Homemade Ketchup

PHOTO BY MICHAEL PIAZZA / STYLED BY CATRINE KELTY

When you have a bumper crop of tomatoes from your garden, or the farmers market has a “scratch and dent” sale on ready-to-eat flats, spend an afternoon making homemade ketchup and canning it for the rest of the year (see the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s informative website for all you’ll ever need to know about how to do this safely, using either boiling water or pressure canners).

It’s pretty different from the store-bought version—far less sweet, with more spice, and a brick-red color—but give it a try and you’ll be hooked. With no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, it’s far healthier than Heinz. You can keep it chunky for a rustic, chutney-style sauce, or puree it and pass it through a sieve for a really smooth, more recognizable ketchup. I store mine in a squeeze bottle for extra authenticity! When tomatoes are out of season, feel free to substitute 2 cans of drained tomatoes for the fresh ones. This recipe makes about 2–3 cups of ketchup, but at the height of tomato time, you should double or triple it to make enough for storage.

2 to 2 ½  pounds ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 tablespoon salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath. Using a sharp knife, make an “x” on the bottom of each tomato, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into the ice bath. Using your fingertips, peel the skin away. Tear the tomatoes into sections over a bowl and scoop the seeds out as best you can (collecting them and all their juices in the bowl), then chop the flesh and set aside. Strain the tomato seeds and reserve the juices.

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, and tomato paste. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.

Remove the lid and let the ketchup bubble away for an additional 15–20 minutes to evaporate some of the excess liquid. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.

For a smooth ketchup, puree in a blender and pass through a fine sieve, then store in a jar or a squeeze bottle in the fridge.

Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at sarah@edibleboston.com.