Homemade Ketchup

I have been canning for many years now, and every canning season I like to add a few new recipes to my repertoire. Since my cold room is full of jams and pickles (and soon it will be time to do beets again) I decided to make something we use quite a bit of – homemade ketchup.

I grew up with ‘tomato sauce’ in South Africa, a slightly darker, redder, and saucier version of ketchup. It’s almost like ketchup and pasta sauce had a baby. Over the years I have gotten used to the fluorescent and sweet ketchup here in Canada, but I decided when I was making my own to try and make something more like the one I grew up with. It has a more grown up taste – more tomato, less preservatives and colour agents.

As this was my first attempt, it did not quite come out exactly like I wanted. I wrote down all my notes in my recipe, so that next year, and every time I make it, I can get closer to the yield I want. My batch is delicious, and will be perfect for the meatloaf, frikkadelle, and countless other things I make with it all year long. But here is how you can make your batch even better!

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Above are the Roma tomatoes I used. They are best for water-bath canning. Over the weekend we had company over that remarked  “wow you have a lot of tomatoes”… good thing they were’t here when I was doing apricots… now that was a lot of fruit…

Ingredients:

  • two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 2 TB mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 4.5 kg ripe tomatoes – Roma or plum
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers (TIP: I would use a little less next time, a little too much of a pepper background taste for me)
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 TB salt
  • TIP – I would consider adding a few red pepper flakes next time

Combine the tomatoes, onions and peppers in a large canning pot. Let simmer for about 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile make your spice bags (with first 5 ingredients) using cheesecloth or muslin bags. (First TIP – make 2 spice bags. Making only 1 crams everything together too much).

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After the 30 minutes, transfer hot contents (carefully) to a blender (or food mill, or food processor, or use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. Transfer back to pot.

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Add in the sugar, vinegar and salt. Stir.

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Throw in your spice bags.

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Let simmer for at least an hour (Next TIP – simmer for even longer, to get a more concentrated ketchup – I was worried about making it too thick so I made mine a little thin).

Keep stirring regularly. Prepare your jars. And clean ketchup splatter from your kitchen cupboards. And a cat. (I may have been enjoying a glass of sangria while making this).

To test your ketchup, use the same test as for jam – put some on a cold plate, drawing your finger through. It should not flow back together. And it should have the consistency of, well, ketchup.

Cooked down and ready, it will look like this:

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Process as per canning protocol. 15 minutes for 250 ml jars + altitude adjustment. Let sit for 5 minutes after turning burner off. Remove carefully.

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Let cool. Check for seals. Go to a garage sale and buy more jars. (I bought 2 boxes full for $4! The good old fashioned Gem jars too.)

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The colour is good, the taste is good, it is just a little runnier than I would like. I have already decided I will simmer it with some balsamic vinegar to use as a burger topping when we BBQ.

We had some the next morning for breakfast, it was really good with our eggs and European Wieners.

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This was a fun, relatively easy canning adventure, and I will not have to buy ketchup again for a long time. I am happy I now have jars of summers’ goodness for enjoying all year long, something homemade rather than a product full of colouring and preservatives.

I hope you will give canning ketchup a try!

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