Monday, September 16, 2013

The Wonderful Experience, Making Ketchup

 I love fresh tomatoes. Utah tomatoes are amazing, and I can get them right here in Mesa AZ. brings in fresh fruit in the fall for a few months. From peaches to berries and of course fresh picked vine ripened tomatoes. I usually order Roma's, because I love to bottle them to have on hand for sauces and quick meals. This year I have just had the hankering for homemade ketchup. So I bought 2 cases of tomatoes and started the project. The first thing I did was to research recipes online. I came across a lot of them, but I wanted something spicy and wonderful, sweet and tangy.  So I went to the store and purchased what I needed to get started and thus began my day long event.  I loved it, the process was great fun and the end result was nothing like Heinz or other store bought brands.  It was great though.   It tasted great, just what I was looking for, and had the added bonus of no unnecessary preservatives or sugar.  So here is the step by step experience of making ketchup.

     The first thing is to assemble the ingredients.  I purchased all the fresh ingredients, the dry ingredients and the bottles.


      I pulled out my biggest stock pot.   I love this pan.  I actually purchased it at the Home Store or TJ Max.  It is large and solid stainless steel.

      Two large poblano Chilies, to add some spice.

      Cut, seeded, and chopped. Not to small,  they will be simmering for hours.

     I love the smell and flavor if fennel.  It can add a nice taste to sauces.  Not to much, and fresh has a wonderful flavor. I used the entire bulb, stems and all.

    Onions are amazing and I love them in all sauces.  I used white onions for this sauce.

      Chopped coarsely,  they will also simmer for hours.  Adding a wonderful flavor to the sauce.

      At this point I added a cup of extra virgin olive oil to the large pan and started sauteing what I was chopping up.

        Next I chopped up an entire bulb of ginger.

      No need to peel the ginger, or to dice it very small.  I sliced it and placed it in the pot to sauté with everything else.


  I used an entire heart of celery.  Chopped and added to the pot.

       I love fresh ground pepper corns. I use a small coffee grinder and fresh pepper corns. I used about 1/4 cup of pepper corns.

     A nice hand full of fresh garlic cloves,  no need to mince, it will sauté for hours.  

     From my herb garden I cut a handful of fresh herbs.  Fresh basil, thyme, rosemary and marjoram.  Coarsely chopped and added to the pot to sauté and simmer.

      With all the fresh vegetables and herbs added to the pot, I added one cup of good quality balsamic vinegar.  At this point I sautéed everything until it was tender.  Now it's time to add the tomatoes.

    Doesn't it look great.   Steamy and if only you could smell it.  Wonderful,  the herbs smell delightful, with the vinegar and oil, it is totally amazing.

      The tomatoes are nice and ripe.  No need to peel or cut out the stem. Just quarter them and toss them in the pot with the sautéed herbs.

  That is about thirty pounds of tomatoes.  Chopped and mixed with the herbs and vegetables.


       At this point it is just all about simmering and simmering for a few hours.

      After simmering, you can see in the photo that it has cooked down a couple of inches.  It is still thick, full of stems, seeds, and chunks of ginger.  The next step is to strain and drain. I use a Victoria Strainer.  It separates the seeds, stems, skins, and anything else you don't want in the ketchup.

      This is the Stainer.  Mine is very old,  but it still works well.
The sauce ends up in a the pan and the heavy stuff comes out on the side.

     After separating the sauce in the Strainer,   pour it into a clean stock pot.  Remember it has reduced down and will be less volume on account of all the herbs and vegetables, skins and seeds taken out.  It will be runny, but remember it stills needs more cooking.  About three hours on low simmer.

      From one pot to the next.   The second pot is smaller.  Much less.

        At this point it is time to add the dry spices and the sweetener.  I use the Xagave brand Agave.  I added smoked paprika, red Chile flakes, and salt.  I use only pure wonderful salt.

     Mix the seasonings and stir.  This will simmer for a couple of hours.  And it will reduce down about half.

   I sterilized the jars in my Thermador Steam Oven.  Steam for twenty minutes upside down with the lids off in a separate pan for cleaning also.

     The sauce is done and ready to be bottled.  I use pints.  I actually got 12 pints out of this recipes.  Twelve bottles of sweet spicy goodness.
Here is the finished product.  I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from bottling.
I love bottling and now I have conquered Ketchup.  


      There was  just enough left over for to eat right away.  Of course everyone that walked into the kitchen had to sample it.  That is the fun of cooking, sharing with others.  After a full day of cooking, this Ketchup is like gold.  A Prized culinary treat.
Yes, it has passed the test.  It is good. Although I would not call it Ketchup, 
its far to tasty to have such a plain name.  I call it a "Gourmet Chile Sauce". 
Perhaps the best Chile sauce I have ever eaten.

The Recipe

Gourmet Chile Sauce   "Ketchup"

About 30 pounds of tomatoes, quartered
2 pablano chilies, seeded and diced
1 large fennel bulb, sliced
1 heart of celery bulb, chopped
5 onions, chopped
20 to 30 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh ground pepper corns.
fresh rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram,  small hand full of each
1 cup olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Himalayan salt
1/4 cup crushed red peppers
1/4 cup smoked paprika spicy

In a large pot on high, place olive oil and add chilies, fennel, celery, onions,   and garlic.  Sauté for 15 minutes or until tender.  Add fresh herbs and vinegar.  Add tomatoes and stir well.  Simmer for two hours on medium heat.  Stirring occasionally.   After two hours remove from heat and strain through Victorio Strainer or fine mesh strainer.  Discard bulk and place juice in clean large pot.  Bring to boil and add salt, crushed peppers, and smoked paprika.  Drop heat to simmer and simmer for 2 hours or until thick, making sure to stir often.  When nice and thick remove from heat and place in clean jars.  Top and process in water bath or Thermador convection steam oven for 30 to 40 minutes.  

Yield 13 pints of perfection 

    Sometimes when we attempt to make things the end result does not always turn out the way we think it will or should.  That is how my ketchup worked.  I have always wanted to make ketchup and to tell the truth I am not a big ketchup eater.  But the allure of making it from scratch called me.  I am thrilled with the end result.  It was just what I wanted, but not what I expected to have happen.

     I remember buying a bottle of gourmet ketchup from a specialty store,  it was great,  spicy and full of flavor. But the cost was outrageous for what it was.  So when I set out to make ketchup it was with that in mind.  I have to say this recipe exceeded my expectations.  And the cost was below what I paid for the bottle at the store.  The bottle at the store was $8 a pint, mine turned out to be $3.46 a pint.  The cost of the bottles if you have to buy them would add another .79 cents.  So mine is cheaper, preservative and taste better.  The thing that I have learned over and over again is that some times, especially when cooking, expect the unexpected and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised with the end result.  If we are overly concerned and are not flexible  about how the end will turn out we will often be met with frustration. The true joy that comes from cooking is embracing those pleasant surprises and most often they turn out to be our greatest successes.  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

1 comment:

  1. What a fun day! I could easily imagine the scent of that saute', wonderful!! I've attempted ketchup a couple of times, small batch, with varying results. Love kitchen "science" experiments! Great photos, great post! You always make me want to pull out a pot and start creating ;-D