Cumberland Sauce

This is such an old fashioned and largely forgotten sauce made with red currant jelly, oranges and lemons and spiked with mustard and ginger.   No onions, which makes it a great sauce for people who can’t eat alliums who often find savoury sauces difficult.

My Mother loved this sauce. She used to serve it with roast gammon and mashed potatoes for her supper parties and it went down a storm   So she kept making it and making it until my Father felt forced to ask whether she could perhaps make a different meal when they next entertained!  She did but it was still a regular favourite and made many more appearances!

It is such a shame it has fallen out of fashion as it is a wonderful accompaniment to not only its classic pairing of gammon but to venison, sausages and lamb.  I like it with chicken too though that’s not tradional.

Obligingly you don’t have to wait for meat juices to make it which means no last minute rushing to prepare a gravy/sauce on a Sunday lunch for example.   In fact it keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge.  A real bonus let me tell you.  And of course it freezes beautifully.

For the history buffs amongst you, Cumberland Sauce, appeared first in cookery books in the late 19th century.  Some say it was named after the Duke of Cumberland who was the brother of George IV and others that it was invented in Cumbria.  Take your pick as to which you believe, but do try this sauce

BTW, if you are entertaining, people always seem intrigued and delighted by this sauce – which is no bad thing!


  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 tbsp red currant jelly
  • 4 tbsp port or red wine
  • 1 tsp dried mustard powder or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to season


  1. Take the skin (not the white pith) off the orange a lemon with a knife or vegetable peeler and cut into fine strips. If you have a zester tool use this instead
  2. Put strips in a small saucepan, cover generously with water and boil for 5 mins to remove the bitterness from the zest.
  3. Drain in sieve and put to one side
  4. Put the red currant jelly, port/wine into a pan and heat until melted together.   Juice the lemon and orange and add mustard and ginger.   Warm through whisking until you have a smooth, runny sauce.  Season to taste and add reserved peel.
  5. Pour into serving jug.  This sauce is normally served cold but I prefer it at room temperature.

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