezer), since this makes them sweeter. Apparently raw mountain ash berries can be toxic (I remember my father complaining that they were so acidic that they could eat holes in cars), but heat and freezing both change the chemical structure of the acids they contain.

Here’s a recipe that I’ve used. It came to a lovely set and a great colour, like rosé wine. The taste is something like a cross between grapefruit peels and cranberries: bitter, but tasty.”

Rowan Berry Jelly Recipe
Makes about 3 cups

  • About 4 cups of berries which have been frozen (unfrozen berries are very bitter)
  • About 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • About 1½ cups of natural pectin from apples (You can substitute commercial pectin, but you’ll have to change the quantity of sugar according to their instruction for a similar recipe such as grape jelly.)
  • About 3 cups of sugar
Day One
  1. Rinse berries and remove stray leaves, stems and shriveled berries
  2. Barely cover them with water and heat them to the boiling point, then cover and simmer until they have completely dissolved. You can use a potato masher to reduce them to a pea soup-like mush, as pictured below.
  3. Strain through a jelly bag. Hang the bag overnight to catch all the liquid, but do not squeeze the bag.

Day Two
  1. Use a turkey baster or pour carefully to extract the rowan berry juice without any sediment that may have collected. It should come to about 1½ cups (top up with extra apple juice if necessary).
  2. In a wide, deep non-reactive pot, combine rowan berry juice, apple pectin, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a rolling boil. It may be rather scummy, so skim if you like.
  3. When it reaches the setting point, ladle into jars and process for ten minutes.
  4. Label and date the jars, and refrigerate any jars that don’t seal.
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13 Responses to “…..Blue Jays and Mountain Ash, completed”

  1. …I’ll bet that’s quite the drama Carl–I’d love to see that, too! Thank you for stopping by….

    Like

  2. Love to watch the jays dive bomb the mean ol’ predatory cat with relentless ferocity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did a little digging and found that the European mountain ash is Sorbus aucuparia. I also learned that on this continent we have Sorbus americana,

    http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SOAM3

    which grows in some counties in upstate New York, so you might have seen it on a trip if you ventured an hour or two out of Rochester when you lived there.

    Like

  4. I did a little digging and found that the European mountain ash is Sorbus aucuparia. I also learned that on this continent we have Sorbus americana,

    http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SOAM3

    which grows in some counties in upstate New York, so you might have seen it on a trip if you ventured an hour or two out of Rochester when you lived there as a child.

    Like

  5. …how kind you are Johanna. And how much I enjoy Mrs. Walker’s Illustrations! I hope those reading this will pay Mrs. Walker a visit (smile).

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  6. Blue Jays are one of my favorite birds and you have captured their personality so well…it is magical! And thnak you for the recipe! cheers form Ohio, Johanna

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How very nice of you, Teresa to stop by and offer your kindness. I enjoy your portrait drawings on your site. I must say, the course you are taking sounds altogether too intimidating for my comfort! wow. Calculus yet.

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  8. Such a stunning piece of art! It has an Asian watercolor quality to it that I love. I’d not heard of Rowan berry, nor the jelly, nor Twelfth Cake before, so thanks for teaching me something new!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. …Cynthia, you are so right that what the viewer is witnessing is a rowanberry food fight, (big smile). I am now going to look up Epiphany cake, for my own edification–our German tradition didn’t include such fare. And, after reading this recipe–and even though I just put up 24 jars of jam–I think I’ll defer to trying to buy an expensive English gourmet shop’s version. I was ok until I got to the part of syphoning using a turkey baster. That was the straw…..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. …..oh Sharon, thank you so much. You are always confirming and generous to fellow posters!

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  11. I love the looks of those two jays on the one branch….you capture so well the attitude of these wonderful birds! Are they insulting each other? Is it some kind of one-up conversation they’re having, or just malicious gossip?…..only the third jay, the listener, knows, and she’s not giving it away.

    How nice to learn so much about the mountain ash, and rowanberry jelly (I can’t decide if it would be harder to make it, or to buy it from some gourmet shop in England!). The “twelfth cake” sounds just like our Epiphany Cake, with a bean buried for some lucky person to find.

    The painting is a lovely, delicate thing, Lance. And this post is a real treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lance, your painting is magical, the red berries subtely pull me into the painting.
    Thank you for the additional background narrative on the Mountain Ash, fascinating and a recipe too!

    Liked by 1 person

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