Sunday, 30 September 2007

Canning Tomato Ketchup or Catsup

Homemade ketchup or catsup is a very different animal than the stuff that comes in a plastic squeeze bottle. It's richer and spicier, and much less sweet; at least mine is. It's even more work than salsa, as it requires a lot of cooking even though I use the same technique of salting and straining to remove a lot of liquid and keep the cooking time down to a manageable level.

Chopping garlic and shallots for ketchupAs with the salsa, the tomatoes are blanched, peeled, chopped, salted and strained. Then the remaining vegetables are prepared.

Start by heating all the chopped ingredientsThe ingredients are roughly puréed, then cooked until soft.

When the ketchup has cooked for a little bit, it is then strainedAt that point, the purée is ladled out of the first pot and strained through a food mill into a second pot, in order to produce a smoother texture and remove most of the seeds.

Straining the ketchupUsing the food mill to strain the purée. The seeds and any tough bits get discarded.

Why I don't make ketchup every yearAnd here's why I don't make ketchup every year. It's not just the long cooking, it's the mess. It needs to be cooked down, and as it gets thick it starts to splatter! It's a good idea to wear oven mitts and a good heavy apron towards the end of the process.

4 or 5 500ml jars
8 to 12 hours - 3 to 3 1/2 hours working time

8 quarts roma tomatoes
pickling salt
3 red shepherd peppers or other mild red peppers
2 cups peeled minced shallots
1 head garlic
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup Sucanat
1 tablespoon celery seed
4 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon hot Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons allspice berries

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the tomatoes by dropping them in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. You will need to do them in batches. Transfer the tomatoes to a sink or tub filled with cold water.

Peel the tomatoes, and chop them coarsely. If you can remove many of the seeds while you do this, so much the better. Layer the tomatoes in a large strainer - such as comes in a set for cooking spaghetti - with the salt. I try to use about 4 tablespoons, but a bit more is okay. Much of it will run out with the water. Let the tomatoes drain for several hours to overnight, in a cool spot (but not in the fridge.) Don't forget to keep them a little raised from the bottom of whatever pot you strain them into, so they are not sitting in their own water. Ideally, do this the night before you plan to proceed.

Meanwhile, deseed and mince the peppers. Peel and mince the shallots and garlic. Put them in the preserving kettle with 1 cup of the vinegar. Add the drained tomatoes when you have strained them for as long as you can stand. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Press the mixture through a fairly fine food mill. Discard any seeds and skins that will not go through. You will likely need to stop and clean the mill once or twice during the process. Return the pulp to the stove, and add the remaining vinegar, and the Sucanat.

Grind the celery seed to a powder, and mix it into the ketchup with the two paprikas and the ginger. The peppercorns and allspice should be tied up in cheesecloth, or put in a very large tea-ball and added to the ketchup. Boil the ketchup, stirring frequently, until considerably reduced in volume and very thick. Expect this to take about 2 hours.

About 45 minutes before you expect the ketchup to be thick enough to bottle, put the canning jars into a large canner with water to cover them by one inch at least, and bring to a boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. If your water is very hard, add a shot of vinegar to the water to prevent lime build-up on the jars.

When the ketchup is thick, test it and adjust the salt and seasonings if necessary. Remove the black peppercorns and allspice, and discard them.

Fill the jars with the ketchup to within 1 cm of the rims. Seal with lids and rims which have been boiled for 5 minutes. Return the jars of ketchup to the boiling water bath and boil for 10 minutes.

Remove them from the canner, allow to cool, check the seals, label and store. Keep in the fridge once opened.


Peter M said...

Ferdzy, good to see you back and eating local, of course!

Kevin said...

Home made ketchup sounds tasty but it looks like it takes a lot of effort to make.

Black Camel Studio said...

A good way to avoid the mess when cooking down the ketchup is to let cook in the crock pot/slow cooker overnight with a spice bag. Works great!

Kristina Strain said...

Not sure if you'll even see this comment, but one way to cut down on mess is to use a bigger pot. I made a giant batch of ketchup in my three-gallon pot last year, and the sides of the pot caught most of the splatters.