From ballparks to fast food joints to fine dining establishments, you can find ketchup on the tables everywhere. Curtis Stone has a recipe in his book What’s for dinner? for homemade ketchup. Combine pureed tomatoes with a few ingredients: Worcestershire sauce, onion, brown sugar, tomato paste and cider vinegar. Apply some heat. That’s all there is. No secret ingredient and no magic to it. He says it would be fun to do and, in the end, you will have a fresh, zesty flavor that’s hard to resist. I’m convinced. It’s time to handcraft a version of ketchup in my own kitchen.
Tomatoes are so ripe and juicy. They defy any knife’s attempt to cut them up. I’ve found it easier to rub them over the coarse holes of a box grater placed in medium bowl than using a blender. I learned this technique in a cooking class in Spain. This is an old fashion but a fun way to puree the tomatoes without the skin. I skipped the blender step in the recipe all together.
Making the ketchup at home takes time; it takes over an hour to simmer down the ketchup to the right consistency after the sauce comes to a boil. (Without simmering it down all the way, you can get a lovely concentrated sauce suitable for pasta or rice or vegetables.) Just like making any sauce, time is a necessary component so that flavor can develop to its fullest potential. Patience will be rewarded. I’m glad I spent the time to learn from this recipe and cooked up one of the most iconic sauces around the world. Besides, you really can’t beat any food made with the freshest ingredients, especially with tomatoes in season, no artificial flavoring and free of preservatives.
The texture of this homemade version is not as smooth as the store-bought ketchup. (If you want the ketchup to be velvety smooth, use a high-power blender for the task.) But the taste is great; it’s fresh and has many layers of flavor. I want to experiment with different flavors. That’s where the real fun begins. Here are some ideas and riffs on the familiar to shake up the status quo:
- Herbed ketchup using fresh herbs from the garden
- Ginger and five-spice ketchup for an Asian twist
- Horseradish ketchup for fish or seafood
|Tomatoes in season: time to handcraft your home version of ketchup|
I’m linking this post to IHCC. The theme of this week is “finishes touches,” where the right touches and finishing sauces can make a big difference in the final dish.