August 13, 2012

Homemade Ketchup

I like to cook, which I would assume you know from the fact that I take the time to blog about it.  I enjoy grilling, roasting, baking.  But I've never gotten around to what I consider to be one of the most impressive aspects of cooking:  making ingredients from scratch.

I mean, sure, I've made a vinaigrette when I didn't want to use the last clump of store bought dressing.  And I've made sauces as part of a larger recipe.  But I've never made homemade noodles, never made cheese or given life to dry mustard with my favorite beer.  Heck, I've never made beer.  Other than creating some salsas for a Cinco De Mayo party (whose lack of presence on this blog I may need to rectify,) I've left the artisan aspects of cooking to others.  That may have to change.

Despite my history of laziness (which some of you may have noticed during the month or so I didn't post here.....this time or the other time during the winter,) I have dipped my toes into the world of gardening the last two summers.  The first time around it was just tomatoes, and I didn't get many before my lassez-faire attitude towards watering killed my dreams of bounty.  This year, I fared a bit better, and while I killed my peas after only one harvest (and my jalapenos grew and grew without ever getting spicy,) I have been collecting zucchini and tomatoes all summer.  Enough tomatoes that when I went out and collected the most recent batch I looked at them and knew--they were ketchup.

So I looked at some recipes online.  I didn't have all of the stuff.  Or enough.  Or whatever.  I didn't mind though.  I just knew.  So I improvised.

For the record, I had 12 oz. of tomatoes, by the scale.  (So, yeah....these weren't "cherry" tomatoes, but they were little.  A combination of bright orange tiny tomatoes that were a bit more acidic, and red tomatoes with green zebra stripes that are as tasty as any tomato I've ever had.)  I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in my cast iron, medium heat.  Once it was ready, I added:

1/2 onion, chopped.
1/2 stalk of celery, chopped
2 t. sea salt
2 t. crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled
12 oz. tomatoes

Beautiful to the eye and the nose.
I drizzled another tablespoon of olive oil over the top, and that was that for quite some time.  I let it cook until the onions were well caramelized and the tomatoes began to break down.  Once everything was beginning to thicken in a great smelling paste, I scraped it all into my food processor and gave it a whirl along with:

1 10oz. can tomato puree
2 c water

 This mixture went back into the cast iron to simmer, for about thirty minutes; the ketchup should be reduced by half.  When it is done reducing, stir in 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup brown sugar.   That's it; you have ketchup.  It doesn't taste like Heinz, but I don't mean that as a complaint.  It is sweeter, spicier, and tangier than the stuff from the store,with no corn syrup or other additives.  This recipe makes about a quart of ketchup, so if you know how to can, good for you.  If not, (and I'm in the "not" crowd, unfortunately,) you'll just have to cook lots of burgers. 
These spicy Spanish chorizos were the perfect test.

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