My garden is now producing at least five pounds of tomatoes each week. It's great! When the first tomatoes arrived I'd simply slice them and eat them, put them on salads, make bruschetta, or toss them with some pasta. But now that they have arrived en masse it's time to cook them. First up this year - homemade ketchup. Homemade ketchup is so much better than store bought that once you've made it you'll crave more. It is one of the reasons I grow as many tomato plants as I can fit in my garden!
I've made this particular ketchup recipe for the past three or four years but this year is the first year the consistency came out right. In past years it has been watery and a bit pulpy but I've learned from my mistakes. The "tricks" to getting proper ketchup consistency are:
- Cut the tomatoes the evening before and let them drain overnight to release excess water.
- Use a food mill and process the cooked tomatoes a couple of times with an increasingly finer blade to get a completely smooth puree before you begin reducing it.
After doing this I not only got the right consistency but I got that consistency in exactly two hours - the time stated in the recipe. Of course now I have to make something to use the ketchup on - hmmm sounds like dinner tonight is sausages on the grill with oven baked French fries and homemade ketchup - yum!
Fresh Tomato Ketchup
- 5 lbs ripe red tomatoes, quartered
- 3 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 T black peppercorns
- 1 T mustard seeds
- 1 T allspice berries
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 2 tsp celery seeds
- 1 thin slice fresh ginger
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ c packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- Large pinch cayenne
Quarter tomatoes the evening before, place in strainer and allow to drain over night to release excess water.
Place tomatoes, onions, bell pepper and garlic in a large pot. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft about 30 minutes. Pass through a food mill 2 or 3 times starting with a course blade and working to the finest blade until you have a very smooth puree. Alternatively, puree in a blender until smooth and pass through a fine strainer into a large bowl.
Place peppercorns through bay leaves on a piece of cheesecloth and tie it up to form a bag. Add to tomato mixture along with brown sugar, paprika, vinegar, salt and cayenne. Simmer slowly stirring frequently until ketchup is very thick, at least 2 hours. Remove cheesecloth bag.