Sharing the Tradition: Mayhaw Jelly

Nov 20th 2020

Growing up, you fell into 1 of 4 categories.

  1. Peanut Butter & Jelly
  2. Peanut Butter only
  3. Jelly Only
  4. None of the above

It is hard to imagine Peanut Butter without its counterpart. Many are simply able to dip their spoons into a Peanut Butter or a Jelly container, sit in front of the television and have the perfect snack.

As we got older, we find Jelly throughout our lives still. As spreads or used with cooking or even with our own children whom we teach to be in the same category we were in when we were young.

Jelly, like so many other foods, has so many sub-categories and types but, here in Georgia, it is hard to argue against Mayhaw Jelly.

A celebrated delicacy of southern U.S cuisine, wild mayhaws are cranberry-like members of the apple family. They’re most commonly found throughout the wetlands of South Georgia and host a short season of only three weeks, making harvesting tough and furious. Mayhaws tend to ripen in late April through May, which is where they get their name – “May,” after the month in which they are harvested, and “haw” after the Hawthorne berry. Once crafted into jelly, the mayhaw’s delicate flavor is fruity but still leaves a ‘zing’ on the tip of your tongue, making it the perfect partner of toast, bagels, or a hot buttered biscuit.

Stripling’s General Store closely works with a small town producer who creates small batches of Wild Mayhaw Jelly by hand, staying true to their original recipe and southern traditions. When visiting, Stripling’s Mayhaw Jelly could easily get overlooked – lined along the shelf in neat rows at each of Striplings General Store’s locations. The Mayhaw Jelly fits right in with Stripling’s other natural jellies. However, those who are aware of the history of the mayhaw or who have had the opportunity taste a dollop of the wild-fruity jelly rarely return to ordinary jellies.

Mayhaw berries grow on trees along the swampy banks of southern Georgia. To harvest, foragers must wait for the berries to drop ripe from their branches before collecting them with nets by boat. Because of this cumbersome process, little interest was taken in the mayhaw fruit. However, certain southern families dating back to the Antebellum times were known to have admired the mayhaw berry for its ornamental beauty, and often went Mayhaw picking as an annual family outing. It’s from these families that the tradition of Wild Mayhaw Jelly has been continued.

In today’s do-it-yourself society, some people might think that they could roll up their sleeves and make their own Wild Mayhaw Jelly. While it might be possible, we guarantee it won’t be as tasty as Stripling’s! So the next time you’re baking biscuits, grilling game, or even roasting a lamb, pull out a jar of Stripling’s Wild Mayhaw Jelly and share the tradition.