Today we decided to make our own ketchup. We are still picking LOTS of tomatoes from the garden and thought this would be a good way to use up a lot of them. The kids and I went to Penzey's Spices this morning to get all of the whole spices we needed. That part was big fun. The rest of the project ended up being a large, long (seven hours) and messy undertaking.
I have always been intrigued by do-it-yourself articles and instructional shows that make incredibly arduous tasks seem like no big deal. You know the type. They often contain phrases like, "JUST gather six dozen roses..." or "JUST mix up a fifty-five gallon drum of cement..." I will now recount our tale in that fashion.
Homemade Ketchup ...What could be simpler?!?
First, you'll need to make an infused apple cider vinegar. Remember, only spices derived from the most exotic of locales will taste good. You'll need cinnamon sticks from Sri Lanka*, whole cloves from Madagascar, celery seed from India and allspice berries from wherever allspice berries come from. Be sure to use one of these nifty little bags!
*Obscure Historical Note
Some cinnamon sticks may say they are from Ceylon. In 1972, Ceylon officially became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Be sure these cinnamon sticks are fresher than 1972.
Next, gather whatever tomatoes you have around the house. You'll need twenty-four pounds. Quickly wash, core and quarter them. If you start to feel overwhelmed, remember, Theresa Heinz is probably doing the same thing you are RIGHT NOW! Put the tomatoes in a large pot*. Most well-appointed kitchens have pots of this size.
Witches often use pots like this. Put together a quick witch costume to wear while you stir. This will open opportunities to discuss the Salem Witch Trials with your eager home schooled children.
Chop and add LOTS of onions. You may tear up at this point anyway, so it's a good time to consider your misspent youth and unfinished master's degree. Oh...add cayenne pepper too!
Now, start stirring. You're going to need a spoon with a nice long handle to avoid steam burns. Once your tomatoes have cooked down, put all of the tomato mixture through a food mill. You're going to need LOTS of bowls and pots to collect the pulp.
Once you've finished, it's time to dump it all back into your giant pot and add sugar and salt. Boil the mixture down to half. This part should take approximately forty-five minutes. (It took us approximately three hours.)
Finally, it's time to prepare your canner and jars. You'll need to fill and process your jars following "standard canning procedures".
What could be simpler? Delicious homemade ketchup to share with friends and family that costs nothing more than a day of your life.
Now, go and freshen up, your husband will be home soon. Don't take too long though, your kids aren't going to drum along to Neil Diamond much longer and dinner isn't going to make itself now, is it?
There will be times during the ketchup making process where you may become overwhelmed. You may even wonder, "Why don't I just go to Kroger and buy a bottle?" Let's take a moment to consider lessons gleaned from the local foods movement: Only bad mothers and serial rapists feed their kids STORE-BOUGHT ketchup.