March 26, 2010

Cherry Ketchup

Opening day of the Portland Farmers Market was a beautiful, warm Spring day. When I came across the Cherry Country booth I thought about how nice it would be to have venison or some other game, then remembered that I have a dinner class coming up where I'll be serving lamb. Cherries are a classic sauce base for wild game, and older lamb sometimes has a hint of gaminess, so I thought I'd whip up a batch of cherry ketchup. I grabbed a 5.5-ounce bag of organic dried Bing cherries and headed for the kitchen.

Cherry Ketchup
5.5 oz./156 g dried Bing cherries
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
¼ teaspoon fleur de sel
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon crystalized ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch Togarashi pepper
½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼-½ cup water

Combine all the ingredients with ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cherries have softened and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes or so. Purée in a food processor, adding up to ¼ cup additional water, as needed. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight so the flavors can get well acquainted, then bring to room temperature before adjusting the seasoning. Serve at room temperature.


  1. I have a feeling that some of those ingredients would be hard for me to find in my city ... just one of the downfalls of living in a smaller city.

  2. There are some easy substitutions. Use light brown sugar instead of granulated sugar and molasses, sea salt or kosher salt instead of fleur de sel, powdered ginger instead of crystalized ginger, and cayenne pepper instead of Togarashi pepper. Use less salt and ginger. Adjust the pepper level to your particular level of preffered heat. Oh, and the type of dried cherries don't matter so much, they'll just make the ketchup taste a little different. If you use a sweet cherry like a Bing, the sugar level is okay. If you use a tart or sour cherry, like a Montmorency, you might want a bit more sugar. If you use fresh cherries instead of dried, you'll need about 1½ cups pitted cherries, and you won't need nearly as much water, if any; the dried cherries need to be rehydrated and fresh ones won't need that.

    See? You can do it!

  3. Dear Gareth - You have inspired me to fix jam!

    I have 2 left thumbs when it comes to things such as this - jams & chutneys & ketchup but I think under your tutelage I just might flourish :)

    I have been wanting to fix jam for days and have been dragging my feet. Seeing your ketchup recipe has inspired me to do it. Next stop - cherry ketchup. How wonderful it will be with venison or duck!

    Thank You

    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors