Tuesday, October 6, 2009

the secret’s in the sauce…

housemade ketchup
my revised version of a recipe from the River Cottage Meat Book


6 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used a combination of red Roma plum, and 2 purple, 2 green and 2 yellow heirloom tomatoes to equal 6 pounds)

2 medium onions, sliced

1 poblano pepper, roasted stemmed, seeded, and finely diced

½ cup brown sugar or ½ Agave nectar (I used Agave nectar)

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup white wine or 2 tbsp cup of vodka

¼ teaspoon dry mustard (I used Coleman’s double superfine)

1 cinnamon stick

1 ½ teaspoons whole allspice

1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves

1 ½ teaspoons ground mace

1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds

1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

Kosher salt or celery salt to taste

I used all fresh spices for this batch of artisanal ketchup. I am lucky enough to live near a huge (and I mean huge) Polish-Arab-Hispanic market (a converted defuncted mega-mart). This market freshly packages their spices in small bags (3-4 ounces). The prices of the spices I needed was considerably less than their brand-name-brand brothers that have been sitting on the shelf of a mega-mart for possibly 2 years. I can honestly say the difference in taste in my final product was remarkable, (as were the savings).
I realize that you don’t all live near such a wonderful market, but you can order fresh spices over the internet. I highly recommend the freshest spices that you can bet your hands on…

Kitchen geek factoid #2 :
The reason that I use wine (or vodka) in this recipe is that the tomato has alcohol dissolvable flavors that we would miss without that ingredient. Tomatoes contain alcohol-soluble flavors that can only be delivered to your tasting mechanisms in the presence of alcohol.
Water cannot dissolve organic molecules, which is why oil and water do not mix. Alcohol is a flavor carrier. Along with oil and fat, alcohol is an organic molecule, and can mix with other organic molecules.


Put the roughly chopped tomatoes, onions, and poblano pepper into a large pot.
Over medium heat, cook until everything is soft.
I took about one hour.

Stir the mixture occasionally, so that the sugar in the tomatoes does not stick to the pot and burn.
Let the mixture cool and then pass it through a strainer.

I used my new Chinois, a gift from my sister.
(Merci beaucoup, chêre soeur…!)

Discard the solids in the strainer and put the strained liquids back into the pot.
Add the brown sugar, vinegar, wine and dry mustard.

Put the cinnamon stick, allspice, cloves, mace, celery seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic to a muslin bouquet garni bag and add it the pot.
Bring the mixture to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Reduce for about 1–2 hours.

Remember to taste often as you are stirring…!
You need to continually assess the flavors as the sauce reduces and remove the spice bag if it tastes like the ketchup is becoming to strong.
(My ketchup took about 1 hour and 40 minutes to slowly reduce. After about 40 minutes, I removed the spice bag as the taste of the cinnamon, clove, and allspice was apparent and I knew that they would get more concentrated as the sauce reduces of the next hour.)

When the mixture has reduced to what looks and tastes like a ketchup-y consistency, you are finished.
Then (and only then), season with Kosher salt to taste.

I let the ketchup cool on the counter, and then transferred it to several small tightly covered glass containers. This recipe yielded about 2 pints of ketchup and will last for about a 2 months in the refrigerator. But, I doubt I have to worry about its shelf-life, as I am already finding new ways to use this delicious housemade condiment.
The taste of my homemade ketchup was better than I imagined it would be, balanced, unctuous and frankly lip-smacking good. Best of all it is all natural, without high-fructose corn syrup and additives.
I hope that you will try this recipe and enjoy making and eating it as much as I have.
Making this ketchup was a revelation...I had no idea what I was missing.
I am buying more tomatoes at the farmers market tomorrow to make more.

This ketchup is not just for French fries...
the secret’s in the sauce…


A Brush with Color said...

I've never made my own ketchup--I'll bet that's divine. Yum!! Sounds fabulous, Terrie!

chez aurora said...

Mmmmmm....another great post dear Terrie ... and I have to say that the photos and your descriptions were literally mouthwateringly good! What a great usage of your tomato bounty and I'm sure that the flavor with all those delectable spices was incomparable. I love your factoids, especially the one about the alcohol/tomato connection. Brilliant work, my friend!
Bises à toi

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

I've been meaning to make ketchup for ages - and this recipe sounds like a winner! Beautifully photographed!

Culinary Cory said...

This sounds like a great challenge. I'm totally bookmarking this.

Anonymous said...

Your homemade ketchup sounds like a wonderful creation! I love all the spices that went in there, definitely a must try!

Mise En Place said...

Wow! That sounds amazing;y good :)
You always have the most interesting culinary creations!

Anonymous said...

Your ketchup sounds devine. As always you've managed to amaze me. I'm so glad you've explained why it's necessary to cook with alcohol.

Mille Bises!

Camera Crazy said...

Always my first reaction is "Oh my gosh" when I read your posts--your kitchen creativity knows no bounds! I can't even choose a favorite among those gorgeous photos because every one of them is remarkable. Although I'm not much of a ketchup girl, your version might just make a convert out of me! BTW--when we were in England some years ago we went to the Coleman mustard museum--a neat place.

MarathonVal said...

You were horseback riding this morning?!?!? What fun!! I'm jealous ;)

I love your ketchup recipe, I was excited to see your recipe. I hate nothing more than crappy, HFCS-laden ketchup!!

ZZblaine said...

What a fantastic idea and wonderful recipe! Bravo!

Peter said...

I like tomatoes in most forms, but I'm not a good friend of ketchup, which I knwow only in it's industrial form (Heinz...). If I was served your version, I'm convinced that I could be converted! :-)