Preserving the Season – Rowan & Apple Jelly

Rowan and Apple Jelly – A deliciously smoky, tangy and jewel-like jelly that goes perfectly with game, lamb, cheese and charcuterie. Made with “free” foraged berries from a tree on the lane opposite our house, and with windfall apples from our orchard.

Rowan and Apple Jelly - A deliciously smoky, tangy and jewel-like jelly that goes perfectly with game, lamb, cheese and charcuterie. Made from "free" foraged berries.

Rowan berry jelly

The red berry tree waved its branches provocatively in the gentle breeze, flaunting her jewelled bounty as I washed the dishes after Sunday lunch. There she stood, in the hedgerow opposite our house, a once unremarkable tree save for her verdant green leaves, she was now positively blooming, with boughs trailing almost to the ground which were laden with bright red berries, that almost glowed in the late summer sun. I have always loved Rowan trees, and remember my maternal grandmother telling me stories about their “magic powers”, they are trees that are steeped in history with links going right back to the Druids and Celtic Britain.

Rowan berries

The Rowan belongs to the rose family and is known by several names, “Mountain Ash”, “The Lady of the Mountain”, “Witch Wiggin Tree”, “Keirn” and “Cuirn”. Its links to ancient Britain and Druids and Celts is that they believed that the tree was sacred, and that you could only use any part of it for special religious ceremonies. Even the Vikings held the tree in high esteem, and made “Runes” from the wood which were then worn to protect them against sorcery or the “evil eye”. You will often see Rowan trees planted near the doorways and gates of country houses, barns and cottages, as they were also believed to protect the household from evil spirits and misfortune.

Magic Rowan Tree

The berries are a beautiful bright scarlet, and are packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as containing more vitamin C than citrus fruits. The berries when eaten raw are bitter, but not poisonous, although they will give you an upset stomach, so the best way to eat them for their medicinal properties, of which there are many, is to make jam, jelly or wine with them. I remember enjoying a wonderful plate of locally reared lamb when I was on the Isle of Mull many years ago, which was accompanied by a vibrant red jelly, which I subsequently discovered was rowan jelly. The taste stayed with me for years, and so this year I have decided to make my own, especially as the tree opposite was beckoning me to pick the berries!

Rowan berry jelly

My recipe for Rowan & Apple Jelly is shared below, on a printable recipe card, and is extremely easy to make – you just need to plan ahead, as you need to collect the juice from the berries and fruit overnight before making the jelly the next day. If you are after a slightly “Campari” or “Aperol” bitter taste, than use half the weight of the berries with apples. If you want a mellower taste, than use equal measures of berries and apples, but the colour won’t be as red and jewel-like though. I’ve been scouring the hedgerows for a few weeks now, picking blackberries and sloes, and even some rose-hips, all for preserving, so do keep popping back to see what I’ve made in part two of my new Hedgerow Harvest series. Bye for now, Karen 

A lovely video below by The Woodland Trust – A Year in the Life of a Rowan Tree

Rowan and Apple Jelly

Serves 2 x 225g jars
Prep time 24 hours, 30 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 25 hours, 15 minutes

Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type



Barbecue, Birthday Party, Casual Party, Christmas, Easter, Formal Party, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentines day
Region British

By author

Karen Burns-Booth

A deliciously smoky, tangy and jewel-like jelly that goes perfectly with game, lamb, cheese and charcuterie. Made from “free” foraged berries.


  • 450g rowan berries
  • 225g cooking apples
  • Water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sugar (white cane or granulated)


A deliciously smoky, tangy and jewel-like jelly that goes perfectly with game, lamb, cheese and charcuterie. Made from “free” foraged berries.


Step 1 Rinse and dry the rowan berries, then chop the apples – there is no need to peel them or core them.
Step 2 Place the rowan berries and the apples into a pan, and then add a little water, about 150ml to 200ml.
Step 3 Bring the fruit to boiling point and then turn the heat down and simmer it gently for 20 to 30 minutes, mashing the fruit towards the end as it softens.
Step 4 Ladle the fruit into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl or large measuring jug, and allow to drip overnight, DO NOT be tempted to press or squeeze the fruit, as this will result in a cloudy jelly, although it will still taste good.
Step 5 For every 600ml of juice collected, that’s 1 pint, add 450g (1lb) of sugar to the juice and place it all in a pan with the lemon juice.
Step 6 Bring to the boil and boil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the setting point has been reached. **
Step 7 Once the setting point has been reached, take off the heat and spoon off any scum that has risen to the surface, then ladle into hot, clean and sterilised jam jars, and seal whilst still hot to create a vacuum.
Step 8 Label when cold and store in a cool, dry and dark place.
Step 9 **Setting point**
Flake test – dip a large spoon into the pan of jam and scoop out a spoonful – hold the spoon horizontally over the pan of jam and allow the jam to drip……setting point has been reached when the jam forms a long drip-like webbed feet, and hangs without dropping from the spoon.
Cold saucer test – Place two or three saucers into the freezer; spoon a spoonful of jam onto the cold saucer, and push it with your finger, setting point has been reached when the jam wrinkles and isn’t runny.
Temperature test – Use a sugar thermometer and place the thermometer into a jug of boiling water just before testing for a set; lower the thermometer into the jam and setting point has been reached when the reading is 104.5C (220F)

More Jam and Jelly Recipes:

Alchemy and Stained Glass Windows…..Home-made Quince Jelly

Crab Apples, Windfalls and Mint from the Herb Garden ~ Apple and Mint Jelly

Summer Berries again………Mixed Currant  and Lavender Jelly

Homemade Blackberry Jam

Davidstow Festive Cheeseboard Challenge & Spiced Fig Jam

The Alchemy of Fruit & Sugar: One Punnet Raspberry Jam

An Old Cottage Garden and Pink Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam Recipe

Wild Meadow Flowers, Buttery Brioche & Traditional Greengage Jam Recipe

Rowan berry jelly

Rowan Tree Berries