Autumn is a fantastic season for foraging: hedgerows are full of berries, and, as long as you are confident in identifying edible fruits, you can make a variety of recipes.
Hawthorn berries make excellent jellies and sauces as they have a good pectin content, which helps set the liquid.
I would definitely recommend making hawthorn ketchup, it looks, smells and tastes similar to tomato but it has the added benefit of lowering cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.
This ketchup tastes great with fries, meats, noodles. If you add more Chinese five spice and more dates it will taste more like a hoisin sauce or a Chinese plum sauce.
500 gr hawthorn berries, stalks removed
300 gr whole apples, chopped (keep the peel and cores)
300 ml water
150 ml vinegar
100 gr pitted dried dates, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon sumac
Cook the hawthorn berries, apples, dates and onion in water and vinegar on a medium heat without boiling for at least 30 minutes. Peel the lemons with a potato peeler and juice them, adding the peel and juice to the pan. All the ingredients should be soft and start to disintegrate after 30 minutes.
Pass through a sieve, collecting as much sieved pulp as possible together with the liquid, and return to the pan on a low to medium heat, adding all the spices and seasoning (celery salt, five spice, mustard, paprika, sumac). Cook for a further 15 minutes until the liquid starts thickening.
Pour the ketchup into a sterilised glass bottle (was the bottle in hot water and leave it to dry in the oven). Rest the ketchup for at least two weeks in the fridge before using to allow the flavours to mature.
Picture credits: Paola Bassanese