Why on earth would anyone bother making their own ketchup?
That is the question that Jamie Oliver asks in the introduction to the recipe in his lovely book, Jamie At Home. He calls it a ‘treat’ to be able to offer guests ketchup that you have made, instead of the store-bought kind. He also mentions that you can make ketchup in different colours, depending on the kind of tomatoes you’ve got. And that the whole exercise is fun.
I was up for the task. My reasons for making my own ketchup are that I enjoy cooking and trying out different recipes, and that I found that I liked this ketchup better than the kind I might buy. If I bought ketchup. It’s not something I use a lot, but it does show up in recipes from time to time, so now I am prepared. This recipe makes ketchup that’s a lot less sweet than the usual commercial brand, which I appreciate. I don’t know that making ketchup is fun, but I am glad to have done it.
Here’s what happened.
Get the ingredients together. Lots of tomatoes and basil.
Fennel, ginger, celery, ground coriander, cloves, red chilies and red onion.
Use a scale to figure how many tomatoes are needed. I had so many, I doubled the recipe.
Then I chopped. A lot.
As I chopped, I added the ingredients to the saucepan.
Start with olive oil.
Then add sliced red onion.
Add the ginger.
And the celery.
Put the garlic in the pan.
In goes the fennel.
There are the red chilies.
When I bought basil at the Dufferin Grove Market, it was recommended that I didn’t put it in the refrigerator, but instead place it in a jar filled with water. This is supposed to stop it from turning black. Look what happened! The basil grew roots. And did not turn black.
Finally (for now), the spices.
After 15 minutes of cooking and occasional stirring, it looks like this.
Now it’s time to add the tomatoes and the water,
and to cook the mixture until it has reduced by half.
The basil goes in.
Everything is puréed with my immersion blender.
Then all of the tomato-y goodness is forced through a sieve. Twice!
Back into the saucepan and back onto the stove.
Simmer this until it becomes ketchup, then bottle it.
Admire your work. Be proud of your accomplishment.
Celebrate with fries.
You can find the recipe here:
Homemade Tomato Ketchup
makes about 500ml
1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 a fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound amazing cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 1 pound canned plum tomatoes, chopped or 2 pounds yellow, orange or green tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, chilli, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.
Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1-1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.
Add the basil leaves, then whiz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender and push it through a sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.
Spoon the ketchup through a sterilized funnel into sterilized bottles, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the fridge until needed – it should keep for six months. Great served with steak and chips.
* Sterilizing Jars
Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.
Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two-piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum-seal when processed.
To sterilize jars before filling with jams, pickles or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.
Use tongs when handling hot sterilized jars, to move them from boiling water. Be sure tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.
As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.
After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.