Making this familiar store-cupboard favourite is easy, tasty and rewarding.
Brown sauce might not have an appetising name, but it remains one of Britain’s favourite condiments. No fry up is complete without it, a sausage sandwich simply doesn’t sing unless it's topped with a generous drizzle and a bacon butty is just sad with ketchup alone.
Sales have been dropping in the last few years, but that's all the more reason to resurrect this much-loved British classic by making your own.
What is brown sauce?
The classic recipe is thought to have been devised back in the 1800s, but now numerous variants abound. Tart, spicy and rich, its ingredients often include tomatoes, dates, molasses, dates, apples, tamarind and vinegar.
The most popular – and the original – is made by HP, which has over 70% of the market share in the UK. Their recipe was developed by Frederick Gibson Garton in the late nineteenth century, with the name HP Sauce following in 1895 when he heard that his condiment was being used in the Houses of Parliament (an image of which still adorns the bottle today). He later sold the brand and recipe for just £150.
Controversially, after Heinz bought HP Sauce in 2005, they secretly changed the recipe, reducing the salt content under pressure from government guidelines. Customers offended included Marco Pierre White, who sent a dish back at The Hansom Cab in London, believing it was off after the change to the sauce.
Why should you make your own?
For a fresher, brighter-tasting brown sauce without any additives, it's very easy to create your own. Brown sauce is quick to make and should keep in the fridge for up to a month.
The best brown sauce recipe
We prefer a fruity brown sauce with a brighter, less heavy flavour. Even HP recognized the potential for a fruitier version when they launched HP Fruity Sauce, but unlike theirs our recipe eschews orange and mango for classic ingredients.
We use a base of onion, tomatoes and sweet-and-sour Granny Smith apples. It's lifted by the rich notes of dates and treacle, and the sharpness of tamarind and vinegar.
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