So Summer is obviously on its way out. I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy the last several weeks of warm weather. Me? I’ve been trying to cram as many activities in as possible. We traveled a bit (back home to western North Dakota, again), went to the lakes several times, and did our best to eat the local parlors out of ice cream. And, my little boy started pre-school (deep breathe…). I confess, I was not particularly looking forward to this. But I survived. He survived. I’m happy to see him grow and experience new things, yet sad to watch time slip through my fingers. And I know this is just the first of many partings. Cherish every day.
With Fall rushing in, I raced to the Farmers’ Market to snatch up as many tomatoes as I could. I’ve spent the week canning whole tomatoes, salsa, sauce, and tomato jam (more on this unbelievable find soon). Then there’s this fantastic use: homemade tomato ketchup. If you have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, or you can get to the local markets to buy a bushel or two, you’ve got to give this a try. I made it for the first time this year, and am kicking myself for not having done so sooner.
First though, you need to know this tastes NOTHING like the mass-market store brands you’re used to. Full disclosure: I like Organic Heinz. I even like regular Heinz. They’re pretty good, and they have basically defined the flavor of ‘ketchup’ for everybody (sorry Hunt’s). I’d describe this as a thick, red, salty-sweet vinegar concoction. Simply put, there isn’t much complexity — no herbs, little actual tomato flavor. This homemade ketchup is very different. At first I had a difficult time wrapping my brain around it– I was wired to expect ‘ketchup’, and by that I mean Heinz. But this homemade version has fennel, ginger, garlic, basil, and tomatoes– lots of tomatoes. The layers of flavor are amazing– not just salt/sweet/vinegar. They’re fresh, interesting, and work together so well. Yes, it tops a burger nicely, but it really shines on a roast beef sandwich or with those homemade fries. And don’t forget to pair it with my homemade mustard recipes. Give them both a try.
The Recipe: Homemade Tomato Ketchup
(Makes about 1 pint)
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 bulb of fennel, trimmed and chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped
a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, and stalks chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cherry or plum tomatoes, halved, plus 1 pound canned plum tomatoes, chopped OR 2 pounds yellow, orange, or green tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar (Note: the next time I make this, I’m going to use a bit less. I would suggest decreasing by 1-2 tablespoons. Taste and adjust, though remember — the flavors really take time to develop in this particular recipe.)
Put all of the vegetables into a large, heavy bottomed, saucepan with the olive oil, ginger, chili pepper, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper.
Cook gently over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Stirring frequently. Add the canned tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.
Add the basil leaves, and blend with an immersion blender or food processor. Push it through a sieve to make it smooth. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on a medium-low heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to your desired consistency. Correct the seasonings at this point.
Spoon into sterilized bottles or jars, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the refrigerator. It should keep for about 6 months. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home cookbook
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