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Hawthorn Ketchup

VegetarianVeganDairy FreeGluten Free

A popular sauce among foragers and one of the best ways to use hawthorn berries. It has a rich, fruity, almost smoky flavour, along the lines of a barbecue sauce.

Makes : Approx 400ml
Prep : 1 hour
Cook : 45m
  • 500g hawthorn berries
  • 350ml cider vinegar
  • 350ml water
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or dried mixed herbs, or to taste (optional)


  1. 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.
  2. 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. (You can use the residue of skins and stones to make a flavoured liquor, see below).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


After you’ve sieved the cooked berries in step 2, you’ll be left with a mass of skins, stones and residual fruit pulp. You can make a flavoured liquor, excellent for use in marinades and stews, by boiling these up with 250ml cider vinegar and 250ml water, and any herbs and spices you fancy (do not add salt at this stage). Simmer for 10 minutes and pass through a sieve. Simmer the strained liquid to thicken to a light syrup, and season with salt to taste before bottling.

• A mouli is a hand-cranked food mill, which simultaneously purées and strains as you rotate the handle. It’s an excellent bit of kit for anyone intending to process large quantities of seeded fruit in the making of ketchups, jellies, cheeses, curds and the like. As well making short work of removing pips and fibrous matter, a mouli is much more effective at extracting every last drop of pulp than by spoon and sieve alone.


Recipe by Wild Food UK; photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK


12 comments for Hawthorn Ketchup

  1. Jill Ireland says:

    Please could you advise. I love making the hawthorn ketchup. It is however not thickening. Please could you suggest a thickening agent

    Many thanks

  2. Jill Ireland says:

    No problem. It thickens as it cooled

  3. Archie says:

    Hi there, I seem to have two varieties of hawthorn in the haul I picked earlier in the year and put in my freezer… upon googling I see that common hawthorn and midland hawthorn both grow in the UK. Are they both edible? The plan was to make some hawthorn ketchup.


    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Both are edible and will make great ketchup.

  4. Sam says:

    I’ve done one batch spicy and one smokey and they are delicious before being bottled! I also swapped out the sugar for honey. The liquor is also delicious (I made it spicy with fresh ginger, garlic, coriander, etc. I’m thinking maybe to make a third batch and try making the liquor twice

  5. Hazel says:

    Tried making a batch today, although there were so many maggots that I had to strain the liquid through a muslin, and therefore my ketchup is super thin. Are some crops of hawberries less maggotty than others/ are there any tips to avoid or deal with them?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I didn’t notice any maggots when I made it recently but I have to admit, I wasn’t looking for them.

    2. Linda B says:

      OMG I made this and never even thought to look for maggots. I’ll be making another jar this week so will have a poke around. The berries are small so the maggots must be too.

  6. Pippa Ensor says:

    Having real probems with maggots in the hawthorn berries in two different . Had one great batch but in Oct 2 batchs of berries I have picked are full of white maggots. Am I picking too late?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I don’t think so, I picked some at the weekend that were maggot free. It is just if the flies have visited the tree you are picking from.

  7. Sarah says:

    I’m just boiling mine for this recipe and yep there are maggots!!! I’ve spent hours harvesting and prepping them. Gutted!!!

  8. Suzi says:

    I’ve had a few tiny maggots and picked them out with a knife, sieved the pulp twice. I won’t be telling my kids. It’s nearing Halloween after all! The most protein rich ketchup they will have had all year.

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