HAWTHORN Berry Ketchup

The girls and I harvested a bumper crop of hawthorn berries last summer. They freeze easily and can be defrosted for later use if you do not have time to process them all at once. This ketchup is quite tart and acidic but has more “taste” due to all the spices. I like it better than store bought. It goes well on a vege burger or in meatless sloppy joe recipe.

Hawthorn Berry Ketchup

1/8 tsp of allspice finely ground powder

1/8 tsp of clove finely ground powder

1/8 tsp of powdered nutmeg

1/2 tsp of finely ground dried ginger

1/2 tsp of star anise ground in a coffee grinder

2 TBSP of chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp of salt

brown sugar or honey to taste

1/2 can of tomato paste

2 cups of apple cider vingegar

2 cups of water

4 cups of hawthorn berries processed (see below)

A note about processing hawthorn berries to get a nice pulp. Boil and then simmer the berries on low heat until they are soft. Remove from heat and then press the berries through a fine mesh sieve with a large wooden spoon. This will remove the 1-3 seeded “pits”. You may need to do small batches and press pretty hard to get all the pulp off of the seeds. This is probably why we don’t find this fruit in many recipes. The flesh is not soft like a wild plum and it has a bland almost sour taste. Don’t bother using a cherry pitter or knife to remove anything either.

After you have the pulp return it to a large stewpot and add in the above ingredients. You can vary the sweetness by the amount of honey or brown sugar added. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Place in a very clean bottle with a tight seal. Keep refrigerated and use within one year.


Hawthorn is a small tree/shrub (6-20 feet high) that one does not see often where I live. It must be cultivated and cared for to be attractive in an urban setting. The bark is ash colored and the wood quite hard. The leaves are small, shiny, dark green (on top) and have irregularly toothed lobes. Those grow on multiple branches (shooting in all angles) which have small but not terribly sharp thorns. It produces clusters of beautiful, tiny, showy, white flowers (5 petals) in the spring and bright red berries in late summer. The fruit is a favorite with wildlife. If your harvest is not timed right, the perfectly ripe berries can disappear off the tree over night. Ripe berries will be a darker shade of red ,close to that of a bing cherry.

Hawthorn likes to grow along streams and in meadows. You will often find it on older properties like farms, especially as a hedge. It will grow well in most climates.

Crataegus is best known for its effect on the heart. It normalizes blood pressure by regulating heart action/contraction. It strengthens the heart muscle/connective tissues and dilates blood vessels. Hawthorn can be used for either high or low blood pressure. Historically the berries have been used to treat myocarditis, arteriosclerosis, angina, congestive heart failure, heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, blood clots, high cholesterol, variscose veins, and Reynaud’s syndrome/poor circulation . A tea of the flowers or leaves may be helpful for stress, mild, pain/spasms, headache, diarrhea, indigestion, gout, altitude sickness, arthritis, joint injuries/slipped discs, tendonitis, hernias, and insomnia.

Contraindications-heart medications, acid reflux.

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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