Ketchup (And Fries, Of Course)
I miss tomato season! It looks like my stash of canned salsa will last through the winter, but I never did get around to making ketchup. This was a big disappointment, as I didn’t think I’d ever tried real ketchup and was eager to get a taste. I couldn’t wait until summer, so I developed a ketchup recipe with canned tomatoes for now. Come summer I’ll refresh it for fresh, whole tomatoes and expect to achieve even better results. Yes, there are tomatoes for sale in Boston through the winter, but they are nowhere near as good as canned tomatoes, which are picked and preserved during the harvest.
To achieve a very tomatoey-tasting ketchup that has an interesting but not aggressive flavor profile, I used:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp celery salt
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground mustard seeds
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground cinammon
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, depending on your heat tolerance
- 1 28 oz can tomato puree
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
The work to turn these ingredients into ketchup was no sweat at all. In fact, it’s not so terribly different from making normal tomato sauce. Here’s how I went about it:
- Heat oil in large pot until it hisses when you flick a drop of water on it.
- Sautee onion until translucent, then add garlic and sautee for another 30 seconds.
- Add all other ingredients EXCEPT tomatoe puree and tomato paste; whisk well and cook for another 1 minute.
- Add tomato puree and tomato paste, whisk well, bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes. You will know the ketchup is done when you can drag a spatula through it and leave a trench in your wake that the ketchup does not immediately rush in to fill.
- Immersion blend until all lumps have disappeared. This is important, as it can be a bit disconcerting to find an onion dice in your ketchup if you are used to the commercially manufactured stuff. If the ketchup is too thick, slowly add water and continue blending until you have achieved desired consistency.
- Fill mason jars with ketchup, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Use proper canning procedure to store at room temperature for months; otherwise, store in refrigerator.
This part was easy, but the sweet potato fries I used to test my ketchup (very hard work, this testing) were even easier. I cut a Jewel and a Garnett variety sweet potato* into standard fry-size pieces, drizzled them with about 3-4 tbsp olive oil, and then tossed them half with salt and pepper and half with this creole spice mix:
- 2 Tbsp celery salt
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper (or less)
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
These fries then went into the oven on a wire rack insert on a baking sheet. If you don’t have such an insert, turn them halfway through. We baked them for 30 minutes at 450 degrees, but be sure to keep an eye out to make sure they don’t burn.
*You’ll find these are usually labeled “yams” rather than “sweet potatoes,” but they are actually sweet potatoes. Harold McGee writes in On Food and Cooking, that sweet potatoes come in “many different varieties, ranging from dry and starchy varieties common in tropical regions, some pale and others reds or purple with anthocyanins, to the moist, sweet version, dark orange with beta carotene, that is popular in the United States and was confusingly named a ‘yam’ in 1930s marketing campaigns.” There is such a thing as a yam, but it’s an entirely different vegetable. McGee notes that true yams are “seldom seen in mainstream American markets, where ‘yam’ means a sugary orange sweet potato.”