Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade Ketchup

Low-sodium and yummy!
When I first mentioned to some friends that I was trying out ketchup recipes, I frequently got this response:  "huh?!?  Why?"
First off, because the stuff you buy at the store is generally loaded with salt (160mg in a Tbsp of Heinz...and I don't know about you but a Tablespoon is not a serving for me...).  And the no-salt added ketchups have a chemical salt substitute, which just weirds me out.  Plus, ketchup tends to be loaded with high-fructose corn syrup.  That is not on my list of things to worry about because I just don't eat enough packaged food for it to be a concern, but I feel like I should mention that for those of you who don't have funky dietary restrictions

Also?  This stuff is awesome.  I actually find I prefer it to store-bought ketchup.  I love the red bell pepper flavor in it. 

It is very easy to make, and it keeps well in the freezer.  I put it into wide-mouth pint jars and only keep one jar in the fridge.  We spoon it out onto our plates, though I could of course find a nice glass bottle or reuse a squeeze bottle if I wanted. 

As a quick side note - I highly recommend this ketchup with falafel.  Bean was insistent on having something to dip his falafel in one night when we had no ranch we offered him ketchup and all ended up enjoying it!

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

3/4 c. cider vinegar
2TBSP Pickling Spice (available with the spices at the grocery store, or you could make your own - I haven't yet done a cost comparison, and the bottled variety has zero sodium)
2TBSP neutral oil - I use vegetable (because it's cheap.  And oils confuse me...)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly rhopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TBSP tomato paste
6 c. chopped ripe tomato (about 3 pounds.  I use cans, including the juice)
1/4 c. brown sugar


Pickling spice and cider vinegar.
1.  In a small pot, bring the cider vinegar and pickling spice to a boil and then turn off the heat.  Let the spices steep while you prepare the vegetables (at least 45 minutes).

Lots of veggies!
2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat while you prep and add the bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft (about 10 minutes). 

3.  Stir in the tomato paste until evenly distributed, then add the tomato and stir well.  Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (about 45 minutes).  Be careful not to let the tomato stick to the bottom and burn.

4. Strain the spiced vinegar (I do it through a hand strainer straight into the tomato mixture) and stir into the tomato mixture with the brown sugar.  Cook until just a little thinner than bottled ketchup (about 45 minutes).
5.  Remove from heat.  Use an immersion blender to puree the ketchup in the pot (or you can pass it through a foodmill, or let it cool and then use a food processor or blend in batches).
6.  Cool, and store in glass jars in the fridge and/or freezer.

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