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The Callahan Garden Page


Travis & Diana Callahan

11403 Wesley Road

Abbeville, LA 70510

Our experience growing fruit has covered 19 years at one location (Lindsey Drive) and the past 12 years here in our subdivision yard (Wesley Road). At the previous location we had 85 fruit trees and were testing many varieties of pear, fig, persimmon, mayhaw , and others. From the experiences gained over those years, when the flood of Hurricane Rita caused us to re-locate to this smaller property, we planted our favorite trees of each kind.  


We enjoy gardening year round here in South Louisiana with it's fairly mild winters. We grow trees and flowering shrubs native to the area and also a fruit orchard numbering  some 22  trees and several muscadine and grape vines as well as Blueberry bushes . These are some of the fruit we grow:



ClasseyMayhaw is one of my favorites.

Mayhaw fruit is native to several of the Deep South states and really thrives here. The jelly made from the Mayhaw is in our opinion the best jelly made . We also use the fruit to make pies, syrup, and a fine wine. The range of the mayhaw is from Northern Florida to East Texas, and from the Gulf to about the South Arkansas border. The fruit is very low chill and because of this can not be reliably grown on a commercial basis North of the Louisiana /Arkansas state line. This fruit is not familiar to most gardeners but a commercial fruit juice extraction factory, Grant Fruit Processing,  is now operating in Pollock, Louisiana and it is possible to order juice from several varieties of fruit. My friend Billy Craft of Woodworth Louisiana, is a co-author of the book entitled Mayhaws a guide to orchard production and propagation.


The Gem Mayhaw tree and twelve other mayhaw trees were removed by the new owner of our former home.

The Mayhaw jelly is the best jelly  in my opinion and is the Louisiana State jelly.

 I have planted two Maxine Mayhaw trees and a new Red Champ, and a grafted Classey Mayhaw  in my current orchard.

Our first harvest of Maxine Mayhaw was 2013
First harvest of Red Champ Mayhaw was 2014

From Diana's Kitchen


Diana's Traditional Mayhaw Jelly

Sterilize 4 pint jars per batch of jelly.

Put 4 cups (one quart) juice in a glass or stainless steel pot . Bring to a boil. 

Add 1 package powdered Sure Jell Pectin   

Bring to a rolling boil 3 minutes 

Add 5 cups sugar, bring to a boil for 1 minute.

Fill bottle to 1/4 inch from top, cap   with new seal lid not quite tight .  

After filling the bottles, place in boiling water bath   (with just a slight and steady boil) with the water level at least one inch higher than the bottles and allow ten minutes boiling time. Carefully lift the bottles onto a towel and cover with a second towel to cool slowly. At this time you may hear a snapping sound as the bottles begin to  seal.

I have always wondered  what mayhaw jelly would taste like with less sugar or sugar free. In the traditional jelly recipe you will notice that there are 4 cups of Mayhaw juice but five cups of sugar. 

Are we tasting the true taste of the mayhaw fruit  or mostly sugar?  I must say that I love the taste of traditional Mayhaw jelly and have grown mayhaw for the past twenty eight years. But I always wondered if I could find a low sugar recipe that would have a lesser amount of sugar to allow the true mayhaw flavor to be prominent. A jelly that I would be proud to share with friends and family.

Experiments with so called "low sugar" pectins were basically failures. Several years ago I saw an ad and I decided to order some Pomona Universal Pectin and try the low sugar jelly using their product. After all these years I took that product off the pantry shelf and made a batch.   Nothing I know of can produce as good a mayhaw as the traditional recipe. If one still wants to have a decent mayhaw jelly but with lower sugar due to health concerns my new Recipe is below . This one removes 60% of the sugar.



Low Sugar Mayhaw Jelly Recipe  

Using Pomona Universal Pectin

4 cups Mayhaw juice into a large stainless or glass pot.

Thoroughly mix 4 teaspoons Pomona Universal Pectin and 2 cups of sugar  and set aside.

Add 4 teaspoons calcium water into the juice ( calcium is supplied in the  pectin package) 

Bring juice to a boil.

Add the sugar and pectin into the juice and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve pectin. 

Return to a boil stirring well 

Remove from heat

Fill jars to 1/4 inch from top, tighten lid just snug. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes to complete process.

Note : Always sterilize bottles, lids, and rings and keep them in hot water just before filling.

Click Here to visit the Pomona Universal Pectin  Home Page

I have now tested several "no sugar" Mayhaw Jelly recipes.  With a lot of research and five batches created with   the most  popular non-sugar "sweetners' and all thrown away, I have decided that there are  no good no sugar Mayhaw recipes in my opinion.



I avoid the use of aluminum pots with most foods. This is because I have observed aluminum pots becoming very shiny inside after processing tomatoes or high acid fruit. This is caused by aluminum leeching out of the pot . Somehow I do not feel that would be a healthy thing.

Once again remember that everything on this web page is my personal opinion.




This is one branch of a Jujube tree that we  named Abbeville at the old place. The Jujube is a wonderful fruit that is unknown to many growers in the South. Also known as the Chinese Date, the jujube fruit , about the size of a small egg. We use the fruit to make a delicious syrup, then dehydrate the used fruit to make candied dates. These candied dates have a shelf life , in a zip lock bag , of over a year. The fruit is also eaten fresh from the tree when the color changes from green to mahogany. We also grew several other varieties. 


We have settled on the variety Li due to it's large size which makes it easier to dehydrate and process.

I continue to be amazed at the Li jujube that bears at a very young age and goes on to produce very large crops.


We have also planted the variety Jin but the spot is a little too wet and I will be raising the tree and putting it on a raised top soil bed about a foot high. Here with seventy inches rain a year the young tree is in danger of root rot. My trees were always supplied by the late Roger Meyer of Fountain Valley, CA


li Jujube  16 inches high with 20 fruit in it's 18th month in the ground. 

 The crop of the above tiny Li Jujube tree removed prematurely due to the danger of the limbs breaking.


A branch from the Li Jujube the third  year with the tree now at over eight feet tall.



Unloading the dehydrator with candied dates (Jujube). In the process we also end up with about two quarts of Jujube Syrup.




This is the Ison muscadine which is one of the results of a 50 year breeding program to improve the quality of the native muscadine by the Ison family of Brooks Georgia. We also grow Black Beauty, another of  their wonderful muscadine varieties here in our orchard.






We have grown figs for the past 30 years, 19 years at a previous location and 12 years here .  The Fig family are everywhere here in South Louisiana. Of all the varieties   Celeste is by far the most common and has always appeared to me the most cold tolerant. The Alma Fig also seems to be  cold tolerant . We  also grew five other varieties at our previous location and have found that the LSU Purple fruits very late in the year well after the others has stopped producing. This allows us to spread the harvest over several months. We eat the fruit fresh from the tree , make delicious preserves, and wonderful fig tarts. We had  added Improved Celeste and Hollier in the final years there.

  Twelve years ago, due to Hurricane Rita and the flood that it brought.  we moved to our current, and much smaller location,   We planted two Celeste, one Black Mission, one Alma , and an LSU Purple Fig which is my favorite of all the figs.  We are also growing the Italian Honey Fig (Lattarula) .  Over the two past years  we added Olympian and an local Fig supposedly brought from Italy by the Russo Family. We also are growing a fig labeled as LSU Gold, which seems to be Alma in fruit,  but has a habit not at all like the low growing Alma.

We find it hard to use all the figs we produce and always give some to friends.



 This is Champanel, my favorite grape for wine.. These grapes are very tart and well suited to making wine, and bear very heavy crops every year..



Here is some of the fruit from our Saijo tree. This young tree is twelve   years old now and had more than a hundred fruit in it's first year to produce fruit (at three years since planting) . This variety is dehydrated while still firm and when it is fully yellow. This makes a premium dried fruit with a remarkable sweet taste. 


We also grow Fuyu persimmon here in our orchard . Fuyu is a non astringent persimmon and is eaten fresh from the tree when it turns orange color and is still firm. These are considered by us to need no spraying here at our place.

 Blue Berries 

We have four adult (8 years old)   in the orchard. The large fruit crop from these bushes each year is hard to believe .




Leona Pear July 4, 2004

Southern Bartlett Pear is an unknown local variety named by my late  friend Larry Brown.

    I am presently  member of  Nafex , the North American Fruit Explorers which is a fine  amateur fruit growing organization. We grow many different fruits which we test for adaptability to our individual areas. We publish a quarterly publication called Pomona. I have included a link to Nafex on this page.



Citrus trees

When we bought the property, in December 2005. Mike Conlin, the previous owner had planted a Louisiana  Sweet orange in the spot where we put our new driveway. In the meantime Mr. Mike passed away after a battle with cancer. We carefully lifted the plant into a container and in November 2008 we  planted it in the yard. This year (2015) the tree is once again loaded with fruit   . We love our living memorial to Educator and Coach Mike Conlin

Mr. Mike is the variety Hamlin Sweet. This is the 2015 crop

Planted November  2008

Our favorite citrus is the Page Mandarin

2006 Planting

Old reliable Louisiana favorite

2006 planting

Washington Navel tree February 2014 Planting 

  Myer Lemon rooted from a cutting in  February 2014 and now planted in the orchard and producing our lemon pies.

Due to the very tender nature of the wonderful Meyer, our tree is a rooted cutting and  if lost to a cold event will return from the roots.

From Diana's Kitchen

Orange Jam

Recipe from the folks at Pomona Universal Pectin

Click here for their page.

This is our favorite Orange Jam and low sugar too.


Orange Jam is a low-sugar or low-honey cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. Feel free to use any type of oranges or a mixture of oranges – valencia, navel, cara cara, blood oranges, mandarins, tangerines, satsumas, mineolas. 

Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener. See below for where to buy.

Yield: 4 to 5 cups

Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Orange Jam Ingredients

4 cups pulpy juice (see below for options of how to prepare)
2 teaspoons calcium water
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup up to 1 cup honey or ¾ cup up to 2 cups sugar .  (We use 2 cups sugar)
3 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

Orange Jam Directions

1. Wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan; cover and heat to a low boil. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use.

2. Measure pulpy juice into sauce pan.

3. Add calcium water and lemon juice and mix well.

4. Measure sugar or room temperature honey into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into sweetener. Set aside.

5. Bring fruit mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sweetener mixture, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.

6. Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.

Options for Preparation of Pulpy Juice:

A. Use a citrus juicer that renders both juice and pulp, but holds back seeds and membranes.

B. Peel, section, remove seeds, cut off any especially fibrous membrane, and chop enough oranges to yield 4 cups of chopped orange. Put in a sauce pan with 1/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Measure out 4 cups of simmered orange mixture for making the jam.



The Southern Fruit Fellowship is another fine group of fruit growers primarily in the South  . They publish a quarterly newsletter with dues of $15.00 per year. To join write : Southern Fruit Fellowship c/o Rhetta Davis 2051 Evergreen Drive  Shreveport, LA 71118  


You can also click on the SFF page below to see the membership page


We are also growing and testing several strains of garlic and onions in our container and raised bed garden.


One of the many visitors to our numerous hibiscus plants 

We also grow many different flowering shrubs and trees here at home. Here are some of our favorites.

The rare Indian Pink 

The Daffodil of our old ancestors 

 Flowers of The Fuzzy Dutsia



The blooms of the beautiful Star Magnolia

These and many others make our days a little brighter here at home

Check out these Growers Links

Nafex Webpage

 NCGR Corvallis -

Oak Tree Orchard

The Matt Family Orchard



LSU Louisiana Home Orchard Link

My Southern Fruit Fellowship Page

My Nafex Pear Bulletin Board





e-mail Travis Callahan


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Page updated 1-1-18