Toyon Preserves Recipe

Toyon Preserves Recipe

Learn all about toyon, a California native plant that’s also called the Christmas berry, and check out our recipe for two different flavors of seasonally spiced preserves!

Click here to get the recipe.








Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a California native plant that’s also called the Christmas berry or the California holly. It gets its common names from its shiny green leaves and bright red berries, which ripen in the winter. In the summer, this shrub sprouts lovely little white flowers.

While mealy and astringent before cooking, the berries have been eaten raw. Toyon is a significant resource to Native American tribes including the Chumash, Tongva, Luiseno, Kumeyaay, Cahuilla, and Costanoan peoples. They steep the flowers and leaves to make medicinal tea, create infusions of the bark and leaves for washing wounds, and use the wood for tools and fuel.

Tongva peoples, who call the plant ashuwet, traditionally prepare the berries by roasting them, cooking them in an earthen oven, or boiling them to make cider.

And, of course, the fruit is made into jellies!

We’ve developed two recipes for toyon preserves; we encourage you to try both and let us know which you like better. These preserves make a wonderful addition to any gathering, or a sweet homemade gift. Enjoy!

Please note that in California, it is illegal to harvest toyon on public land, or on private land without landowner permission, due to overharvesting.