Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Next Step Towards Total Food-Snobbery

Homemade ketchup! The thought came to me yesterday while I was showering (I get lots of thinking done in the bathroom--it's my only alone time anymore). It was Monday and we didn't have any plans--no school, no camp, no doctors. Our friends were coming for a mid-morning swim but the rest of the day was ours.  Perfect to do a bit of kitchen experimenting...hmm, what to make...how about--SPIDER ON THE CONDITIONER BOTTLE! So now I'm playing "Naked and Afraid--the Home Edition" in the shower with a spider!  Every few seconds, I'm checking on the spider to be sure he's not moving. Wet my hair...there is the spider...wash my hair...there is the spider...use a different conditioner...there is the spider...wash my face...Where. Is. The. Spider???? Now it's "Naked and Afraid--the Deluxe Home Edition!" Don't shave the legs, time to get out of the shower! The biggest child will just have to deal with my (her words) "porcupine porky thighs" when she sits on my lap.

Back to The Plan...When we planted our garden, we planted two kinds of tomatoes.  I was hopeful that if the children grew them, they might eat them.  Hubby eats tomatoes infrequently and I only like them cooked.  I also figured that if we grew enough, we'd be able to make some salsa or homemade sauce.  My business partner's father used to make homemade ketchup every summer before he passed away. Last year, she resurrected the tradition and brought me a quart of it.  When I suggested ketchup to the children, they were all over it.

First we picked the tomatoes and peppers from the garden (we already had about 10 little tomatoes on the counter getting ripe).  Next, I put sharp knives *gasp!* in the hands of my children (no worries, I have taught my children kitchen safety years ago). A moment later, I scooted the littlest away from the biggest...I had put a righty on the left side of a lefty, and the righty talks with her hands. Even if there is a sharp knife in them.

The children cut up all the tomatoes and the peppers.  I cut the onion (if you've read my book, you'll know it's from experience).

Then we put everything into the cups of my nutri-bullet.  The littlest was very excited to make ketchup smoothies!

We did it in batches, so some of the puree was greener than others because of the amount of peppers in the batch. Everything was very pink when mixed all together.  Not to fret, as the mixture cooks and reduces, it gets a beautiful brick red color.

We boiled the puree for about 30 minutes until it was reduced by half then we added garlic, vinegar, ground mustard, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt and honey, and forgot to take pictures. Then I turned the stove to low and checked on it every 10-15 minutes for about 2 hours.  It tasted great, but still had a kind of mealy texture so I ran the immersion blender through it for about 7 minutes.  It got glossy and thick.

I didn't set out to make paleo-ketchup, but it is paleo. No thickeners, no sugar, and a bonus of very little salt. One taste and the hubby said "throw out the Heinz!" So I feel like this is one more step in total food-snobbery. That's just great, (insert sarcasm here) I've ruined store-bought ketchup for my entire family!

We ate it on burgers and smiley face fries for dinner (and chicken and bratwurst...we did some cooking on the grill to stock up the freezer and you just gotta sample everything).

This jar won't last long--it was full before dinner. Next summer, more tomato plants! We already have plans for balsamic ketchup, roasted jalapeno ketchup and maybe something herbaceous like thyme and oregano...any other suggestions? I'll let you know how it goes with the next tomato harvest.

Homemade Ketchup using Fresh Tomatoes

12-15 tomatoes (I think we planted romas)
2 smallish green peppers (we actually planted red, but too impatient to let them ripen)
1/2 white onion
3/4 tsp ground mustard powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
small pinch cayenne pepper
generous pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey (more or less to taste)

Chop then blend tomatoes, peppers and onion in a blender and pour into saucepan.  Boil over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining ingredients.  Bring back to boil and turn to low, simmer on low for about 2 hours or more, until mixture is thickened.  If the mixture is "loose" or mealy after 2-3 hours, use an immersion blender to blend smooth.  Store in fridge or using proper canning methods to preserve.