Homemade Tomato Ketchup

I don't even like ketchup.

Arctic-maxi tomatoes in various stages of ripeness. They weren't used in this recipe, but, damn if this isn't a fantastic picture.

Ketchup doesn’t come to mind as one of my favourite foods. But this is a fun recipe to make. I only make it because I have a shit ton of tomatoes to use up at the end of August. Besides: who makes their own ketchup?! Geeks. That’s who.

This is, naturally, inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home. I tried it last year with beautiful green zebra tomatoes, hoping to make a lovely pale green ketchup. Everything was fine until I added the brown sugar, then it turned, um, brown… Gravy brown, yeah, that’s what I’d call it. It tasted fine, different from the ketchup you’re used to. But that colour: ugh!

Last year's ketchup: Would you eat this? I did and it wasn't that bad

This year, I was determined to fix that colour. There were no Green Zebras at the garden center this year, but there were orange tomatoes. Good enough!

There’s a few things about this recipe: I haven’t quite nailed it. I used double the vinegar listed below, and thought it way too strong, so I’ve amended that. Note, however, that I can only make this once a year, so I won’t know for sure if this recipe is right until next year. That’s good, because by then I probably won’t have anything to write about.

I’ve also changed the brown sugar. I just need sweetness, thanks: white sugar only! Again, because of the vinegar, I had to jack up the sugar, so I really don’t know how much I put in. Two hundred grams is what the recipe called for, originally, so start with that. You can try to taste as it reduces, but the heat really masks flavours, I find.

One final note about spices: By all means, change the spices to taste. Cooking is supposed to be fun. If don’t have whole spices, cut the recipe in half for the bottled stuff.

The support team: onions, ginger, garlic, chili and spices Yellow and Orange tomatoes make orange ketchup.

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 chilli
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 thumb-sized ginger pieces, peeled
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • pepper, salt
  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes, preferably one colour, roughly chopped
  • Big handful of basil, with stalks
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 200g sugar

In a 4 quart sauté pan, sweat the onions with a glug of olive oil. Sweating the onions means a fry over low heat; the onions shouldn’t colour in pan, just get soft and sweet; it takes about 10 minutes. In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, add the fennel, coriander seeds and cloves and grind them up. Roughly chop the chilli, garlic and ginger, add them and the spices to the pan. Stir and cook for a couple minutes, until fragrant. Take the stalks from the basil, give them a rough chop and put them in. They take longer to cook than the leaves, but they’re full of flavour.

Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.

Take off the heat, stir in the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Scoop into a blender and blitz until pulpy. Don’t fill the jug past half full, or you’ll be cleaning orange ketchup off your ceiling. Do it in batches if you have to. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Add to a clean pan, add the vinegar and sugar, reduce on medium until ketchup-y.

To sterilize the bottles, boil some water in a pot. Place the bottles and lids and your funnel for 10 minutes. Let dry on a towel.

When your ketchup is ready, with the funnel, scoop the ketchup into the bottles. It will thicken more as it cools. Let it cool completely.

Heinz, it's not; but it's orange, not pooh brown, and tastes tomato-y.

Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

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