When foraging keep your eyes out for the Kousa Dogwood tree, the fruit makes a beautiful jelly filled with flavors of the fall, this tree is really fun to pick fruit from, eat, make jelly or wine with. It’s a real hidden gem that most people don’t know about so I will let you in on my secret.
Native and grown to be eaten in Eastern Asia the Kousa Dogwood is a favorite ornamental tree in residential neighborhoods because of their creamy white, jasmine like flowers that cover the tree all spring and early to mid summer. In the fall healthy ones have large clusters of raspberry colored fruit, if you have a high squirrel population you may see them hanging from the trees chowing down, when I picked mine today I must have scared away a dozen of them all around the tree. So when the fruit is ripe pick it ASAP or the fat furry creatures will get them all…
Look for a large, bumpy, red fruit that looks like a strawberry on steroids with cherry stems. The fruit is beautiful and exotic and the tree is usually planted and used in landscaping, as an ornamental it is naturalized only in the New York area but really grows anywhere is the USA. You can also find it in protected or warmer areas farther north. As we speak there is a tree loaded with fruit in front of my daughters Catholic elementary school and I got permission from the Parish Priest to pick the fruit to make Kousa Dogwood Jelly. (Thank you Father Jamie!)
When you pick the fruit you want to get the brightest red ones that are very ripe. When you gently squeeze the fruit it will be soft and will pretty much fall off into your hand. Pluck them off the tree by the stem so they don’t get to squishy. Pick from a tree that has a lot of fruit, per Wildman Steve Brill the more fruit on the tree the sweeter the fruit will be. They are usually creamy, delicate, and sweet. If you eat them raw there are seeds inside the fruit and the skin is tough. Just peel the fruit back and suck the pulp spitting out the seeds.
Kousa fruit are similar in nutrition to the avocado, high in calcium and good fat the fruit provides support to the renal system, liver and kidneys. Kousa dogwood fruit is excellent for PMS symptoms by regulating blood flow. Kousa jelly is wonderful cooked with pumpkin pie spices it has a mango apple flavor and has the wonderful tastes of the fall…
(This recipe will make you 6 cups of jelly, when I wrote this I tripled it working in batches)
Making the jelly
Use 4 packed cups of ripe Kousa fruit (measure after you pass whole fruit roughly through a food processor or blender)
1 1/2 cups of water
7 cups of sugar
1 packet of powdered pectin for 2 quarts
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated if you can…
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
4 8 ounce canning jars
Fine mesh strainer
Set fruit and water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
When fruit and water mix is at a boil, turn heat down.
Measure sugar and pectin powder together into a bowl, then pour into fruit mixture while stirring.
Stir until sugar and pectin powder are fully incorporated. Add spices and vanilla. Bring temp back up and boil hard for 1 minutes more no more than a minute or it wont set.
Strain fruit mixture through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and press on the fruit solids to remove as much liquid as you can.
Ladle jelly liquid into sterilized canning jars.
To clarify the jelly further, you can use cheesecloth or a small strainer as you ladle the liquid into the canning jars at this step.
Immediately as you fill each jar, wipe each jar rim with a clean moist cloth kitchen towel and twist the lids just into place.
Wipe the jars down of any jelly liquid, which has dripped on the outside.
As the jars cool, continue to gently tighten the lids. Some of the jars may seal on their own by popping but I always give them a 15 minute water bath to seal them well.
Be sure to refrigerate and use any jars that do not seal.
Cool on the counter for 30 minutes before storing.
I will be selling this and allowing tasting at holiday markets his year.
Make pie put it on toast you will love it! My friend Gloria who is a baker, will be using it as a filling for one of her Fall cakes. I bet this is wonderful mixed with buttercream layered in a carrot cake!
Amy Wexler ~