The hawthorn, or Crataegus Monogyna, is one of the latest fruiting shrubs of the year. They’re an important source of food for winter visiting birds such as redwings, fieldfares waxwings.
I’m sure they didn’t mind sharing just a few with us so we could make a couple of bottles of haw ketchup!
Some people are a bit wary of picking wild, red berries; they’re worried about whether they could be poisonous. I took a photo of the shrub to help with identification!
If you’re still unsure, here’s a close up of the berries and their leaves. The recipe we used is from Pam Corbin, aka ‘Pam the Jam’. She’s patron of The Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers, but she’s probably best known as a regular on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s TV programmes and penning the books on preserves and cakes from his River Cottage Handbook series.
- 500g/18oz haw berries
- 300ml/10½ floz cider vinegar
- 300ml/10½ fl oz water
- 170g/6oz granulated sugar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Wash a bottle with a vinegar-proof screw-top or stopper before putting them into an oven at 130°C/275°F/Gas mark 1. Alternatively, put both the bottle & screw-top/stopper in a large saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the bottle completely. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 15 minutes
- Rinse the berries in a large sieve or colander and remove any stalks and leaves
- Put them in a saucepan with the vinegar and water
- Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, by which time the berries will have turned a dull brown and their skins will have split to reveal their yellow flesh
- Tip into a sieve over a clean pan and rub the fruit through with a spoon, leaving the skins and pips behind
- Add the sugar to the purée in the pan and heat gently, stirring until it dissolves
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often to ensure it doesn't catch
- Funnel the hot sauce into the hot, clean bottle and seal straight away
This sauce improves with age, so you can leave it for a few weeks before opening. Use within a year and refrigerate once open