The hawthorn berry, also known as Shan Zha in Pinyin, has been used by the Chinese since ancient time. Hawthorn berry is edible and has a hard texture and thin flesh and has a slightly sour and sweet taste. The fruit looks like crab apple and is often sold as Haw flakes, a dark pink tangy candy.
The plant and fruit have been used by the Chinese for hundreds of years as an ingredient in traditional medicine. It has been considered as medicine to whet the appetite, promote digestion, and facilitate bowel movement and the ideal ingredient when cooking for the elderly. The hawthorn fruit is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Fresh hawthorn berries can also be used as a meat tenderizer.
Eating too many hawthorn berries can cause hyperacidity and could lead to gastro lithiasis and small bowel obstruction. Pregnant women should avoid eating hawthorn berries as it will stimulate uterine contraction.
Hawthorn berries are sold thinly sliced and dried in many of the Asian shops particularly the shops selling traditional Chinese medicines. These dried hawthorn berries can be used to make delicious and healthy soups and teas.