Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Traditional tomato ketchup

With summer tomatoes luscious and ripe, and only a few bucks a box, now’s the time to turn them into stuff for the rest of the year. The scenario: you have enough bottles of passata to feed a small Italian village for 6 months and they are stashed in every conceivable corner of your abode. You’ve eaten insalata caprese or some variation of a tomato salad every night for the last two weeks, and there’s still more tomatoes left. So what else do you do with them to enjoy their ripe goodness into the colder months?

I made ketchup this time last year with a box of tomatoes, and even divided up among family and friends, my final bottle only ran out last week. Once you’ve made it you’ll never go back to the shop bought stuff. It’s also one of those recipes that doesn’t take that much effort, but requires a little time to simmer and reach a good consistency. This is adapted from a recipe that appeared in Cuisine magazine last year.

5 kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1.5 kg brown onions, roughly chopped
500 g brown sugar
500 g white sugar (or you can use all brown or a deeper flavour and colour)
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp salt
1 litre of spiced vinegar

Place all the above in a large pan and bring to the simmer. Let it simmer gently uncovered for 2 hours until pulpy. Cool slightly and pass through the fine blade of a mouli (food mill) to remove the skins and seeds. You’ll end up with a fine puree.

This next bit takes a little judgment. Put the puree into a non-reactive pan and add about 750 mls – 1 litre of spiced vinegar*. Bring to the boil and boil for 30 - 90 minutes or more until it becomes the consistency of a thick sauce and looses any watery later at the top. Taste it, and based on the taste and consistency, add more vinegar if necessary. It’s better to err on the side of less vinegar to start off with in case the sauce is too tart – you can always add more if it’s too sweet. If the sauce isn’t thick enough, boil it for longer to reduce to the right consistency and stir occasionally to stop it catching on the base of the pan. Pour into sterile bottles, seal, and store on a cool dark place. Refrigerate a bottle once you’ve opened it. Makes about 4.5 litres.

The reason this is a bit fiddly at the end, and the final boiling times so broad, is that so much depends on the level of acidity in the tomatoes, their ripeness, and their water content. Consequently you need to play around with the liquid content to get the right thickness towards the rnd of the process. If you find after storage or refrigeration it’s looking watery, just re-boil it to reduce it a little further.

* You can buy spiced vinegar from supermarkets or deli’s, but if you can’t find any, crush a teaspoon each of fennel seeds, whole cloves and coriander seeds, add to a decent white wine vinegar, bring to the boil for a minute or two, remove from the heat and let stand until you need to use it. Obviously the longer the better, but even a few hours will give you a spiced-up result.


Blogger Ange said...

Sounds fantastic, if only I had the time.... Might try & fit it in if I see some cheap tomatoes going

10:28 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

It's worth it for the amount you get! And I'm on long service leave so I have time to muck around with this sort of stuff!

7:25 AM  

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