Firethorn – Pyracantha coccinea

‘Pyracantha fire-thorn, in yellow, orange, red,
are quite a treat along a street, it really must be said.
and of the views on avenues, while prunus- malus glow,
it really does illuminate, the wealth of autumn’s show…’
-Sid de Knees

 

Every fall neighborhoods come ablaze with Firethorn. The minitaure apple-like berries are usually red, to red-orange. But they can sometimes have a nice yellow berry. The berries last on the bushes for months, only to disappear when the birds have feasted!

The berries are a wonderful treat all winter for the birds…I wondered why? Well they are high in Vitamin C, and they are edible to humans also! Many people think that the berries are poisonous, but the seeds are what people need to use caution with. Like other seeds (apples for example) they have hydrogen cyanide in them. But to avoid any unpleasantness all one has to do is remove the seeds. Boiling the fruit, and straining the pulp is adequate.

The berries have been used in the past for jelly, jam, and for sauces. They are best harvested after a frost, to help sweeten them. Often they are added to other fruit…. added to sweet apples, or added to fruit with lower pectin.

Firethorn

Firethorn

Pyracantha Jelly
5 cups pyracantha berries
3 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups sugar
1 pkg pectin

Place 5 cups washed pyracantha berries in a very large pan with 3 cups of water. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Strain through a cloth. Measure 2 cups berry juice, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 5 cups sugar into a very large pan. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately stir in one pkg pectin, bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off foam and pour into sterilized glasses. Process the jars as you would any other jelly. Prepared berry juice may be refrigerated or frozen prior to making jelly.

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