One of the reasons why I grew so many tomatoes this year was because I wanted to make ketchup from scratch. My husband still raves about the ketchup that his grandma made when he was a kid. I've never had anything but the bottled stuff, but I was more than willing to give it a try.
I found an easy, small-batch recipe in the Canning special interest publication that Better Homes and Gardens published last year. (If BH&Gs publishes it again next summer, be sure to pick up a copy. It's got a ton of terrific canning recipes.)
I tried out the recipe last year and loved it. So as soon as I had ripe tomatoes this summer, I tried out the recipe again. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying close enough attention when the tomatoes were simmering down, and I ended up burning my first batch of the year!
I didn't have enough time (or tomatoes) to make another batch right away. But now that all the green tomatoes I picked from last month's freeze are ripe, I gave the ketchup recipe another whirl. I was very, very careful not to burn it this time. It took forever, but I ended up with a beautiful batch of ketchup!
Now if you're making ketchup at home, keep in mind that it won't be as thick as the ketchup you get from the bottle. My husband said he remembers that his grandma's ketchup was a a little runny. He would dip hot dogs in the ketchup. In fact, that's still the way he eats hot dogs -- instead of squeezing ketchup on top, he dips it like a French fry.
Here's the recipe I got from Better Homes and Gardens. Just remember, don't rush the "simmering" stage, even if it takes longer than the 2 hours called for in the recipe.
- 8 pounds tomatoes
- 1/2 C. chopped onion
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 C. sugar
- 1 C. white vinegar
- 1-1/2 inches stick cinnamon, broken
- 1-1/2 tsp. whole cloves
- 1 tsp. celery seeds
- 1 Tbl. salt
Wash tomatoes. Remove stem ends and cores. Cut tomatoes into quarters. In a stainless steel pot, combine tomatoes, onion and cayenne pepper. Bring to boiling, stirring often; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 mintues, stirring often.
Press tomato mixture through a food mill. Discard seeds and skins. Return tomato mixture to same pot. Add sugar. Use a ruler to measure the depth of the mixture; make a note of the depth. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until mixture is reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, cinnamon, cloves and celery seeds. Bring to boiling. Remove from heat. Strain vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve into tomato mixture; discard spices. Add salt. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes more or until ketchup is desired consistency; stirring often.
Ladle hot ketchup into hot, sterilized half-pint containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 15 mintues (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wired racks.