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Homemade Ketchup

Is your garden overgrowing with tomatoes? How about making your own tomato ketchup? My mom made ketchup every year, cooking the tomato mixture with a spice pouch for hours before canning it and putting it away, storing it in our  pantry storage unit until ready to use.
Even though I’d never thought I’d be making ketchup; with the abundance of tomatoes this year I wanted to try it. Results are amazing.  

Homemade Ketchup, great for canning (adapted from The Only Texas Cookbook (Lone Star guides))

10 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, washed, seeds removed and sliced
2 large red onions, peeled and quartered
2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered
2 medium large apples, peeled and thickly sliced

Apple Cider Vinegar Brine
1 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2tsp black peppercorn
1tsp whole allspice
5 cinnamon sticks
1tsp whole cloves
1tsp celery seeds
1/4tsp dry mustard or 1/4tsp dijon mustard
1/4tsp chili flakes
4tblpacked brown sugar
2-3 tbl granulated sugar
1 to 1 1/4tsp kosher salt

Cheese cloth
Fine Mesh strainer
blender, food processor

  • Make the sauce from 10 pounds of tomatoes. Everyone has a different way of doing this. If you are used to processing tomatoes raw, proceed how you feel the most comfortable Here is how I prepare my pure tomato sauce : Wash the tomatoes in cold water,  quarter them, remove blemishes if there are any. Put all the quartered tomatoes into a large, preferably stainless steel  pot. Cook them until they are falling apart and are very soft. Stirring occasionally. Process hot tomatoes in the blender and pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove skins and seeds. While you are blending tomatoes, process some tomatoes with red  peppers together and strain puree through a fine mesh strainer. Return puree to stainless steel pot that was rinsed.
  • Now puree onions and add them to tomato pepper puree. 
  • Add sliced apples to  tomato, pepper onion puree. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Decrease to low heat and cook on low heat , until mixture is reduced by 1/3 and has thickened. Remember stir occasionally.
  • While your puree is cooking, prepare vinegar brine: cut a few squares from the cheese cloth, layer them on top of each other so it is thick. Place spices(peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, celery seeds) in the middle of the square and then gather corners and sides up, tie it up really good with a cooking twine. Pour apple cider vinegar into a small sauce pan. Add the spice pouch. Bring vinegar to boil and let simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes. Stirring ocasionally.
  •  Pour about 3/4 of the brine into the thickened tomato mixture.Stir well. Attach spice pouch to the pot, so it is submerged in the tomato mixture. I secured the pouch with additional cooking twine, tying it to the  handle on the pot. Cook the tomato mixture with the pouch.  When you first  taste it don’t be alarmed, it will taste  nothing like ketchup at this moment. You need to let it cook for  a while before it starts to taste like anything.
  • At this point  add sugar, salt, mustard, and chili flakes. Stir well. While the mixture is cooking, you need to stir it occasionally. Don’t cover the pot. Taste, if needed adjust the flavors, by adding more spices, vinegar brine, more or less sugar, salt, mustard, etc. You can also add more plain vinegar if  you’d like.
  • Mixture will cook for a while, mine took few hours. It will  looks slightly curdled and thick once it is done. It should have ketchup consistency. Let the ketchup cool slightly and then process it in the food processor one more time, to smooth it out.
  • Now you are ready pour ketchup into sterile jars, leaving  about 1/2 inch  below the rim. Process in water bath, in boiling water for 20 minutes.
  • Store in the cool, dark spot.
  • Once opened store in the fridge.

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