Since hawthorn berries are still just about in season we wanted to share this incredible recipe.
Hawthorne is a native bush to the UK and is easy to spot and find once you know what you're looking for, you might well have seen it many times and not realised it';s edible, well not only is it edible but it's absolutely delicious, full of nutrients and it can easily be foraged.
Throughout history hawthorne has been used as both a herbal medicine, a food and an important hedgerow shrub. The berries are high in flavonoids that are believed to be heart healthy as well containing Vitamin C, various tannins and fruit sugars.
When choosing where to pick the berries avoid places that might be contaminated such as on the side of a busy road or where they might have intentionally or not sprayed with anything.
This recipe is simply made to be paired with roast pork, the rich, sweet, fruity tangy and slightly smoky sauce is an excellent accompaniment and well worth the effort.
500g hawthorn berries - hand picked and remove all bits of leaves and stalks
350ml apple cider vinegar
150g soft brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you like it, we also love a pinch of smoked paprika to add a rich smokiness.
Pick over the hawthorn berries, removing the stems and discarding any berries that are damaged, mouldy or shrivelled.
Rinse and drain them, then put them into a large pan with the water and vinegar and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 30 minutes or until the skins have split and the flesh of the berries is soft.
The laborious part of the recipe comes next: work the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a bowl, using a spoon to push as much pulp as you can through the mesh – or even better, use a mouli*. The more pulp you extract, the thicker and more flavoursome the ketchup will be.
Return the pulp to the rinsed pan. Add the sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and the cayenne or herbs (if using). Bring to the boil, stirring gently to ensure the sugar dissolves.
Reduce the heat and simmer the liquid to your preferred thickness – you’re aiming for a consistency similar to ketchup.
Depending on how much pulp you’ve managed to extract, this will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
Pour into sterilized bottles or jars, and leave for at least a month before eating – the flavour will deepen and grow richer.
Unopened, the ketchup should last for several months, but once opened store the bottle in the fridge.