Hawthorn Berry Juice (红果捞)

4.75 from 4 votes
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Hawthorn Berry Juice - a healthy and delicious treat in the winter. The juice is so rich, sweet, and fruity in flavor | omnivorescookbook.com

Hawthorn berry juice with fruit is a healthy treat in the winter. The juice is so rich, sweet, and fruity in flavor. The hawthorn berries are soft and tart. This combination makes a refreshing dessert after a heavy meal.

Enjoying hawthorn berry desserts is an important winter pastime in northern China. In this part of the country, the variety of winter fruits is extremely limited. So hawthorn berry comes in handy, because it can be stored for months without any problem. In my family, we have a family secret recipe to enjoy hawthorn berries and juice, that I want to introduce today.

Compared with an apple, a hawthorn fruit has a stronger and fruitier flavor, similar to that of other berries. The finished hawthorn juice has a color and flavor resembling that of cranberry juice, and freshly made hawthorn juice only tastes better.

Hawthorn Berry Juice - a healthy and delicious treat in the winter. The juice is so rich, sweet, and fruity in flavor | omnivorescookbook.com

If you add enough hawthorn berries, like in this recipe, the juice will be quite thick and rich. So instead of drinking the juice and discarding the fruit, we serve them in a small bowl and enjoy them together as a dessert. The hawthorn berries are quite sour by themselves, but after being heated and soaked in sugar water, their astringency disappears and the berries taste far less sour.

I especially enjoy serving chilled hawthorn juice with the berries after a heavy meal. The sweet and sour juice helps digestion and is quite refreshing.

Hawthorn Berry Juice - a healthy and delicious treat in the winter. The juice is so rich, sweet, and fruity in flavor | omnivorescookbook.com

Hawthorn Berry Juice - a healthy and delicious treat in the winter. The juice is so rich, sweet, and fruity in flavor | omnivorescookbook.com

What is hawthorn fruit?

Chinese hawthorn berry, or the fruit of the crataegus pinnatifida (山楂, shan zha; 红果, hongguo), is a small bright red fruit that resembles a crabapple. It is about 1 inch (3 centimeters) in diameter, has a smooth, dark red surface, and a white interior that is creamy and less juicy than that of an apple. The fresh fruit has a tart and astringent flavor such that it is not especially tasty if eaten raw. So it is usually processed into snacks and desserts. One of the most famous Chinese desserts is tanghulu (糖葫芦) – candied hawthorn berries.

Fresh Hawthorn Berries | omnivorescookbook.com

Candied Hawthorn | omnivorescookbook.com

Hawthorn berries have massive health benefits, such as treatment of heart disease, regulating  high and low blood pressure, improving the digestive system, and lowering cholesterol (according to WebMD, anyway). If you are using it as treatment and looking for a way to work it into your diet, this hawthorn juice recipe will be a great addition to your collection.

In my family, we’ve never considered this dish to be medicinal, but rather just a healthy dessert. We really enjoy the great flavor of the homemade juice, which tastes better than any bottled juice from the supermarket. It is really easy to make in large batches and it lasts a few months if you store it properly. My mom usually makes a huge pot of hawthorn juice that can last us one to two months (it can be stored longer but we always finish it before it goes bad).

Hawthorn Berry Juice - a healthy and delicious treat in the winter. The juice is so rich, sweet, and fruity in flavor | omnivorescookbook.com

Last week, we just made a new batch, while fresh hawthorn berries were still available at the market. We know we will need this refreshing dessert after overindulging in meat and protein during the coming Chinese New Year!

I made a short video to show you how easy it is to cook this beautiful hawthorn juice. If you like the video, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel! I have a collection of cooking videos that walk you through the delicious recipes at Omnivore’s Cookbook. It is one of the fastest ways for you to get used to the techniques that are used in Chinese cooking!

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Hawthorn Berry Juice

4.75 from 4 votes
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 1 day 30 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours 47 minutes
Servings: 8 cups


  • 1.2 kilograms 2.6 pounds fresh hawthorn berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams 7 ounces rock sugar


  • Add hawthorn berries into a large pot and rinse several times with tap water.
  • Add water to cover the hawthorn berries. Sprinkle salt over the water and mix well. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, in order to clean the fruit thoroughly.
  • Rinse with tap water again. Transfer to a colander to drain. Set aside until the berries are dry.
  • To prepare hawthorn berries, use a knife to cut the fruit in half against the seed. Hold each piece of the fruit with both hands and gently squeeze and pull until the fruit separates in half. Use the knife to gently pry the seed out. Use the knife to cut off the tough end of the bottom. Set aside and prepare the rest of the hawthorn berries in the same way.
  • (Optional) If you are using multi-crystal rock sugar, the sugar might come in large chunks. To break it into small pieces (so they dissolve better), place rock sugar into a paper (or plastic) bag and hit it with a small hammer (or the back of a cleaver).
  • Transfer all the hawthorn berries to a large pot. Spread rock sugar on top.
  • Bring 1.4 liter (1.5 quarts) water to a boil. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Pour the hot water over hawthorn berries and give it a quick stir with a ladle. Cover and place the pot in a cool place for 24 hours (or place in the fridge after it cools enough to do so).
  • When the hawthorn juice is ready the next day, use a ladle to mix again. Transfer the juice and hawthorn berries into clean airtight jars (you can refer to this article about how to sterilize jars).

About storage

  • I don’t often sterilize jars, because my family generally consumes the juice within a few weeks. Using clean jars that are washed with dish detergent and air dried, I can store the hawthorn juice (with fruit) in the fridge for up to 2 months without any problem.
  • Shelf life varies and you should always judge the juice based on its color and smell. If the juice starts to lose its transparency or there is white mold on the hawthorn berries, you should discard the whole jar of juice. If you open a jar and don’t finish the drink, you should consume it as soon as possible, within a week.
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says:

    5 stars
    You’re always introducing me to new and wonderful things, Maggie! This looks amazing!

  2. Helen @ Scrummy Lane says:

    Once again I’ve learnt something today, Maggie! Hawthorn berries sound wonderful, and I hope I get the chance to try them some time. Beautiful photos as well!

  3. 5 stars
    I have never see or had hawthorn berries but they do look so delicious and so does the juice. Lovely recipe.

  4. I googled it and it seems we can’t get Hawthorn berries here! 🙁 I was so drawn in by this post Maggie. Your photos are stunning. STUNNING!

    • Maggie says:

      That’s the thing I was worried about! I started to regret when I finished the post, because I can’t find a lot of information about hawthorn berry online. I even didn’t find a way to calculate the nutrition facts 🙁 Let’s hope hawthorn berry will become the next super food after kale, so you can get it even in Australia!

  5. Joyce says:

    4 stars
    Wow, tanhulu! Haven’t have them for a long long time. Thanks for sharing the hawthorn juice recipe, Maggie. I would love to try them. I only can find dried hawthorn berries at my local Chinese stores, but not the fresh ones. Where did you get them? I am in the States.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Joyce, thanks so much for stopping by! I’m in China, so I can easily get fresh hawthorn berries. I didn’t expect hawthorn is a special thing until I posted this. Actually several friends told me that they cannot find fresh hawthorn berries outside of China. So sorry I can’t really help you here 🙁
      Have a great weekend!

      • Joyce says:

        Thanks Maggie. I guess I have to make a trip back to China to enjoy them. 😛

        Happy Chinese New Year! 🙂

      • Anna Carmela Guida says:

        Dear Maggie! Thank you for the excellent recipe. I will try it on Swedish hawthorn. Also here they are very small, maybe 1 cm. Is The name in latin here is Crataegus; is it the same that you are using but perhaps another sort of the same family?
        Anna C.

  6. Steve Lafreniere says:

    I have never seen hawthorn berries that size. The one here on the west coast of the U.S. are very small, maybe 1/8 inch across. I have a couple of cups of them. Maybe I’ll try to adapt your recipe. It is very inviting!

    • Maggie says:

      It’s interesting to know that you can find hawthorn berries in the US! Not sure whether they have the same flavor but I think you can definitely try to use this recipe. If it’s impossible to take out the seeds due to their small size, you can skip that step and make it into a drink instead of a dessert.
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂

  7. Madison Street says:

    Hi Maggie! I am a foreigner in China looking to make your delicious looking recipe! However, I’m not sure where I can find Rock Sugar, do most Chinese supermarkets in Beijing carry it? Is there any way I can substitute the Rock Sugar for normal sugar? 🙂

    Thanks in Advance!

    • Maggie says:

      Yes, most supermarkets carry rock sugar. It’s usually in the sugar section, packaged in plastic bags.
      Of course you can use granulated sugar as well!

      • Madison Street says:

        5 stars
        Thanks Maggie!

        Is there any conversion needed for granulated sugar needed? i.e., more/less granulated sugar needed in place of rock sugar, then what is called for in the recipe above? 🙂

  8. Adeline says:

    Hi, just to say your recipe is amazing! I bought some fresh hawthorn berries from a local supermarket out of curiosity. But I did not like the texture of the fruit and did not know what to do with the rest of them until I stumbled upon your post. This hawthorn juice was so easy to make and it tasted so good! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Ming Lee says:

    Hi Maggie,
    Can you please tell me the name of this kind of hawthorn and where can I find them. Your website is amazing.
    Thanks, Ming

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Ming, I used the only type of hawthorn we can find back in Beijing when I made this dish. Since I moved to the US, I haven’t able to locate hawthorns in grocery stores. I’m afraid I don’t have more information regarding your questions. Sorry!

      • Kay says:

        Hawthorn is also called May, and grows plentifully in the northeast. I am in upstate New York, looking at Hawthorn trees full of blossoms. This fall, I will try your recipe!


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