Last week we made ketchup. Why, when the basic bottle of Heinz tastes so familiar? Three reasons. First, we ran out and needed a replacement. Second, we had garden tomatoes from last year to finish, as this year’s are beginning to ripen. And third, we continue to choose less processed foods when reasonable to do.
This seemed reasonable.
We had three sandwich-sized freezer bags with tomatoes left over. When those were thawed, the excess liquid was drained off. Here is the basic recipe.
Chop fine one medium onion and saute in vegetable oil until soft. Add a clove of chopped garlic and continue on heat. Add the tomatoes. (Ours were processed for the freezer, skins and most of the seeds removed, and in big chunks. In addition we added about 10 frozen oven-roasted tomatoes to deepen the flavor. These had skin on, which was pulled out as they softened and began to cook down.)
Add about 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a sprinkle each of cayenne, allspice, and clove. Remember a little can go a long way. Better to start with not much of each of these, especially the clove and cayenne. Add a bay leaf and salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until thickened, about an hour. Remove the bay leaf.
Let cool and then process in the blender until smooth. We have a food processor, not a blender, and our ketchup is still textural. We like it that way.
Caution: this doesn’t have all the preservatives and chemicals that store-bought brands have. Though there is salt, sugar, and acid — all natural preservatives — don’t assume this will last like store-bought. The recipe on which this is based suggested a refrigerator life of about 3 weeks.
The flavor is more complex than Heinz. The clove and cayenne add layers you don’t get from the store. We’ve enjoyed it on fried potatoes and are looking forward to something meatier, like meatloaf or hamburgers.