Agarita Jelly, how to harvest and how to make it

Agarita Jelly

Back in May of 2010, I noticed around the farm that we had an ABUNDANCE of beautiful agarita berries.  If you have never heard of agaritas before, they are a Texas native plant that produce a very sweet-tart like red berry about the 1/4″ in diameter. Someone said, “Hey you should make some agarita jelly!”.  Sure, why not.

The first thing we had to do was figure out how to get the darn things off the bush and into the kitchen without turning our hands into pin cushions.  Agarita bushes have very nasty prickly leaves.  Eventually I decided a sheet, some welding gloves, and a croquet mallet needed to get involved.

With a lot of hitting the bushes we started to see some results…

Sometimes I had to give them a shake as well to get the berries off…

What we got was a whopping 14lbs of agarita berries, ready to be sorted, juiced, and made into jelly.

Sorting took the most time…. and OUCH those dry agarita leaves are the worst!

I then boiled the berries in a little bit of water just enough to make them pop open and become tender.

Put the boiled berries in a cheesecloth, then squeeze, mash, stomp, whatever it takes to get as much juice as possible out of them.

The juice looked like fruit punch, was very tasty, and was immediately made into jelly.  We used 1 part juice, 1/2 part sugar, low sugar fruit pectin, then jarred up and canned 24 8oz. jars!  Beauty!

Agarita Jelly

Agarita Jelly
Recipe type: jelly
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
How to make agarita jelly after you have harvested the juice from the berries.
  • 1 part agarita juice
  • ½ part sugar
  • low sugar fruit pectin (follow directions on box)
  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. Boil for 3 minutes
  3. Can in canning jars


20 thoughts on “Agarita Jelly, how to harvest and how to make it

  1. Next time use two layers of leather gloves and ‘comb’ the berries off the branches.
    Clean the leaves out with a very low pressure air nozzle in a tray.

    Turn the berries into pulp using a blender (preserves freshness)
    add a little Agave nectar, an equal part of Tequila, shake with ice and “Voila”
    Agarita Margarita!



      • Ben, use an umbrella & stick! Place the umbrella under the limb & hit with a stick & they fall right in! Then wind the berries to get most of the leaves etc out. Wash in a colander several times to get dirt etc out. Cook down & strain through a large tea strainer! Much easier!

    • Yum! I love that idea. I also like the fact that you use the entire berry, fiber and all instead of just the juice. I live on a lot in Leander but I am adding back in as many Texas native plants as I can. Agarita is just one of the plants I purchased and have added. Nave you tried American Beautyberry? No thorny leaves!

  2. However……the way you did it is the old Texan way. I remember as a kid watching them smack the agrito bush with a huge branch to knock the berries off onto a white bed sheet just like you did. Thanks for the memories

  3. Great report and comments on Agarita berries. I just purchased 45 acres of land near Burnet TX and it has about 200 Agarita bushes. Inspite of the draught I still had large amounts of berries and I harvested a couple of five gal. buckets full and made some beautiful jelly, but it was a little too sweet. Next year I will use a different recipe that requires less sugar.

    I gathered them via the tarp and beating technique and it worked well. I separated the berries from the chaff by stretching a tarp on the patio and placing a fan behind my buckets and poured the berries back and forth between two five gal. buckets. The chaff blew out on the tarp and the berries fell into the bucket below. It worked beautifully.

    I have pictures but don’t know how to post them on your site.

    Anybody that wants to pick berries next year should contact me.


    Glenn Peavy

    • Some 25 years ago I made a batch of agarita jelly, and I’ve never forgotten the super tart flavor. I now live in Missouri, but have been contemplating a trip home during the agarita berry season, in order to make a new batch. Can anyone tell me when that would be in the San Antonio/Kerrville area?

    • Hi Glen, Would you consider selling 2 or 3 bushes? I’very trying to find some from nurseries to no luck. I live in NM and had picked the berries as a kid so my mom could make that “best jelly in the world”! It’s been 50 years since I’ve had it, but I can still remember how it tasted. No jelly flavor can compare. If you can’t, thanks for posting. Rod Cass

  4. My grandfather always used the wind to get out the loose leaves. Wait for a breeze and slowly pour the berries from one bucket to another. The berries are heavy enough to fall straight into the bucket while the wind picks up the leaves and sends them out of the mix.

    • Corey thank you for sharing your great memories of your grandpa. My 92 year old mom has wonderful memories of her mom and dad harvesting “agritos” in Beltram, Tx and her mom making agritos jelly. I looked up agritos to see if that’s what she remembered, and happily it is.

  5. Pingback: Cajeta with Ben Guyton from Austin, Texas

  6. Winding them gets rid of the leaves and the stink bugs. The berries make a super jelly. Texas has a lot of wild fruit, if you know how to find it.

  7. Very glad I found this blog! We are watching the agaritas blooming right now on my husband’s family property, and he was reminiscing about his grandmother making this jelly, so I’m looking forward to my chance! The wind idea seems like a winner – it IS West Texas, after all. Wind is in abundance.

    • I didnt use any jell in mine..there is enough pectin in the fruit to jell it.The rest of the plant is very good for your health also. Make a tincture of the leaves and stems, I wouldnt use the roots, well cause thats the end of the plant if you some research and see if this is not so…

  8. Wonderful Ben! Thanks for sharing. Freezing rinsed berries should burst the cell walls and render even more juice and make mashing the berries easier. I use the quick-freeze method for extracting all possible juice from prickly pear fruits. The glocids make picking and juicing the fruit prickly. So I want every drop of juice possible for my efforts.

  9. This article was super helpful! Gave great advice and pictures were beautiful.
    We put a tarp under branches and used a broom to knock the berries, then “combed” some of the fuller branches wearing leather gloves. Use your best Texas protective clothes for all this! Long-sleeve denim shirt, heavy blue jeans, and HEAVY, STRONG leather work gloves. And of course cowboy boots. My father-in-law warned that rattlers cozy down and hide under these bushes. Be careful!

  10. Our first batch of jelly turned out great, I ground the cleaned berries in a blender, and strained it through tea strainer and cheesecloth. I used a ratio of 1 cup of juice to 1-1/4 cups of sugar. 3 cups of juice and 3-3/4 c. sugar, plus 1 box of Sure Jell made about 48 ounces of delicious, pretty jelly. It set very nicely.

    The author of the website used much less sugar, but from the Sure Jell instructions I was concerned about it setting. However, I would like to try less sugar, aim for more tart jelly. Also want to try pepper-Agarita jelly as well. Suggestions welcome. Serrano’s sound good.

    In Brownwood, harvest is late May. It’s almost over, but we had LOTS of berries. Great year for Texas plants and animals, all the lovely, welcome rain!

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