Traditional tomato ketchup

A traditional tomato ketchup with brown sugar, cinnamon and celery seed.

The weather has warmed up again after a cold snap early in September, and more of our tomatoes are ripening. But since each bucket could be the last, the decision about what to make with the tomatoes seems heavier. What if I make a pasta sauce and then later regret not having tomatoes to make curry? Clearly there are bigger problems in the world, but deciding what we will eat — or what we will have available to eat — in the next year weighs on me.

G. asked for tomato soup, so with our latest round of tomatoes, I made that. With a few pounds of tomatoes left, I decided to try my hand at ketchup again. I found a lot of ketchup recipes last winter when I was studying at Kendall College. It seemed like it would be a waste not to try at least one of them this fall.

I opted for a small-batch recipe since I only had a few pounds of tomatoes leftover, and I wasn’t sure how scaling down some of the other recipes would go. And, I chose what seemed to be a fairly traditional recipe with cinnamon and celery seeds.  At least one of those two spices is present in all the other ketchup recipes I have.

Initially, I cut the cayenne pepper in half because I was worried it would be too hot for G. But with only 1/8 teaspoon, the ketchup tasted bland. When I added another 1/8, it had a nice kick.

I modified the original recipe with extra cinnamon and paprika, and I used brown sugar instead of white. I wish I could remember what book the original recipe came from, but I forgot to write it down when I photocopied the pages. It was very old-school, with other recipes for things like raisin-rhubarb relish and ketchup spelled as catsup.

One interesting tidbit I picked up from the new Tart and Sweet: You can use the homemade ketchup to make a quick cocktail sauce. Combine 1 cup ketchup with 3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and a couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

Tomato Catsup

5 pounds tomatoes, peeled and cored

2 medium onions, peeled and quartered

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 ½ teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

Place tomatoes and onion in food processor and puree. Add mixture to pot along with remaining ingredients.

Bring to boil and simmer until thick. This will take several hours. You’ll know it’s done when you place a dollop on a plate and no ring of water forms.

Also, you might want to puree it again with an immersion blender after the catsup has been cooking a while. This will give it a smoother texture.

If you want to can it, put it in half-pint jars with 1/4-inch head space and process in a rolling water bath for 20 minutes.

It will make 4 cups, or 4 half-pints.

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