Haudenosaunee Strawberry Drink Recipe

It's finally strawberry season in San Diego, and what better to celebrate than with a fresh pitcher of traditional, Haudenosaunee strawberry drink?

Strawberries are an important part of the Haudenosaunee food culture, so much so that they are even mentioned in our creation story. According to one version, the Earth was created when a woman fell from the Sky World and landed on a turtle's back. Many water animals tried to dive to find mud from under the sea, but the only one to survive was a muskrat. He brought mud up from deep below the surface of the water and put it on the turtle's back, helping to create Turtle Island as we know it today.

When the Sky Woman died and her body was buried, various plants sprouted from the earth. The Three Sisters of corn, beans and squash came from her head; tobacco from her heart; and various medicines and strawberries from her feet.

Strawberries are known to have many health benefits: they are good sources of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6 and folate; they're rich in antioxidants; and they are a natural blood thinner.

Today, strawberries remain an integral part of our culture, and are celebrated each year through singing, dancing and storytelling in June during the Strawberry Festival. The following recipe for Haudenosaunee strawberry drink uses sugar instead of the more traditional maple sap (which is pretty much impossible to find in Southern California), but the flavor of this juice makes for another way to enjoy this delightful fruit.

🍓2 pints of fresh strawberries 
🍓2 TBS sugar 
🍓Fresh, filtered Water (enough to fill pitcher)

1. Remove leaves from strawberries, then slice them lengthwise.
2. Save 6 strawberries-worth of slices and mash remaining strawberries with a fork, muddler or potato masher. 
3. Mix sugar with mashed strawberries, and then add the mixture and sliced strawberries to a 1 gallon pitcher.
4. Fill the remainder of the pitcher with fresh water and enjoy. Can be served chilled or over ice.

Note: You can omit the sugar if you desire a less sweet or healthier juice. You can also substitute agave syrup, maple sap (not syrup) or honey for the sugar - just add a little at a time until it is the desired level of sweetness.

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Unknown said…
Thanks/merci for the recipe to this most delicious strawberry juice! I am from Montreal/Tio'tia:ke and each time that I go to Kahnawake's Powwow , I have the greatest pleasure of drinking this strawberry juice. It's so good and the most refreshing, and now I can make some thanks to you. I also love how you present the strawberry and explain it's importance. Niawen!
Lauren J. Mapp said…
Niawen/Merci/Thank you for reading the blog and for your lovely comments, Genevieve! My family is originally from Kahnawake, although I grew up in Massachusetts before our family moved to the Akwesasne reservation in New York. Strawberry drink always reminds me of festivals and ceremonies in Kahnawake and elsewhere throughout the Haudenosaunee region.
Elizabeth said…
Niawen/Merci for sharing Lauren!
Hahaha Genevieve!
I searched for this juice recipe by typing "kahnawake strawberry juice recipe"
The pow wow I attend yearly made me a fan of the strawberry juice.
So happy we can gather again...
Have a Happy Summer 2021!
Unknown said…
Thanks for posting this recipe! An internet friend recommended it to me and boy is it delicious.
Diego said…
I have a question. If honey, sugar, and agave syrup can substitute the more traditional maple sap, why can't maple syrup? Is there a food science reason or taste reason?

Thank you!
Diego said…
I have a question! If honey, sugar, and agave syrup can substitute for traditional maple sap, why can't maple syrup? Is there a taste/food science reason?

Thank you!
Lauren J. Mapp said…
Thanks for your comment, Diego. Yes, maple syrup has a distinct flavor since the sugar is caramelized as it cooks down, so it changes the flavor of the drink. If you don't mind that change, then it is fine to use, but I personally prefer using cane sugar, honey or agave when I don't have access to maple sap. If you do use maple syrup, I would use a golden grade as it has the lightest flavor and color.
Hayes said…
Thanks for posting. I’m reading this to my daughter and my wife who are Native American from the Onondaga. We had brought strawberries home and my wife was wearing a handmade beaded strawberry earring and I thought it would be nice to find out how the strawberry drink is made but also the story behind it. Helps keep the stories and traditions going. Again thank you.
Lauren J. Mapp said…
I am so happy that you were able to connect with my story about Haudenosaunee Strawberry Drink and share this moment with your wife and daughter. I hope you share many more happy memories drinking it together!


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