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Damson Ketchup

Often used to make sweet preserves and puddings, Damsons also make a rather fine ketchup. It works particularly well with chips, on sandwiches and accompanying hard cheeses

Damson ketchup cooking in the pan, with the spice bag just visible
Damson ketchup cooking in the pan, with the spice bag just visible

You can easily confuse Damsons with Bullace, but either can be used for this recipe. In fact, you could use any type of plum if you wished

Recipe ingredients

2kg Damson

125g currants

250g finely chopped onions

670ml distilled white vinegar

28g sea salt

250g Demerara sugar

3-4 dried chillies

5g grated root ginger

5g allspice berries (whole)

1/2tbs mustard seeds

1/2tbs black peppercorns

2 whole garlic cloves peeled and scored


  1. Make a spice bag (you can use a coffee filter tied with string) and put in the chillies, garlic, allspice, mustard, ginger and peppercorns. Secure tightly and put to one side

  2. Clean damsons and remove stems place into a large pan and add enough water cover fill the pan by about 2 inches

  3. Bring to the boil and keep squishing down the fruit with a potato masher. Add extra water if the pan bottom begins to dry

  4. Once the stones have been well loosen from the fruit, pass the pulp through a sieve to remove the stones

  5. Transfer the stoneless fruit pulp to a heavy bottomed pan, along with the onions, currants, spice bag and half of the vinegar

  6. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes - do not cover the pan

  7. Remove the spice bag and puree the mixture

  8. Return the bag and add the sugar, salt and remainder of the vinegar

  9. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer slowly over a low heat for 2 hours - stir occasionally

  10. Prepare sterilised jars

  11. Bottle in sterilised jars, complete by canning and allow to cool

  12. Leave for at least two weeks - preferably a few months - before opening

If jars are sterilised and canned correctly, your ketchup should last for 1 year unopened, and 1 month opened and stored in a refrigerator.

Discover more wild edibles and recipes on a foraging course and read more about Damson here.

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!


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