Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Last year, we tried making ketchup for the first time. We were impatient. We thought a couple of hours of boiling should be good enough. What we were left with was the most delicious, and watery ketchup we'd ever eaten.
This year, we were excited by the fact that we grew most of the ingredients ourselves and sourced the cider vinegar at an orchard around the corner. We also decided to reduce it to the point where it actually resembled ketchup and to try a few new recipes to see which one we liked best.
The pictures in today's post are of our Black Plum Ketchup, from a recipe adapted from the Joy of Cooking cook book. The black plums were our favourite heirloom tomato this year. Not only are they delicious right off the vine, they're also quite pasty with, in my opinion, less water than a roma, the classic paste tomato. Black plums were made for ketchup.
I was feeling lazy, so I didn't de-skin the tomatoes. Black plum are a small tomato, so I wasn't looking forward to the task. But I should have known better, since the minute heat hits them, the skins roll up and look (and feel) like tiny pieces of straw all throughout your sauce.
I ended up picking them out with tongs as it reduced which quickly taught me to remove the skins properly in the remaining two batches. I ended up with a very efficient de-skinning system, which was far less stressful.
The hardest thing to do is to let it boil down. 90% of the time in any ketchup recipe is in the reduction. Every minute you're hoping for it to start thickening up. But then, eons later, it finally does. You awake from your stirring daze and look down as the ketchup leaves a deep canyon right to the bottom of the pot in the wake of your moving spoon.
It's almost not worth it. All I can think about as I'm stirring the thick, red, time-suck, is how cheap ketchup is at the supermarket. And then I force myself to ignore that thought, because this ketchup is ours. We didn't just make it, we made the tomatoes, onion, and garlic that made the ketchup.
And then, when it's finally jarred and processed, you get to hear the best sound in the world.