Monday, August 27
Heirloom Tomato Ketchup
We're brimming with heirloom tomatoes from our farm CSA box, but somehow none of my usual uses for tomatoes have seemed appealing lately. The tomatoes this year have been so good that they mostly beg to be eaten straight - sliced with a bit of sea salt and good olive oil, or layered into a caprese salad with basil and fresh mozzarella. But there are only so many fresh tomatoes we can eat, and I came home tonight to find a couple handsome heirlooms on the verge of decline. It seemed a good night to try and put together a real ketchup.
Commercial ketchup, like commercial mayonnaise, bears little resemblance to the real thing. Raised like everyone else on the supermarket formula consisting mostly of high-fructose corn syrup, tomato paste and celery powder, it never occurred to me that ketchup could be anything more than a fast food side. But a little breakfast joint on our old neighborhood happened to have a fantastic homemade variety, and I've been meaning to make a batch ever since.
This recipe lends itself well to experimentation - all of the spices can be adjusted to taste, and many others would be worth playing with. For a spicier sauce, add a few (or many) dashes of hot sauce. It also turns out a delightful golden orange color if you use a mix of different colored tomatoes.
-- Heirloom Tomato Ketchup
*2 tbs olive oil
*1 medium onion, finely diced
*1 red jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
*4 cloves garlic
*3 lbs assorted heirloom tomatoes, peeled and seeded
*1/3 cup + 3 tbs apple cider vinegar
*2 tbs dark brown sugar
*1 cup water
*1 tsp cardamom
*1 star anise
*1 tsp celery seed
*1/2 tsp cloves
*1 tsp cinnamon
*2 tsp smoked paprika
*1 tsp chili powder
*2 tsp salt
*freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a non-reactive sauce pan, sauté the onion and jalapeño in the olive oil until golden and very soft, about 20 minutes. When the pan starts to dry out, add 1/2 cup of the water. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in tomatoes, 1/3 cup vinegar, and the sugar.
2. Place the cardamom, star anise, celery seed, and cloves in a spice bag, or tie in a bit of cheesecloth, and add to the tomato mixture. Add the cinnamon, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt and stir well.
3. Cook the ketchup until thick but not completely dry, about 2-3 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste and transfer to a blender. Puree until very smooth. You may need to add the other 1/2 cup water if the ketchup is too thick. Pour in the additional 3 tbs vinegar (or to taste) and pulse to combine. Transfer to sterile jars and refrigerate, or process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Homemade ketchup should last about 2 months in the refrigerator.
Yields 2 small jars.