Recipes: Then and Now

Recipes from the past updated for today


Post #4 Ketchup

May 1, 2014

I have been making this ketchup for about 35 years. As a teenager I considered it a treasure to hoard. I didn’t want to share it with anyone. It really is that special. If all you know of ketchup, or catsup, is what comes in that plastic squeeze bottle from the supermarket, you are in for a treat. Make this once and you will likely hoard it yourself until you can make some more. It has onion and spices to give it loads of flavor.

Ketchup as a mass produced product has been around for quite some time, almost since the beginning of the canning industry as we know it. Yet there are many recipes for ketchup in old cookbooks. This tells me that our grandmothers still had a need for the homemade version. Probably because it is so superior to ‘store bought’. Or maybe she planted too many tomatoes in the garden and just could not let the bounty go to waste.

So, when the tomatoes in season and you have a plentiful supply, try making a batch of this treasure from the garden. If you didn’t put some plants in your own garden you will find tomatoes aplenty at the nearest farmers market. Or if you are really lucky you will have a friend who has been growing their own and has enough to share.

If you just don’t want to go to all the work, to say nothing of the time, the fresh tomatoes require, you can try my more ‘modern’ method using canned tomato products. I prefer Indiana grown ‘Red Gold’ Brand tomato products. I have not tried this with any other brand so I am unsure of the results if you use another. ‘Red Gold’ canned tomato juice will give you a very good finished product.

To use this ketchup to make a great cocktail sauce for shrimp, simply add horseradish to taste.

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

1 cup white vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves

1 3 inch stick of cinnamon, broken into chunks

1 teaspoon celery seed

10 to 12 pounds tomatoes (or 2 48 ounce cans tomato juice)

1 cup chopped onion

¼ teaspoon cayenne

4 teaspoons salt

1 cup sugar

In a small sauce pan combine the vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, and celery seed. Bring to a boil and set aside till needed. Chop the onion into ¼ inch dice and set aside. Wash tomatoes well, core and crush in the bottom of the kettle. Stir in the onion and cayenne. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for an hour or more to cook the onion thoroughly. Stir regularly to keep things cooking evenly. Put tomatoes through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin. (If using canned juice, pour through a sieve to remove any leftover onion.) Return to the kettle and bring back to a boil and simmer till reduced by half. It should be getting quite thick by now. Strain the vinegar and discard the spices. Stir the vinegar into the tomato mixture with the sugar and salt. Cook stirring pretty much constantly to prevent scorching for about fifteen more minutes. Ladle into hot canning jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Clean the rims of the jars to ensure a good seal. Adjust the lids and screw down the ring bands to seal and place jars in boiling water bath. Be sure the water covers the top of the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring water back to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove from boiling water and cool in a draft free area. Remove ring bands and label. Preserved this way your ketchup will keep for up to a year. Makes about 3 pints.