The end of August and early September is the time of year here in the UK to collect the Haws, the berries of the Hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna) for many uses. Being packed full of natural pectin the berries act as a wonderful preserve and thickener for fruit leathers, a favourite of mine, but this week I made another fantastic product from them: Hawthorn Berry Ketchup! This condiment would be perfectly suited to the hippest restaurant, but it’s at home poured over a campfire cooked burger. And best of all…it’s super easy to make:
Hawthorn berries (Haws) 300g
Picked straight from the bush when the berries are lush dark red. Try one as you pick, it should taste apply-like and sweet (if a little bland). Too early they’ll have no flavour at all, too late and they’ll be mushy and over ripe.
Apple Cider Vinegar 120ml
Sugar 100g (I’ve used soft brown to give a rich molasses taste here, but granulated sugar works also) Add more to taste.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Smoked Paprika and Chilli Powder (optional)
Wash the Haws with cold water, some people suggest meticulously removing every stalk at this stage but I don’t bother. The stalks will get caught in the sieve later.
In a skillet place the Haws, water and the rest of the ingredients and bring up to a vigorous simmer.
After 10 minutes mash the berries in the skillet with a fork to help liberate the pulp from the stones.
Gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes
Pour the mixture through a wire sieve into a bowl, and spent a couple of minutes mashing the berries in the sieve to break them up. Really mash as much pulp through the sieve as you can leaving just the stones and stalks in the sieve with as little pulp as possible. Discard the stones and stalks.
With the thick liquid from the bowl now return to the skillet to simmer to the desired thickness, I opt for a bbq sauce style thickness.
Now simply pour into a clean jar and store in the fridge!
It really is as easy and quick as that!
I’d note here that if you’re unsure how to identify a Hawthorn bush it’s a very easy plant to get to grips with, get a field guide or check the Woodland Trust website.
Have a go! and let me know what you think, if you try any other spices or methods do comment below as I’m always up for sharing ideas and experimenting.