I finally did it! I made ketchup from fresh tomatoes! I had wanted to try this last year, but didn’t get around to it, so I’ve had to wait until tomatoes reappeared at the farmer’s market this summer.
I can live without ketchup, but my kids like it, especially 13-year old Charlotte. She doesn’t want her peers to peg her as the kid with the weird mom who won’t buy ketchup because it comes in a plastic bottle and contains dubious ingredients. Now, she’ll be the kid with the weird mom who makes ketchup with fresh ingredients. (Sorry, Charlotte.)
- 6 pounds fresh tomatoes (I buy mine at the farmer’s market in a cloth produce bag)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I had a bunch of this in cardboard from several months ago, but I will buy it in bulk next time)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed (I bought this at Rainbow Grocery in bulk)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I had a little less than 1/2 cup, so I topped it off with coconut sugar—both bought in bulk)
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (okay, there is some packaging)
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar (ditto)
- other spices to taste
n.b. For the vinegar, you can also use kombucha that has brewed to the point of vinegar
A more grown-up version of this ketchup could include cayenne pepper, a little ginger, molasses for sweetener and balsamic vinegar. But I wanted this to taste similar to the ubiquitous Heinz, in the hopes that Charlotte will actually at least try it, so I stuck to the “safe” ingredients in the bullet list.
1. Cut tomatoes in half. Place in a covered pot over medium heat for ten minutes.
2. Insert the disk with the largest holes into the food mill. Place the food mill over a bowl and run tomatoes through it. I have to scrape the pulp off the bottom of mine occasionally or the disk clogs up. If you don’t want a vat of ketchup, set some of the tomato puree aside and use it for tomato sauce.
3. Mix the tomato puree with the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Simmer for an hour and a half, or until the mixture reduces by about a third.
4. That’s it! Transfer to jars. I did puree this a tiny bit with my hand blender, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If you don’t have a hand blender, I wouldn’t bother blending this.
As you can see from the above photo, the red color intensifies as the ketchup simmers. The flavor does also. This didn’t taste nearly as sweet when I first mixed the ingredients together as it did after cooking. So, go easy on the sugar!
I had hoped to can this, but I ran out of time. Besides, six pounds yielded five cups, a substantial amount, but perhaps not a break-the-kettle-out-and-transform-the-warmish-kitchen-into-the-first-circle-of-hell amount. I froze mine in small jars.
Speaking of preserving, I realized after I made this that I could also have tried fermenting ketchup. It would still involve a lot of cooking time though, as I would need to reduce the tomato puree to almost a paste and let it cool before adding whey, salt, sweetener and spices. But that would be a fun recipe to try. And I think it would keep longer too. Although this does contain vinegar, it will spoil eventually (I would guess in a few months), unlike the commercial stuff. Not that I’m slamming my homemade ketchup! It tastes really good, both sweet and sour. The consistency differs from Heinz too. It has the texture of, well, tomatoes.
But if Charlotte won’t eat this, I have a lot of perishable ketchup on my hands!