Homemade tomato ketchup has a fresher, more robust flavor than commercial ketchup because you start with fresh tomatoes and spices. And naturally, you get to control all aspects of the spices aded - taste frequently to adjust to your pleasure.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hours, 30 minutes
* 10 pounds tomato, dead-ripe
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
* 4 large onions, chopped
* 1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 1 teaspoon peppercorns
* 1 teaspoon whole allspice
* 1 teaspoon whole cloves
* 5 cinnamon sticks
* 1 teaspoon celery seed
* 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
* 4 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed firm
* 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
Cut tomatoes in quarters and puree them in food processor along with bell pepper. Strain puree through a coarse sieve to remove skins and seeds. (You can dump the puree into a colander and work it through with your hands until there is nothing left in the colander but a dryish pulp of skins and seeds.) Now puree onions, combine with tomato and pepper puree, and pour into a large stainless steel or enameled kettle. Cook and stir occasionally over low heat until it is reduced by about a third and is considerably thicker.
Meanwhile put garlic, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and celery seed into the vinegar in a small pot and simmer covered for 1/2 hour to steep spices in the vinegar. Pour about half the spiced vinegar through a tea strainer into the thickened tomato mixture. Stir. Also add sugar, mustard, cayenne, and salt at this point.
Here is where the tasting comes in. You can adjust any of these ingredients to suit you. You can add more spiced vinegar. Or a little plain vinegar. More or less sugar, mustard, cayenne. Just sort of tinker with it. Cook it some more, stirring often, until it looks like catsup should look. Taste and adjust again. You may notice that it looks slightly curdled. Not to worry. Hit it a lick in the food processor. Smooths right out. Pour into sterile jars leaving 1/8" of head space.
Process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes.
Recipe Source: The Only Texas Cookbook by Linda West Eckhardt (Gulf Publishing)