RECIPE: Brown Sauce 

Tried and tested seasonal recipes from our country cookery school kitchen.  Complete with hacks and ‘get ahead’ tips for EVERY cook. 

A Great British Classic

A hearty dollop of brown sauce will complete an English breakfast. For the ultimate balance of sweetness and acidity, this homemade classic  will cut through salty pork and fried bread.  Serve with a lazy Sunday brunch alongside a free-range, fried egg for the occasional treat. 

Or, spread liberally on a slice of fresh sourdough.  Top with corned beef and pickles for a tasty lunch.  Our recipe is inspired by revered food writer Marguerite Patten’s version of ketchup.  We have adapted her method to include dates and treacle creating a new-style classic. Make a batch of this traditional accompaniment to fill your store cupboard or to gift.  

Makes approx.

30 servings


Breakfast or brunch


Prepare 25 mins


Cook 45 mins


Total 1 hr 10 mins



  • 2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 450 ml cider vinegar
  • 450 g pitted dates – chopped
  • 250 g chopped shallots
  • 350 g chopped and peeled Bramley apples
  • 300 g granulated cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoons black treacle
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper & finely ground sea salt


Measure the vinegar into a small saucepan and add the spices.

Bring the vinegar to the boil and then remove from heat.

Infuse the vinegar with the spices for at least an hour, but ideally overnight.

Next day, in a heavy based preserving pan or deep sided casserole, add the chopped shallots, apple, chopped dates, paprika and half of the spiced vinegar.

Replace lid at a slight angle.  Cook slowly over a low heat until the apple is pulpy, the shallots and dates are soft.   The vinegar will have reduced.

Check the pan regularly to make sure that it doesn’t catch.  Add more vinegar if necessary and reduce heat to lowest setting.

Add the remaining vinegar, chopped dates, sugar, tomato puree and treacle to the pan.

Return to a high heat until the vinegar begins to boil.

Reduce the heat and replace the lid.  Cook very slowly until the mixture is soft and pulpy.

Taste and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Liquidise to create a soft puree.  Pass through a sieve if you prefer a fine consistency.

Pour into a sterilised Kilner jar or bottles.  Seal tightly.

Store in a cool dark place.  Once open store in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Cooks Tip

Read more *preserving notes and kitchen hacks how to sterilise jars in our recipe blog. 

Brown Sauce can also be used to add flavour to gravies and casseroles.

Or try adding it to fresh grated ginger, crushed garlic and soy to marinade beef or pork.

The Origin of Brown Sauce

Derived from an Indian recipe by a Nottingham grocer, brown sauce was invented in the 1890’s.  The original brand was registered in 1895 as ‘H.P. Sauce’.  The name was inspired by the Houses of Parliament.  The sauce being a popular choice in one of the restaurants. The same grocer also created a similar product called Daddies Sauce.

A classic British condiment, by 2005 HP was the most popular brown sauce in the UK, accounting for nearly 75% of the market.

Notes for AGA cooks

To cook in the AGA, infuse the vinegar in the simmering oven for 30 minutes.

Leave to cool and continue to steep overnight.

Bring half the vinegar and the prepared apple, shallots and dates to the boil.  Replace the lid and transfer the pan to simmering oven.  

Transfer the pan to the simmering plate.  Add remaining ingredients, return to the boil.   Transfer to simmering oven and follow steps above.

More about All Hallows' Farmhouse

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