Monday, May 23, 2011

Homemade Ketchup

Making your own ketchup is one of those homemaker stunts that seems impossibly hard core, kind of like making cheese.  But both of these processes are actually pretty easy -- with an edge to ketchup, because you can put it on the stove and forget it while it cooks down and you do something else. 

Ketchup is fundamentally spiced tomato sauce; that's all.  My recipe is adapted from the Everyday Cheapskate.  I've modified it to take out the corn syrup (who needs that?) and to reduce the water and therefore the cooking time. 


1 6-oz can tomato paste (go ahead and splurge on organic, because this is worth doing "right")
2 T white vinegar (you can use cider vinegar in a pinch, but don't omit, because this make it safe to can)
1 T brown sugar
1 t molasses
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/4 t allspice
1 t salt
1 can water (rinse out all the remaining tomato paste with this)

Combine ingredients in sauce pan.  Cook until desired consistency, which should take about 20 minutes for this amount.  If you desire a longer cook time to better blend the flavors, add more water at the beginning and cook down. 

Pour into glass jars and store in fridge.  It will keep for a few months, but don't let it languish for a year like you might do with store versions that contain preservatives.

If you choose to can it, double or triple the batch; or go even further and get the super-big cans of tomato paste to put up several jars.  (This batch makes just over a half pint.)  Can in half pint jars; if you are a single person household or a family that doesn't eat a lot of ketchup, consider canning in the half-cup jelly jars.  Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.  Cool and store.

The Analysis

Fast:  I cooked a double batch in about 25 minutes, exactly the amount of time it took me to frost and decorate a cake for a family party.  If you choose to can a batch, it will be a bit longer, but this is a great mid-winter canning project since it doesn't depend on fresh veggies.

Cheap:  Catch a sale on organic tomato paste, and this will be way cheaper than store ketchup.  Not to mention, you won't have to read the label to make sure there is no HFCS.

Good:  Mr. FC&G and I like the flavor of this much better than store-bought.  It is a bit deeper and more nuanced.  And, of course, I get serious homemaker cred for making my own ketchup!
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