Friday, September 9, 2016

Garden Fresh Cherry Tomato Ketchup

Ketchup. Who doesn't love ketchup?

I’ve been making ketchup for a little while – just over a year now – after several dismal attempts using canning tomato paste. I even assembled all the ingredients for a fermented ketchup by one of my favorite bloggers. Just never got around to making it.

I didn’t have success until I opened up five or six recipes and asked, “What do these have in common?” Spices, tart vinegar, touch of sweetness. Thirty pounds of fresh tomatoes.

I have a husband who is the master of cherry tomatoes. Seriously, half of our brand-new garden bed is a tangled jungle of beautiful red and gold orbs of tomato perfection. I take lots of pictures because their color and size amazes me.
Yellow cherry and pear tomatoes.

They’re awesome. He eats them by the bowlful as a snack.

Except…I cannot stand fresh raw tomatoes. Ever since I was a little girl, the taste, texture and scent of raw tomatoes is so distasteful to me that I have taken to proclaiming that tomatoes are evil and must be purified…into ketchup.

Ah-ha! Let the purification begin!

Homemade Cherry Tomato Ketchup

I created this recipe after reading up on various ketchups, their histories and the ingredients most commonly found in traditional ketchup recipes. I recently shared this creation with a good friend who found himself with several baskets of cherry tomatoes and a day home from work. Once it was done, he asked his little girl to try it.

Her response? “Wow!” she said. “It’s good. It tastes like ketchup.”

I’ll take that.

You can use this homemade ketchup anywhere you’d normally reach for a bottle of commercial ketchup. We use it on burgers and I’ve built on it for a quick barbecue sauce. One four-ounce jar goes into my homemade meatloaf. The nieces and nephews dunk french fries in it.

You will need a few kitchen tools for this beautiful creation:
  • Canning jars, either 4 ounce jelly or half-pint jars, plus new lids
  • Hot water bath canner
  • Pot for cooking. I use a Red Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 4.5-Quart
  • Mixing bowl or similarly-size pot
  • Wooden spoon, flexible spatula, potato masher
  • Food mill with a fine sieve or disk, I have an OXO Good Grips Food Mill
  • Sharp knife for cutting and chopping and cutting board
Homemade Red or Yellow Ketchup

This recipe can be doubled or tripled depending on amount of cherry tomatoes you, along with the size of your pot and how much time you have to dedicate to the slow reducing of the tomato sauce into paste.

  • 1 basket/quart of cherry tomatoes or small tomatoes. Can be all red, all yellow or a mix of both.
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (for red ketchup) or white/unrefined sugar (for yellow ketchup)
  •  ½ Tsp salt
  • Optional: 2 hot peppers for hot pepper ketchup or 1 small beet or a piece of beet about an inch in diameter (for a brighter red ketchup)
  • ¼ Tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ ground clove
  • ¼ ground allspice
  • Optional:  ¼ ground turmeric for the yellow ketchup

Red ketchup slowly reducing. 
You'll start by putting your canning jars into the dishwasher if you plan to store your ketchup for longer than a week in the refrigerator. Even if the jars are already washed, this helps to make sure everything is sparkling clean and as sterile as possible in the home kitchen. (If you’re looking for more information or tips on home canning, visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation.)

Wash the tomatoes (and peppers, if using these) with a food-safe vegetable wash and set aside. Peel onion and garlic.

Cut the onion into either 4 or 8 pieces, depending on size. Roughly mince garlic. Add both to the pot. If you are making the hot ketchup, seed and roughly chop your peppers and add to pot. If you are making bright red ketchup, peel the beet and cut into halves or quarters depending on the size. Add to the pot.

Slice your cherry tomatoes in half. Larger cherry tomatoes should be cut into quarters. Add to the pot. Gently press the tomato, onion and garlic mixture with a potato masher or the back of a spoon to release some of the tomato juice. Turn heat to medium.

Stir tomatoes, onion and garlic every few minutes as the mixture cooks. The tomatoes will continue to release their juices and begin to simmer in the pot.

When the tomatoes are cooked and soft, remove from heat. Using a food mill with its finest sieve or grinding plate, grind the tomato mixture in a waiting bowel. The tomato skins and seeds, along with the skins of the onion (and peppers) will remain in the food mill. Discard skins.

Pour the tomato sauce back into the pot. Add bay leaf. Gently simmer on medium low to reduce.  Be patient, you’re reducing the sauce to a paste. Stir frequently, using a rubber spatula to scrap the bottom and sides to prevent burning. Your goal is a beautiful, silky tomato paste.

Reduce to a paste that is a little bit thicker than you want for the ketchup. Once the paste can hold its shape on the spatula, add the vinegar, spices (add the turmeric only if you are making yellow ketchup), sugar and salt. A dash of additional hot powder could be added at this time if you’re making a spicy ketchup.

Simmer for about 5 minutes on very low. You’re giving it time for the flavors to meld. Taste the ketchup and make any additions in spice or vinegar it needs at this point.

Ladle your freshly made ketchup into 4oz or half-pint (8oz) canning jars. Wipe the rims and put a new canning lid on top. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.