Some preserves are easy, some are drastically cheaper than store-bought, and some are tastier than anything you can buy. Alas, homemade ketchup is none of these things.
So I can’t exactly explain why I make it every year.
I suppose I can ketchup because processing all the jars of regular sauce becomes boring. And when I’m in the midst of tomato madness, condensing a little puree with spices isn’t any extra trouble – it is, in fact, a welcome chance to do something different.
Last year I improved my ketchup method by cooking the sauce down in a slow cooker. This prevents the bottom from scorching and makes it easy to leave the house or do other chores during the lengthy, oh so lengthy, cooking period.
While ketchup doesn’t meet any of my traditional characteristics of a recommended preserve, HITK readers have ask for my recipe. Here it is:
Makes: approximately 5 pints
Time: 12 hours cooking, 30 minutes active
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 whole onion, diced
2 quarts tomato pulp (most easily made with a food strainer and sauce maker tool, or made by stewing tomatoes and running through a manual foodmill to remove skins and seeds.)
1 cup brown sugar or honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
sachet of whole aromatic spices (your choice of bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice berries, juniper berries, celery seeds – I use a little of each)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per pint
1. Heat a medium sized pot over low heat. Add olive oil and onions. Cook until translucent, approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add onions and remaining ingredients except for lemon juice to a slow cooker*. Turn slow cooker on high and allow to simmer for 3-4 hours.
3. Remove spice sachet and set aside. Puree mixture with an immersion blender.
4. Replace spice sachet and continue to cook for 3-4 hours. Taste (don’t burn your tongue!) and adjust salt, pepper, vinegar, or sugar as you see fit.
5. Continue cooking and tasting until tomato is of ketchup consistency. This may take an additional 3-4 hours.
6. Ladle hot ketchup into sterile jars with one half teaspoon lemon juice per pint. Wipe rims, place on two part lids, and process in a water bath for 35 minutes/pints, 40 minutes/quarts. Remove from water bath, cool, and store properly.
*Don’t have a slow cooker? Use a medium pot on low heat, uncovered, and stir frequently to be sure the bottom does not burn.
This post, with much respect for the A Prairie Home Companion, brought to you by the Ketchup Advisory Board.