Make Your Own Ketchup
Welcome back to Marla’s Test Kitchens. As mentioned in my previous post about homemade mayonnaise, I am experimenting with making my own condiments. In this post I tell you about my adventures, and misadventures, in ketchup-making.
A recent news items about the H.J. Heinz Company modifying its ketchup recipe to reduce sodium levels spurred my interest in make-my-own-ketchup. Since it is my favorite brand of ketchup, and the recipe is changing, I thought I should have a back-up plan if we did not like the new recipe.
My criteria for make-it-yourself-stuff:
- Is the product I make better?
- Is it cheaper?
- Is it (relatively) fast?
For this project, I consulted with my friend, Lloyd, who used to make his own ketchup. Unfortunately, over the years, his recipe was lost, but we were able to find one he thought seemed similar. Featured were ripe tomatoes, green peppers, onions and habaneros peppers. We had a slight disagreement over the number of peppers. Lloyd “snacks” on habaneros peppers. I, on the other hand, would die if I pulled a stunt like that. As it happened, I could not find (really!) habaneros on my shopping excursion and substituted jalapenos.
As you might have guessed, this recipe involved a lot of chopping and dicing. It also required me to slip the skins off of the tomatoes after dipping them in boiling water. At this point, noticing that they were very mealy, I had to admit that making fresh ketchup in May was probably not good planning. Texture was also a problem for me. Even with the blender setting on “annihilate,” I could not get the ketchup smooth enough.
We tested this version of ketchup with hamburgers and French fries on the same day that I made it. How was it? Well, I have not included the recipe, if that gives you a hint. With stronger spices, we decided it could have made a decent barbeque sauce. Lloyd will probably tell me it is because I didn’t use habaneros, and he may be right. It was also not cheap, after purchasing all of that fresh produce.
Not willing to be labeled a quitter, I took to the Internet again. There seemed to be a bit of buzz about a particular recipe that looked really easy. It is, and it is included here with the permission of Susanne at Hillbilly Housewife. The beauty of it is that it uses tomato PASTE. That’s right, no chopping or dicing. It is a great, easy recipe:
We tested it twice and then my husband, a big vinegar-lover, made some tweaks to suit his preferences. Here is the “Vinegar-Lover’s” version:
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
¼ cup tap water
4 tablespoons white vinegar
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 pinch cloves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1. Is it better? My taste-test teams liked the tomato-paste versions, but were not unanimous. My daughter thought the homemade version would be better as a dipping sauce for foods like shrimp. However, the rest of us, hungry boyfriend included, liked it.
2. Is it cheaper? This depends on where you live. Susanne’s version cost her only fifty cents for twelve ounces. However, the cheapest can of tomato paste I could find was seventy-nine cents. That made my twelve-ounce batch cost more like a dollar. I would still consider this to be economical to make, especially if I could find a sale on tomato paste.
3. Is it fast? It took twenty minutes. It was very easy to put together.
Would I recommend you make your own? Sure, particularly if you are interested in controlling your ingredients. Susanne, the creator of the recipe, points out that you can easily change the sugar or sodium content, which is a very healthy way to go.
Do I need to take a break from eating French fries? Definitely.
Next post: Mustard!