Homemade Ketchup

Near my grade school in town, my Lapp grandparents had a tidy lawn, catalpa trees and spirea bushes in front of their house; a T-bar clothesline, vegetable garden, roses and a white fence in back. In the kitchen a fold-down ironing board hid on one wall, a pull-out under-counter breadboard added space, and windows all around the table let in plenty of eastern light. Summertime found canning kettles on the stove, jelly bags dripping purple juice and the grinder spitting out onions, peppers and tomatoes for chili sauce. The sauce with bits of vegetable, canned in pint jars, came out as ketchup later in the season when venison burgers sputtered on the patio grill waiting to fill soft steamed buns.

This homemade, less sweet and intensely flavored tomato condiment always kept me away from the Heinz variety. Throughout the years whenever I simmer a heap of late summer tomatoes into fragrant ketchup, my mind wanders back to the Lapp kitchen. Now I’m the grandmother. Although I haven’t yet convinced my grandchildren that homemade is better than Heinz, I’m working on it.

Ketchup came to us from the Far East when seafaring traders brought back a fermented fishy sauce that took different guises with the addition of sugar, vinegar and finally our New World tomatoes. Indian meals always include savory chutneys, Koreans serve kimchis, Germans use mustards and Americans are lost without ketchup. Next time a batch of late harvest tomatoes is about to get away from you, try some homemade ketchup and experience extraordinary flavor.

Homemade Ketchup

5 pounds fresh juicy tomatoes or 4 pounds plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons grated onion (use small holes on box grater or microplane)

l large clove garlic crushed

2 inches cinnamon stick (or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon)

10 whole cloves (or ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)

2 allspice berries (or ¼ teaspoon ground allspice)

pinch of crushed red chili or cayenne

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup each sugar and cider vinegar

1. Core and quarter tomatoes. Crush in large saucepan; bring to a simmer and cook until pulpy. Pass soft pulp through a food mill or colander. Discard skins and seeds. Measure 6–7 cups seedless tomato puree.

2. Bring the tomato puree to a simmer. Add the remaining ingredients. (Tie whole spices in a cheesecloth bag.)

3. Simmer slowly until reduced and thickened. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.

4. Ladle into warm, scalded jam jars and seal while hot or cool, cap and store in fridge. Makes 3–4 cups

Note: In winter make ketchup using one (strained) 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in tomato puree.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at Amazon.com    http://amzn.to/9lOnZv

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One Response to “Homemade Ketchup”

  1. James Reiss Says:

    Yum and double-yum! I’m the luckiest guy in Cuisine Land because I regularly get to savor Mary Jo’s homemade ketchup direct from her fabled kitchen.

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