Autumn Olive Ketchup

Dina Falconi’s excellent book Foraging and Feasting is a staple reference at my house. Her condiment recipes are familiar favorites—BBQ sauce, ketchup, chutneys, and more—with suggestions for wild-inspired variations. This is a recipe adapted from her section on ketchup. Yields 2½ pints.

3½ pounds autumn olives
½ cup olive oil
3 large onions (about 1¼ pounds), finely chopped (yielding about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon clove
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons ginger
2 tablespoons paprika
2–3 tablespoons sea salt, to taste
1½ cups organic apple cider vinegar
1½ cups maple syrup or Sucanat  

Purée the Fruit

Place the berries in a large skillet or Dutch oven with ½ cup water. Cook over medium heat until they soften a bit. Work them through a food mill or mesh strainer to separate out the seeds (save the seeds and add them to baked goods for an extra nutritional boost). Set purée aside.

Make the Ketchup

Wash and dry the pan you used to cook down the berries. Heat the oil on medium-low heat and slowly cook the onions until tender and lightly colored.

Add the spices, garlic, and salt, stirring them in well, and continue cooking and stirring for 2 more minutes.

Add the berry purée back to the pot, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Mix in the vinegar and sweetener and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered, frequently stirring, until thickened, about 50–60 minutes. (The ketchup will thicken more quickly if cooked in a wider rather than deeper cooking vessel, which facilitates evaporation.) Taste the ketchup and add more salt, if desired.

Pour hot ketchup into glass jars, cap with tightly fitting lids, and label. For a smoother consistency, purée the ketchup before bottling. To produce the silkiest texture, you can strain the puréed ketchup through a sieve.

Let cool, then store in the refrigerator for several months. The ketchup tastes delicious right away, but ages well in storage.

Note: During the entire cooking process, but especially toward the end, it is important to stir the ketchup frequently with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so the ketchup doesn’t stick or burn.