Next week we’re going to be talking all about canning, but I couldn’t resist getting a head start today with these gorgeous tomatoes and a fuss-free recipe for homemade ketchup.
If you have kids in your house, chances are ketchup is one of your most-used ingredients. And why not? Sweet and tangy, ketchup, like its originator the tomato, goes great on just about everything. These days the big-name ketchup makers have been paying attention to the organic and whole-food movements, and have started offering more natural versions of their product. That’s great, but if you’re like me, you might still want to control what goes into the food your child is obsessed with.
Luckily, ketchup is quite easy to make, especially if you employ a slow cooker. The most work comes from preparing the tomatoes, which can be done ahead of time if you’re like me and not quite as deft at coring and dicing. Ketchup is perfect for the slow cooker because it takes a long time to cook away the excess liquid. Cooking it low and slow, rather than quickly on the stove, will help bring out a depth of flavor that lets the summer tomatoes shine and makes ketchup even more delicious.
Tips and tricks
- Paste tomatoes, such as roma or San Marzano, are often recommended for recipes like tomato sauce and ketchup. I like to use a mix of heirloom and San Marzanos tomatoes for ultimate flavor. Keep in mind that heirloom or slicing tomatoes are more watery, and will take longer to cook down.
- Feel free to change up the spices, but don’t change the ratio of vinegar and tomatoes if you decide to preserve using a water-bath canner. Ph levels are an important part of keeping your preserved items safe. When in doubt, store in the fridge or freezer.
- Leaving the skins on the tomatoes will provide added texture, but if you want a smoother product, gently boil the whole tomatoes in water for about 30 seconds, then place in an ice-water bath. Remove skins once cooled.
- If you don’t have cheesecloth for the spice bundle, you can use an unbleached tea filter or metal tea ball.
Whether you call it ketchup or catsup, here’s how to make this indispensable condiment.
- 4 pounds tomatoes (paste or mixed variety)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon each: whole allspice, whole cloves, peppercorns, and celery seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- Remove tomato skins (if desired), core, and seeds, and chop tomatoes.
- Place tomatoes and onion in slow cooker and set to high. Cook approximately 1 hour, until tomatoes have started to break down and the juices are bubbling.
- Puree tomatoes using a stick blender or in batches with a blender. Return to slow cooker.
- Stir in vinegar, sugar, and salt.
- Place remaining spices on a square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen twine. Add to the mixture.
- Cook on low, with the lid removed, for approximately 8 hours. Pour into either prepared glass jars for canning, or freezer jars.
- Process in a water-bath canner for 15 minutes if canning. If freezing, let cool in freezer jars to room temperature before sealing and moving to freezer.
Have you tried making condiments at home? What’s your favorite?