I say ketchup/You say catsup…Ready to call the whole thing off? You can end the debate with a special homemade version that’s sure to charm even the pickiest eater.
Ketchup is a favorite condiment for many kids; for some it might even be its own food group. (And once, it was controversially proposed to count as a “vegetable” for school lunches.) But one of the concerns about many store-bought brands of ketchup is the high-fructose corn syrup. If you’re turned off by the HCFS and any of the other ingredients you might find in your ketchup, there’s always one appealing end-of-summer option: Make your own. We did, and we were surprised to find it just about as simple as making a tomato sauce.
Having a bumper crop of home-grown tomatoes helps, of course (our cherry tomato plant has gone bonkers this year), but we added to our stock by picking fresh tomatoes at a farm near San Diego, Suzie’s Organic Farm. With these fresh tomatoes in hand, we set out to make a recipe that was easy, and not too spicy for kids’ palates. We liked this version from Serious Eats, but we modified it to use with fresh tomatoes rather than tomato puree.
Homemade Ketchup (adapted from Joshua Bousel on Serious Eats)
2 quarts (8 cups) fresh tomatoes
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 T. molasses
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. allspice
Dash of red pepper flakes
1. Wash the tomatoes and coarsely chop them; place them in a pot on the stove, and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes until they are cooked down. Strain the cooked tomatoes through a Foley food mill or a fine strainer. The result should be a smooth tomato-y paste.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the tomato mixture, brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, salt, and remaining spices. Stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and simmer on very low heat for an additional 1/2 hour.
3. Remove the ketchup from the stove and process it in a blender or food processor until smooth. If the texture is still lumpy (or if seeds remain), strain it one more time through a fine-mesh strainer. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of ketchup; enough for a large dinner party or several kid lunches.