Rowan is by far the most underrated berry (technically a fruit, really), at least here in Finland. Almost every time you mention rowan, people turn up their noses. Even though these trees grow very well here in the north and many other parts of the world, their branches remain full of berries throughout the autumn and birds are the ones left to enjoy their harvest.
I read in this Finnish article how in 2015 only 762 kilos of rowans were picked for sale compared to the 9,6 million kilos of lingonberry.
Even I hadn’t given a chance to this berry. Until this autumn.
Let’s analyze a second. Why is this berry receiving so little love? Well, as with the aronia berry, the reason lies in the taste; this berry too is very bitter and acidic. Rowan, though, is a real superfood as it has double the amount of C Vitamin than oranges and is loaded with E Vitamin, beta-carotene, potassium and flavonoids. I deem these to be more than valid reasons to try and find a way to use these berries, don’t you think?
There’s a traditional jelly that’s made with rowans here in Finland, but it uses an insane amount of sugar to contrast the bitterness of the berry and I knew that was not the way I wanted to follow. As my approach with aronia worked, I went about this challenge the same way: I paired the berry with apples. Apples are a great way to sweeten and soften a flavour avoiding the use of tons of sugar.
Then I thought about Mocktails and the struggle to find the balance between sweet and sour and I knew I was missing something. The answer: lemon juice. Once I added that, It all started to work and I reached the balance I was searching for.
Before I leave you to the recipe, a few tips you might find useful:
- If you pick the rowans when temperatures haven’t yet dropped below zero Celsius, freeze them in your freezer for one night before making the jam. This will soften the bitterness of the berries.
- If you don’t blend the berries and just strain, the jam will have a brighter color and will be a tad sweeter compared to the blended jam. It really depends upon you, which one you like the best. Certainly the blended option has less waste.
- The strained rowans are perfect for a pie or can be used in smoothies!
- Not all rowans taste exactly the same. I’m told there are slight differences between one tree and another so, once the jam has come to a boil, taste it and decide whether you want to add some more sugar and/or lemon juice
- 800 g rowans
- 800 g apples
- 1 kg sugar more or less, to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Juice of half a lemon
- Keep the rowans in the freezer one night if temperatures hadn’t dropped already below zero at the picking moment.
- Add the rowans, the diced apples, the sugar and the cinnamon to a pan and bring to boil.
- Once the mixture starts to boil, add lemon juice and cook until the apples won’t be dissolved.
- For a clear jam, strain the mixture into glass jars, seal them and let them cool.
- For a cloudy jam, partly blend the jam and strain it into glass jars, seal them and let them cool.
- Store in a dark place at room temperature for a few months.
A shoutout goes to the a-m-a-z-i-n-g linen dress in Terrracotta by Verlinne, which is honestly the best fitting dress I’ve ever owned.
Woolen-Linen scarf by the one and only Bonden.