Foraging Cornus Kousa at Reuthe's

Cornus Kousa (var. chinensis) is most commonly known as the Chinese Dogwood, a deciduous flowering tree with a vase-shaped habit. It likes a damp, hummusy, woodland-type soil hence why it does so well within the extensive Reuthes woodland arboretum. We have a number of fine mature examples in our grounds and they are accessible from our free woodland walks - so now is a great time to see Cornus Kousa at it’s most magnificent.
The Kousa dogwood “flower” occurs in late spring made up from four narrowly pointed petal-like white bracts which surround the central cluster of insignificant green true flowers. Flowers are followed by sizeable nobbly fruits which mature to a seductive blush-red into Autumn. The fruits are deliciously sweet and to my mind taste somewhere between a mango, a fig and a pumpkin. The soft velvety flesh works well as a puree in tarts (as the French make), as a compote to mix into granola or cakes and muffins, and also as a foraged wild food jam or jelly. I’ve also experimented with pickling them to serve with cheese and also preserving them in a cider syrup. But a word to the wise, the fruits contain a gelatinous stone similar to a lychee, which needs to be removed before cooking or strained out afterwards.
Enjoy wild foraged food!

makes around 6 x 250ml jars

  • 1.3Kg of ripe Kousa fruit (measured after it is run through a food processor.)
  • 510ml of water
  • 2.38Kg of sugar
  • 1 packet of powdered pectin or lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • jam/kilner jars
  • fine mesh strainer

Directions: Set fruit and water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  When fruit and water mix is at a boil, turn heat down.  Mix sugar and pectin powder together into a bowl, then pour into fruit mixture while stirring.  Stir until sugar and pectin powder are fully incorporated.   Add spices and vanilla.  Bring temperature back up and boil hard for 1 minute more – no MORE than a minute or it won’t set.

Strain fruit mixture through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and press on the fruit solids to remove as much liquid as you can.  Ladle jelly liquid into sterilized canning jars.  To clarify the jelly further, you can use cheesecloth or a small strainer as you ladle the liquid into the canning gars at this step.  Immediately as you fill each jar, wipe each jar rim with a clean moist cloth kitchen towel and twist the lids just into place.  Wipe the jars down of any jelly liquid which as dripped on the outside. 

As the jars cool, continue to gently tighten the lids.  Some of the jars may seal on their own by popping but I always give them a 15-minute water bath to seal them well.  Be sure to refrigerate and use any jars that do not seal.  Cool on the counter for 30 minutes before storing.


makes about 12

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease a standard twelve cup muffin tin.

  • 640g of plain flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sieved
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 510g of Kousa Dogwood berry puree
  • 227g of light brown sugar
  • 227g of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sliced almonds and raw cane sugar to sprinkle on top of the muffins.

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the puree, sugar, butter, egg and extract.

Add to the flour mixture and fold in until just combined. Do not over mix.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cups and sprinkle with sliced almonds and the raw sugar. Bake until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 20-25 minutes.

Cool before removing from the pan.