Making Pontack Sauce (Elderberry Ketchup)

Making Pontack Sauce (Elderberry Ketchup)

Pontack Sauce, aka Elderberry Ketchup, is a traditional English condiment.  What I love about this sauce is that it doesn’t have any added sugar, it keeps forever, and has a nice tangy flavor reminiscent of Worcestershire Sauce– but with berries. It’s fairly simple to make, and goes really well with game meats!




  • Using a fork, strip the berries from their stems.  The stems are slightly toxic, so do your best to remove as much as possible.
  • Put the berries in a dutch oven or glass casserole dish with a lid.  Add the vinegar, and bake in the oven for 4-6 hours at 325º.  The smell is really pleasant– more yeasty than vinegar-y, and of course nice and fruity.
  • Strain the berries out with a sieve, pressing to get all of the juice.  Some preparations make use of a blender here, which will yield a thicker sauce.  But I just pressed the berries a bit for their juice. Return the juice to your dutch oven or to a sauce pan.
  • Add the shallots and spices to the elderberry juice, and bring to a boil over medium heat on the stove.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 25 minutes.  Strain out the shallots and spices, and bring to the boil again, for five minutes.
  • Bottle your sauce into sterilized glass vessels.  I think that these swing-top bottles are really perfect, but you can also use mason jars.
  • Give it time to mature.  Right after it’s done, the shallot flavor is quite sharp, and this will mellow and the sauce improves over time– years, even.  This is shelf-stable for many, many years, so take your time.