One of the processed foods that does feature on our table is ketchup. If you look at the ingredients label of a reputable brand, there's not too much that makes me cringe in there.Then there's all the lycopene you get from processed tomatoes, which (anecdotally, at least) is supposed to be an anti-cancer agent. That's good enough for me, so ketchup makes it on to my own personal 'approved' list.
Still, the thought occurred to me that I could try and make my own. And fortuitously enough, the Husband returned from a night of back woods cooking with the scouts last week with nearly a kilo of tomatoes - the scouts apparently preferring to adorn their wood fire cooked pizza calzone with meat and cheese rather than anything as damningly healthy as a slice of tomato.
The oven was on for shepherd's pie last night anyway, so I halved the tomatoes, drizzled them with a tablespoon or so of rapeseed oil and some fresh thyme in a roasting tin and bunged them in to roast for an hour.
Once out of the oven, and cooled for half an hour, I pushed the roasted tomatoes through a seive and into a pan. Fortunately, tomato seeds rate highly on the chickens' list of favourite things to eat, so there won't be any waste there.
I had about 300ml of sauce after I'd mushed it through the sieve (pitiful really! The recipe I was loosely following in Veg Everyday called for 1 litre...), to which I added 4 tsp of red wine vinegar and 3 tsp of soft brown sugar along with a pinch of mace and a pinch of ground allspice and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. The ketchup results from then bubbling this down gently to reduce it by half, before adding salt and pepper. And really, this is where it all gets a bit silly. Generally, if something's going to be on the stove top for a long time, I like to be able to bob back and forwards to it, doing other things, rather than be continually stirring. This is pretty high maintenance in that you need to keep stirring to stop it catching. For about 30 minutes. An excessively long time to be tied to the cooker - unless it's for making lemon curd, for which I am always happy to make an exception.
|Check out the splatter|
I persisted though, and was rewarded with a pot - a whole 159g of pretty tasty tomato ketchup.
The proof of course is in the eating, so I served it up to my harshest critic, for breakfast this morning, with eggy bread.
|The all important finger test|
And the verdict?
"Mmmm, yummy Mummy"
But does it taste like ketchup?
"Well not exactly Mummy, but it's very good."
And she ate it all up.
So there you have it. Homemade ketchup, splatter and all. Tastes pretty good, and overall Pink ranked it her second favourite type of ketchup (she's a connoisseur, you know), which is praise indeed.
Would I make it again? Well, you need a lot of tomatoes to make a decent batch. You could store it, as jam, in sterilised jars/bottles too, so perhaps, if the greenhouse yields bounteously on the tomato front, I might be persuaded to. But the greenhouse has never yet yielded tomatoes in such quantities. And then there's the time. And the stirring and splattering. And you know, there's something very pleasing about squirting ketchup out of a plastic bottle...