Tomato Ketchup

You will need a stainless-steel pan, large enough for all the ingredients. Tie the peppercorns, allspice, and cloves in cheesecloth.  This ketchup will improve with age.

Sometimes it seems as though the site has grown an attitude. “Won’t update me, eh?  Well guess what you jerk, I won’t let you update at all! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!”

For the past week I’ve been trying to nail down a php error that has been giving me blank pages while trying to login, edit pages or simply refreshing pages.  Only last night was  I able to whip things into shape, so I’m going to go ahead and get something up while I have a chance.  Even worse is the fact that I’d announced on my Facebook page that I planned on updating days ago only to be made a liar by my own website.  That’ll teach me to open my fat mouth.

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Regardless, I’m here and I’m writing about the process for making ketchup.  That’s all that really matters. I’d like to take a minute to point out how looney it might seem to be making ketchup when grabbing a cheap bottle at the store takes only a fraction of time with fairly consistent results. I say “looney” because that what I literally—yes, literally and not figuratively—was called by more than one person when they asked what recipe I was working on next.

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Aside from a large stainless-steel pan I also needed a lot of tomatoes, a bunch of apples, an amount of sugar capable of giving someone type two diabetes, and more than enough malt vinegar for 173 orders of fish and chips.  Not pictured was half a dozen onions because I forgot to pick them up and had to go back to the store shortly afterwards. Sigh.

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Once I’d picked up the onions my lovely wife and I started on prep for making ketchup. While I began roughly chopping the Roma tomatoes…

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… my wife peeled and cored all of the apples we needed.

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Fifteen minutes later we’d chopped the onions, apples and tomatoes roughly. I love it when the recipe calls for a rough chop. My OCD gets set aside and I just get the job done rather than stressing over exact cuts.

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Everything—and I mean everything, vinegar, spices and sugar—went into the only stainless-steel pot I had that was large enough to hold it all. I can’t imagine how big a pan would have to be to hold all of these ingredients.  Because I had run out of cheesecloth on a previous recipe all of the spices were free to roam carelessly through the other ingredients in the pot.  It wasn’t ideal to say the least but I knew everything would work out down the line.  You’ll see.

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After two hours of simmering the apples, onions and tomatoes had softened to the point of disintegration. Everything in the pot went through a sieve to ensure that there was a constant texture to end product and by doing so it also happened to remove all of the spices that should have been wrapped in cheesecloth.  Given the chance I highly recommend using the spice bag method but if you’re making a bunch of ketchup with no cheesecloth you’re not completely out of luck.

There is something that I should mention that’s not in the book:  There was an excessive amount of liquid that needed to be removed from the apple-onion-tomato slurry before it could be called ketchup.  As I ran the mixture through a sieve over 2.5 liters or a little above a half gallon of water was leftover. I kept it all just incase I would have needed it to thin out the ketchup, but that was’t the case in the end.  If anything, I could have removed more moisture to improve the texture of the ketchup.

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The ketchup was boiled one more time to remove the rest of the excess moisture and to improve the texture.  I poured everything into my second largest plastic food container to let the condiment “find its feet” over the next few days as Mr. Henderson suggests.

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Soon thereafter my wife and I invited some friends over for an evening of fish and chips, drinks, and Cards Against Humanity.  While the ketchup wasn’t the star of the show by any stretch of the imagination, it didn’t stand out like a sore thumb, either.  The flavor was ever so slightly sweeter but with a spicier undertone than normal ketchup that made it much more interesting than anything you could find in a plastic bottle one could purchase at your local megamart.  Otherwise it was ketchup.  Hand-made, delicious ketchup.  I can’t wait to can it and hand it out to my friends and family.  Aside from the looney comments I know they’ll appreciate the effort that went into this condiment.

One down, thirty one to go.