Italian Food and Flavours

Pontack: Elderberry sauce



Last week we published an elderberry cordial recipe. Pontac is something even more exciting, a dark fruit, sour and spicy sauce that is a magical ingredient to winter hot pots stews and soups. They say it will keep for years but it works well after a few months in the cupboard. Add to slow roasts and casseroles it works wonders for cheaper cuts of meat like brisket, belly pork and liver. it also works wonders in gravies, particularly for game birds such as pheasant.




  • 500g elderberries
  • 500ml cider vinegar
  • 6 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tbs peppercorns
  • mace or nutmeg
  • 2cm sliced ginger
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 allspice berries




Put the elderberries with the vinegar in a pan and place over a very low heat, when just below boiling turn off the heat and keep covered in a warm place for 4/5 hours or overnight if possible. Alternatively put the berries and vinegar in an ovenware dish and put in the lowest oven setting for the same length of time, the idea is to steep rather than cook the berries.

strain through a sieve and put in a pan with the remaining ingredients., bring to a simmer and cook for 20 mins or so. Strain again and pup back in the clean pan. Boil to reduce for 5 mins to get a thicker sauce, it should coat the back of a spoon. Cool and pour into a sterilised bottle and cap airtight. store in a dark cool place.