Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home Made Tomato Ketchup

Last week I found myself with an abundance of pallid, winter tomatoes lurking in the back of the fridge (they arrive unbidden in our vegetable box each week). The tomatoes of summer - red, ripe and fragrant, are sacred objects and can be enjoyed with only the barest minimum of olive oil and black pepper to accompany them. Their winter counterparts however are cold and sharp and fail set my heart on fire. In an attempt to clear this backlog I tried my hand at making home made tomato ketchup. I'd never attempted a ketchup before so knew I'd need an expert to guide me. I turned to Pam the Jam, author of the River Cottage Preserves Handbook.

If you're a fan of jam (which I am) and get a giddy thrill out of turning gluts of plums, apples, pears and vegetables of all kind into fiery, spicy chutneys to set aside for Winter then I recommend this book to you.

I started by making a passata: First I cut the tomatoes in half and laid them out in a baking tray. I then sprinkled them with sliced onions, garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper before slowly roasting them until they were soft and the whole house smelt delicious. I then whizzed them up in a blender before forcing them through a sieve and bottling the resulting puree as per Pam's instructions. At this stage the passata can be left in the store cupboard for up to 12 months and dipped into for ketchup making, pasta sauces and the like.

The second stage was to make the ketchup itself....

I simmered the passata with cider vinegar, lemon juice, celery salt, mustard powder, ground ginger and ground cloves for 25 minutes before pouring into a sterilised jar. The ketchup smells delicate and delicious, completely different to the bright red sauce that we have come to know. I can't wait to try it this evening!

Pam recommends buying tomatoes in bulk when in season (in July and August) and making a year's worth of passata at once. I'd like to do a couple more mini batches before then so that I've mastered this preserve and then perhaps I'll add it to my preserving calendar.

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