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Hawthorn Ketchup 20/10/2013

Filed under: foraging — foraginglondon @ 14:00

The Hawthorn trees in our are are laden with ripe fruit and we managed to pick around 2kg in a few foraging trips.

After a successful attempt last year, we decided to make another batch of Hawthorn Ketchup. We followed a recipe by Pam Corbin, found in the Preserves: River cottage Handbook No.2 book and tweaked it a little to adjust the taste, as the Hawthorns were a little bitter in flavour.

It is worth noting that there is not much flesh on the Hawthorn fruit and in comparison to the amount of work put in, the quantity of ketchup is not huge, especially if you LOVE ketchup and also plan on giving it away as gifts. A way to increase your ketchup quantity and also reduce the amount of sugar you use is to add some crabapples or regular cooking apples if you can get your hands on some. I haven’t tried it in this recipe yet, but I will next time I make the ketchup and report back.

Hawthorn ketchup Recipe makes 1 x 300ml bottle
Original recipe by Pam Corbin, with my tweaks and additions


500gr haws

300ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar (I used our home made cider vinegar, which is quite mild so I added 1/3cup white, spiced vinegar)

Peel of one orange, fresh (optional)

1 small onion

170g sugar

1/2tsp salt

ground black pepper to taste



I didn’t bother stripping the haws from the stalks as the original recipe says, I just removed any thick ‘branch’ bits and leaves. Everything is pushed through a food mill anyway.

Put the Haws into a large pan and add the vinegar and the same amount of water (300ml).  If you are using apples to bulk up your quantities, add them now, cores, peel and all and add some more water. If you have and orange, peel it and just pop the peel into the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30min, until the haw’s skin has split and the flesh softens and turns from yellow to a muted red-brown. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, chop the onion into large chunks and fry in a little oil until soft and golden.

Push the cooked fruit through a sieve or pass through a food mill (remove the orange peel) to remove the stones and skins (and if using, apple cores and skin).

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Passing the cooked haws through the food mill

Returned the fruity mixture the a cleaned-out pan. Add the fried onion, sugar, salt and pepper and heat gently, stirring until dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 5min, then check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

At this point, because I didn’t remove the stalks and because some stones passed through the food mill, I poured the mixture into a high powered blender and processed it so it was nice and smooth. You can also use a hand-held blending stick to do that in the pan.

Pour into a sterilised bottle and tap the bottle gently on your work surface to remove any air bubbles. Seal with a vinegar proof cap. Use within 12 months.

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Autumn foraging and RHS talk 18/10/2013

October brought with it some beautiful clear days  which were just perfect for foraging late blackberries, Hawthorn and Rosehip.

October is also the end of harvest season and the Royal Horticultural Society invited Foraging London to speak at the RHS London Harvest Festival. At the festival, alongside the vegetable growing competition display (see images below) there was a ‘wild food’ area, where the RHS invited Yun Hider, Claudio Bincoletto and yours truly to display and talk about foraging.

In my 30min slot I explained how we came to foraging, what and where we forage and what we do with the fruit and herbs we forage. It was great to inspire people to look beyond the supermarket and explore their local parks for some food.

Here are some pictures from the festival:

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After the talks there was a ‘Late’ event. There was booze, folk music and a special performance by the London Vegetable Orchestra:

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The festival was an inspiring event and hopefully we will be invited back next year.


Sharing the knowledge at the RHS London Harvest Festival 07/10/2013

Exciting times are upon us. Foraging London has been invited to speak at the RHS London Harvest Festival, 8-9 October. Shira will be giving a 30min talk about urban foraging around 16:00 on both days. If you are around, come say hi.

There is also a ‘Late’ event on 8 October, with original cocktails and all things harvest.

Besides that, We have been out foraging, collecting late Blackberries and Hawthorn. It’s a bumper crop this year so why not go out and collect some where you are?  The Elderberry is coming to the end of it’s season but you may find some ripe, fruiting trees on Hampstead Heath and higher places in London.

The Rosehip and Sloe berries are looking beautiful too, but will be picked later in the month.

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Hawthorn Ketchup recipe coming soon.


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