It has been a great summer for tomatoes. Last year was awful. I only had the small cherry types. This year they are everywhere, big heirlooms, new roma types, all colors of cherry tomatoes, hybrids that actually taste good. I’ve canned about 12 quarts of quartered tomatoes but the thing I have really wanted to do since last summer, is to make ketchup. I never buy regular ketchup, it just seems like the total opposite of what I am about; high fructose corn syrup, highly processed, coming from who knows where. There are probably organic versions out there, but it just did not seem worth it. But every now and then someone eats with us who asks for ketchup and I have none to offer. Well, now I do. I can also put it on my purple hull peas and dry beans like my daddy did. It is not hard to do; it just takes a really long time and a lot of stirring. The tomatoes, bell peppers and onions came from the local farmer’s market. The lone jalapeno came from my garden. After finishing my batch, I read on the internet about someone who used a crockpot with the lid off, to do the long slow cooking. I think I will try that next time. The recipe I used was from Well Preserved by Mary Anne Dragan. I made a few changes, but not much.
Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup
For Spice Bag, gather: 2 cinnamon sticks, broken; 1 tsp whole cloves; 1 tsp whole allspice; 2 Tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp celery seed. Tie all up in a cheesecloth bag.
10 lbs Roma type tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 red jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds (this was my addition)
The cooked tomatoes in the food mill.
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
Quarter tomatoes and put them and peppers and onions in large pot. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes. Let cool some. I actually put mine in jars in the refrigerator at this point and went to bed. It was late. The next afternoon, I put all the veggies through the food mill into the heavy enameled dutch oven. You could go for the crock pot at this point. Add the brown sugar, salt and vinegar, put the spice bag into the pot and cook. The recipe says 1 hour, but I must have had mine at a much lower temperature than they did. I cooked it for at least 5 hours. I did not want to have to stand over it constantly to keep it from scorching. When it as thick as you like it, take out the spice bag, spoon into half pint jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. I got 7 half pints. The recipe says 6.
Spice bag in place.
The ketchup is delicious, much better than anything out of a bottle. I may actually come to like ketchup.
The lids have popped.