Greengage Ketchup: It may not be green, but it is delicious.

This is a recipe from my book Perfect Preserves, one I love so much I make it every summer at about this time when greengages are in the shops for a few brief weeks. Home made ketchups are easy to make and delicious to eat. You can use a wide variety of fruits and spices and once you’ve got the hang of the basics you can craft your own sauce tailoring it to your tastes, adding or subtracting chillies, upping the spice or garlic and using different sugars or vinegars. Keep the ratios the same and you will be fine.
A couple of tips here It is much easier to take out the pips before you cook the ketchup, the second is that you can just as easily “bottle” this in sterilised jars as fancy ketchup bottles.
The recipe might look long but that is only as I’ve tried to cover every stage, it really is simple to make and well worth the effort.
I serve this ketchup with just about everything you might otherwise use tomato ketchup on: burgers, steak, bacon sandwiches the list is endless.
And finally if you’d like to make the ketchup but are short of time freeze the greengages ready to make it later.

The lovely, talented  Keiko Oikawa took this and all the other pictures in the book.

The ketchup has a light green colour and bright flavour. You can serve it with cold dishes especially pork and chicken or brush it onto meats on the barbecue basting them with the sauce about five minutes before they are done. I’ve also brushed it onto both vegetable and white fish kebabs, delicious.

When you are making any smooth sauce you will need to sieve it to remove any seeds, pips bits of spice etc. It is best to whiz the sauce in a blender or food processor before you do this to make the sieving easier so I find it saves time and mess to remove the stones from the greengages before I cook them.

Whilst it is more usual to see commercial ketchups packed in bottles I’m happy to use jars for mine. Bottles for ketchups and sauces are easily bought via mail order.

Chose unblemished fruit for this sauce if you want a good colour, bruised greengages go brown very quickly.If you want a milder sauce reduce the quantity of chilli, for a hotter one increase it.


1kg greengages

400gm onion prepared weight (about 2 Large onions)

150gm celery

60gms fresh ginger

40gms fresh garlic

40gms green chillies

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon cardamom pods

½  teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon black pepper corns

200mlwhite wine vinegar

200ml water

250gms white sugar200ml


1. Prepare the fruit: wash the greengages well to remove any dust, then cut them in half and remove and discard the stones. Place them in a heavy bottomed, acid resistant pan.
2. Chop the onions and the celery finely. The chop does not have to be even but you want them to be a small dice. Add to the pan.
3. Peel the ginger, I do this with the side of a teaspoon, crush and peel the garlic and take the stems from the chillies. Chop these roughly
4. Put the ginger, garlic and chilli into a small blender with 2 tablespoons of water and whizz until you have a paste. Scrape this into the pan.
5. Using a spice mill whiz the peppercorns, cardamom pods and celery seeds until fine. Alternatively crush them as finely as you can in a mortar and using a pestle. Scrape these into the pan
6. Pour on the vinegar and water, cover the pan and place on a low heat.
7. Cook the vegetable stirring often to start with until they are very soft about 30 minutes.
8. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minute, blending the hot mixture can be explosive.
9. Once the sauce has cooled spoon it into the blender and whiz until smooth. It may be necessary to do this in batches.
10. You now need to sieve the sauce to remove any unwanted lumps, skins etc. place a sieve over a glass bowl and using a wooden spoon rub the mixture through the sieve until you have a dry, fibrous residue left in the sieve. Discard this.
11. Place 6 or so spotlessly clean glass jars in the oven 100c200f gas mk 2
12. Return the sauce to the washed saucepan and add the sugar, stirring it in well.
13. Put the pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, there should be no grittiness left in the pan.
14. Simmer the ketchup over a medium heat until thick about 15 minutes stirring often. The sauce has a tendency to stick to the pan at this stage.
15. Once it is as thick as you wish, remembering that it will thicken on cooling, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
16. Stir once more then pot into the hot jars or bottles. Cover with screw on vinegar proof lids and leave to cool.
17. Once cold label the sauce and check the lids are tight.
18. Store in a cool dark place, you can use this sauce after a week but it continues to improve over a month.

This sauce keeps for 6 months makes 6 x 200ml


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