making saucy haw ketchup

November 17, 2009 at 10:40 am 22 comments

Hawthorn trees are a common sight along the hedgerow in Britain but who would have thought that the haw berries would make such a delicious sauce.  I certainly wouldn’t have but fancied trying out Pam Corbin’s River Cottage Handbook recipe using the peppery little berries from the hawthorn tree on my plot.  I decided to make a small batch in case it wasn’t very tasty and adapted the recipe below using 350g of haws which filled two 110g jars.  It’s so simple to make and really appeals to my love of cooking with foraged ingredients.

making saucy haw ketchup
500g haws
300ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
170g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste

  • Strip the haws from the stalks and rinse in cold water.
  • Put the haws into a pan with the vinegar and 300ml water and simmer for about 30 minutes.  The skins will split revealing the firm yellow flesh.  Cook until soft and the berries have become a muted red-brown (I gave mine a helping hand with a potato masher).  Remove from the heat.
  • Rub the mixture through a sieve to remove the stones and the skins.  Return the fruity mixture to a cleaned out pan.  Add the sugar and heat gently, stirring until it dissolves.  Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into a sterilised bottle and seal with a vinegar proof cap.  Use within 12 months. Many of the preserve recipes from the River Cottage Handbook recommend serving with meat but Pam Corbin’s favourite accompaniment for haw ketchup is ‘a really good nut roast with a crisp green salad or drizzled over Welsh rarebit’.

My hawthorn tree always has some bird or other whistling from it’s branches and according to the RSPB hawthorn trees provide food for more than 150 insect varieties.  Blackbirds and other thrushes (including redwings and fieldfares), greenfinches, yellowhammers, chaffinches, starlings and many other birds relish the haws in autumn but it’s no surprise to me that there are still so many berries on my tree with thorns like this to protect it! So while the autumn sunshine is holding out stick a plastic bag in your coat pocket in case you spot some of these gorgeous blood red berries.  You’ve got a few more weeks to get gathering (maybe more in view of how mild it’s been) and if making ketchup doesn’t float your boat then you can always use them in a hedgerow jelly or make haw brandy.  And don’t worry about depriving the birds, they’ve got plenty of berries to feast on out of arms reach.

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22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mangocheeks  |  November 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I saw this recipe on another fellow bloggers blog and was intrigued. It does look very good.

    Reply
  • 2. Choclette  |  November 17, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Loved this post – aren’t hawthorns wonderful? What was the flavour actualy like? I’ve eaten the occasional haw raw, but they never seem to taste of much. They are meant to be extremely good for the heart though, so we have made a tincture out of them, but I think I much prefer using them your way.

    Reply
  • 3. Jenny  |  November 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I have to say this looks like a fun make! Hawthornes aren’t all that common in Australia though…..shame.

    Reply
  • 4. Ann  |  November 18, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I didn’t know you could actually eat hawthorn berries, think that is because my mum thought anything growing wild was poisonous and banned us from ever eating anything like that.

    Reply
  • 5. Nip it in the bud  |  November 18, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    MC – it’s nice to make something that doesn’t take lots of chopping and stirring

    Choclette – it’s a bit like sweet and sour in texture and a bit similar in taste but not as sickly. The berries give it a light peppery tang. I wouldn’t fancy the berries raw! I wanted to try the recipe for fruit leather using haw berries and artichoke hearts in the ‘Grow your own drugs’ book but the artichokes had gone over. I’ve planted some of my own for next year – it’s supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol.

    Jenny – thanks for popping by. Not having hawthorn thorn is no great shame but no hedgehogs, now that’s a different matter :o)

    Ann – neither did I. I remember trying them as a child and finding the yellow bit to be rather sour and would have had the same cautions from my mum as you.

    Reply
  • 6. Anne Maundrell  |  November 19, 2009 at 7:45 am

    That looks delicious, shame there are no hawtorns in Brunei either. I remember eating those off the bushes too as a child, I think I must have gone round trying everything!

    Reply
  • 7. Johanna  |  November 20, 2009 at 7:06 am

    I love the look of this – am curious that you call this ketchup as I would call it sauce – do you know why it is called ketchup – and love hearing about all the birds in your tree – is nice you can share your haws with them

    Reply
  • 8. Nip it in the bud  |  November 21, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Ann M – a curious child then ;o) you could probably try this method with all kinds of berry.

    Johanna – copying the name it has in the recipe book! Ketchup’s normally a tomato based condiment I think but I’ve also seen recipes for a mushroom sauce called ketchup. I cooked up some passata this week and strained off some liquid so I think I’m going to add it to the next batch of hawthorn ketchup to make it a bit thicker. Watch this space ;o)

    Reply
  • 9. Norm  |  November 23, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Fascinated to see this – I might give it a try! I love foraging, and I also have Pam Corbin’s excellent ‘Preserves’ book. I think it’s the book that I have cooked the most recipes from out of all my cookbooks. I have only ever used hawthorn berries in the Hedgerow Jelly recipe, and they’re really bland and mealy when eaten on their own… but I like your description of this ketchup.

    We live on a road that runs parallel to a disused canal (the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union) so have plenty of rosehips, crab apples and hawthorns very close at hand!

    Reply
    • 10. Nip it in the bud  |  November 24, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      what a fabulous place to live – I love the story about finding chestnuts along the side of the road. Bike rides are brilliant for spotting things to forage. The ketchup is definitely worth a try and I’ve made it again this week adding some passata (losely based on Pam’s roasted tamato sauce) – funnily enough not sure it’s as nice as using just the haws on their own.
      thanks for stopping by Norm, I’ll pop over to yours next time ;o)

      Reply
  • 11. theordinarycook  |  November 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    This looks really good and I have always wondered if you could do something with haws. I love the River Cottage handbooks they really are very useful, we have the vegetable gardening and the preserves handbooks and they have already been used quite a bit.

    Reply
    • 12. Nip it in the bud  |  November 25, 2009 at 9:38 pm

      they’re such a lovely size for flicking through too (and no achy wrists from keeping the pages open like some of my bigger books). I read today that Haws are good for the heart – who’d have thought?

      Reply
  • 13. hillwards  |  September 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Hi, This looks great. I too hadn’t realised that haws were edible untiI I came across something online this week. We have a lovely laden tree at the end of our garden so I may have to try your recipe too!

    Reply
    • 14. Nip it in the bud  |  September 25, 2010 at 6:50 am

      the trees are laden this year so I too shall be making this again. Enjoy

      Reply
  • 15. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes  |  November 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I opened my bottle of Pam the Jam’s Pontack sauce the other week, having dutifully kept it for a year. I love the recipes in that book, which reminds me I meant to write up the other picallili recipe for you and I haven’t done it yet… slapped wrists…. I have thought about the hawthorn ketchup but haven’t made any yet and I only ever see crab apples on the sides of dual carriageways. Anyone know where there are any unwanted crab apples in Bristol? I’d love to trade some jam or plum sauce… Keep on foraging away – maybe one day we’ll bump heads in a hedgerow somewhere :)

    Reply
  • 16. Nip it in the bud  |  November 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I loved to compare picalilli notes (I made a Branston type version).
    Just made a third batch for Christmas pressies :o)
    Good luck finding great foraging sites in Bristol

    Reply
  • 17. Utilising the Hedgerow | from Groupon's UK Blog  |  August 31, 2011 at 9:19 am

    [...] are really abundant this year and are extremely versatile.  You can use them in jellies, to make spicy ketchup and hawthorn berry syrup is said to be beneficial to the heart and lower anxiety.If you’re [...]

    Reply
  • 18. David  |  September 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Hi can you freeze Haws?

    Reply
    • 19. Nip it in the bud  |  September 5, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Hi David, I don’t know of any reason why you can’t in fact for some preserving freezing the fruit is recommended as you get more juice from them that way.

      Reply
  • 20. alison hoyte  |  April 23, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I have just made the hawthorn ketchup and highly recommend it. It is a culinary treat and tastes slightly plummy. I add it to casseroles and really nice with venison cutlets, just sear the cutlets and add to a slow cooker, add in prunes, cranberries,mushrooms and a packet of beef and red wine sachet mix ie Continental or Maggie.Substitute red wine part of mix for 1 cup of water and add 4 tablespoons of Hawthorn ketchup. Cook for 8 hours and is fantastic, so tender and flavoursome.

    Reply
    • 21. Nip it in the bud  |  April 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

      so pleased you liked it.
      We’ve just cut back our tree as with a little one now we decided it might be a bit of a hazard with it’s sharp thorns (G and I have both suffered the pain of thorns cutting through boots to stab us).
      I shall savour our last bottle of haw ketchup or else add haws to my list for foraging

      Reply
  • 22. Rescued by an angel! | Jo and Roger's Sabbatical  |  November 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

    […] with local Herefordshire foods (particularly apples and quinces and also foraged haws to make Spicy Haw Ketchup) and doing various crafts.  The sabbatical has been good for us in that we’ve found time to […]

    Reply

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