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38 responses to “Manzanita Cider”

  1. Christie @ Fresh Local and Best

    I recall seeing these berries grow in Marin, and never knew they were edible. I certainly am intrigued with the flavors of this cider.

  2. robert

    I’ll take a manzatini straight up,please! I was familiar with manzanita from my visits out West, but I didn’t know the berries were (semi) edible. i can imagine that back in an earler time when there weren’t many beverage options a manzanita cider would have been a prized treat. Great post!

  3. Nate @ House of Annie

    Manzanitas are really beautiful plants. We had one growing in our front yard in San Jose. I loved them because of the bell shaped flowers which attracted the hummingbirds in Winter.

    I’m wondering if you can make a hard cider from this.

  4. Diana Foss

    If you had enough, would you think about fermenting it?

  5. Matt

    Cool! I wish I knew that back when I worked in a Cali forestry lab and spent my free time in Tahoe. Manzanitas are EVERYWHERE.

  6. Victor

    You’re going to start getting me into trouble. I got a bad enough look when I said i wanted to turn an old fridge into a meat curing hanger. Now I can only imagine the reaction when I tell her I am going to make manzanita cider next year. Then make hard cider from it if I get my brew kit. then turn the hard cider into vinegar. Sounds good though. Knoxville BLM area has manzanita as far as you can see.

  7. deana@lostpastremembered

    You amaze me. Very bold of you to take an ornamental and find it’s edible heart. I just bought barberries at Whole Foods, no less. I always thought were inedible… seems like the English have been eating them for centuries… who knew?

  8. Jen

    You get my total respect for sourcing the widest variety of ingredients. Can you get a Michelin star for foraging??

    My apple cider crapped out. Too tangy for cider, but not quite vinegar. Yikes! I knew it was bad when my husband saw it in the fridge and said “That’s cider? I thought it was cooking fat…

  9. kirsten

    Really fun post! Love your experimentation (and sharing all of it!)

  10. Stephanie

    I just made sumac lemonade this weekend — tasty stuff. If I’m ever in a position to harvest manzanita, I’ll give this a try.

  11. homegrown countrygirl

    You are so good with words and you tell a great story. I love it when you describe the whole process of how you figured out a new thing!

  12. Carol

    Oh, man! I grew up with manzanita bushes, knew in a vague way the fruits were “edible”, but never realized they were actually worth working with! Thanks for another great post–can’t wait to try it (we’re planning a Sierras camping trip in September and I know just where to find the manzanitas where we’ll be…).

  13. Phillip

    Now there’s a recipe I might actually follow.

    I’ve seen enough of the berries in coyote and bear scat to know it’s edible, but the one I tried to eat convinced me to leave it to the wildlife. It sounds like this might have potential for a kinda fun and tasty treat… and you can bet I’ll try the Manzatini! Kinda wonder what other libations you could do… maybe some sort of spritzer?

  14. Joshua

    It’s funny to read a commenter refer to these as “ornamentals.” But then again, I guess our Sierra Nevada and foothills are quite the envy of many a parking lot and front yard.

    I will definitely try this. I’m heading back up the mountain with my friend Kari next week some time. Will keep you posted.

  15. Ariana

    Dear Hank,
    You must get this all the time but I LOVE your blog!! I grew up in and live in Fair Oaks and spent all my vacations in Lake Tahoe and Yosemite so everything you post is so inspiring to me. Thank you! I’d love to meet you if you ever have a “thing”, book signing.?. I don’t know…

  16. Heather in SF @HeatherHAL

    How fascinating! I have never tried anything with berries. When I was growing up manzanita was the bane of the existence of some neighbors as it was impossible to dig up! I learned some colorful words from them! A park ranger up in the Lassen area taught my field biology school a cool trick about manzanita, the leaves when boiled produce a sap, when skimmed off, that is good for insect bites. It smelled great although I’m not sure it really helped our mosquito bites.

  17. angelina

    I don’t believe we have a lot of manzanita up here in Oregon. An edible wild plant we have here (and I believe you’ve got them in CA too) is the camas lily, I meant to harvest some this spring and roast them like the native Americans were supposed to have done. I should check your archives to see if you’ve already tried them!

  18. Doriantake

    Many years ago, we used to make a savory Manzanita Jelly and sell it for fundraisers at my old hippy grade school. Seriously good stuff,


  19. Cork@Cork'sOutdoors

    Now I know why big California black bears love to fill up on those manzanita berries during early bear season to get fat enough to survive winter…also why bear meat is so tastey from an early bear with a belly full of them!

  20. Lang

    Good stuff! Keep an eye out for mushrooms too when you’re skulking around in the manzanita. Manzanita boletes (a species of Leccinum) and black trumpets both have a thing for the “little apple.” Nice photos Holly.

  21. WanderChow

    This is really awesome! I wonder if we could find any up here in Washington? And thanks for the elderberry liqueur recipe. I’ve got a half-batch steeping as of today; scored them for free at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair. Can’t wait to taste it in a few weeks!

  22. IF

    I’ve made some from a large tree (probably 15ft tall) this weekend. Very green, but large fruit (cherry sized). Strong green apple taste, but a bit tart. Will keep it in the fridge a bit longer.

  23. Eric

    Sounds like an interesting recipe, sounds a little tart! I have found that when you wait till fall and pick the berries when they are dry and powdery all the sweetness is concentrated and all the bitter, tart tannin is totally gone. At this point the berries are very sweet when you suck on them. Just collect the dry berries, mash them up and put them in a fine strainer. Heat some water in a bowl and swish the strainer around for a while until the water turns a brown cider color. The resulting drink is very sweet with an apple like flavor, very reminiscent of apple cider. Use about 3/4 cup of berries to 1 cup of water, drink it hot or refrigerate before drinking.

  24. onehappyhippo

    In the spring time the flowers can be eaten right off the bush by the hand full & taste like honeysuckle. Very sweet & floral.

  25. agamemnon

    hmmm…if one happy hippo says the flowers are sweet and honeysuckle like, what about a flower syrup like the elderflower syrup? the season is upon us!

  26. Nate

    You may want to try the ripe berries instead of the green ones. When ripe they taste like apple and are sweet.

  27. Mary

    I have a made manzanita jelly for years, but have never considered cider. Living close to the land has always appealed to me and we have acres of manzanita bushes. This sounds wonderful. I think I’ll give it a try!

  28. Sarah

    I grew up in the Sierras and used to such the nectar from manzanita flowers every year as a bored child (you are lucky to get a quarter drop out of every bell-flower, and they usually come with ants), but I never considered that the berries would be eatable. This is a great page. I think I’ll give it a try.

  29. Tuesday Book Review – Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider | Leas of Lychten

    […] Shaw describes his experience making the cider in his blog:  While he says to use the berries when they are green with a blush in September in the Sierras, […]

  30. Leva Cygnet

    You can actually skip the hot water if you have a really good juicer. I’ve discovered I can throw the berries right in the juicer and get several tablespoonsfuls of juice from each cup of berries. Then, for each cup of manzanita, I pour 4 cups of cold water through the juicer too, to extract more flavor. The juice that results is bright green.

    Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar per cup of water, stir, and enjoy.

    (Note: The juicer I use is a vintage one from the 1970’s and has very powerful motor in it. I am not sure how a dinky modern juicer would fare in a manzanita vs. juicer contest …)

  31. Wait. What? Hard Cider…from Manzanita? | Wildness

    […] made ‘soft’ mancanita cider before (using Hank Shaw’s recipe: so I started with that, tweaking it […]

  32. Paul Astin

    I loved this. Beautifully written and full of great information. I am a massive fan of the manzanita and appreciated this description of cider making. I’m going to do this come spring. Thanks!

  33. Rebecca Finn

    I have a TON of manzanita on my property and had no idea I could make anything edible out of the berries! Big plans for spring now 🙂 Thank you, thank you!

  34. diana almendariz

    I am a native California Indian who is descended from the Nisenan Maidu who were slaughtered by the original 49ers. Fortunately, I still know how to make manzanita cider the way my Grandmother taught me, who wad a full blooded Maidu/Patwin. Our people used this berry for ceremonies and sustenance. The disconnect of the knowledge of this berry is not hidden, it’s ignored by history.

  35. Antonio

    Hey Diana, that’s awesome please share your recipe, and any extra information such as varieties and times for picking. This information should be respected as I can tell our irrigated farms are struggling! Thank you:)

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