Thursday, March 24, 2011

Homemade Ketchup

We ran out of ketchup, or if you prefer, catsup but I planned on making burgers and fries tonight. Well, I figured that since I had tomato paste on hand and some vinegars on hand surely I could create the condiment. I mean, c'mon, Hunts and Hienz came from somewhere. We all know that WWII brought about the preservative revolution meaning less trips to the grocer and less real cooking at home for many Americans. Ketchup wasn't always bottled. People had to actually combine their own ingredients to make it, imagine that!

I have thing for ketchup. I don't drown everything in the stuff, but good ketchup really makes burgers and hot dogs something special. When I visited my oldest sister in LA, I was amazed that her ketchup tasted different that the stuff you got in the DC area, and perhaps the East Coast. I couldn't identify the specific thing that made it different, but I was in love. When I returned home, I had a bottle in my suitcase (and some burritos in a cooler). I haven't found that awesome ketchup flavor anywhere since, so I am always left feeling underwhlemed whenever I have ketchup. I want it to have that certain oomph, but it never does. 

I did some searching on the internet. I basically knew that ketchup involved tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. I have all those things. Many recipes called for apple cider vinegar, but I don't have that on hand; I have white and balsamic. Finally I came across something I can work with at Wicked Good Dinner.

It was simple, I had all the stuff in my pantry - my figurative pantry because I don't have a REAL pantry, just cupboards :( which makes me sad sometimes, but I get over it easily when I make something yummy. Back to the recipe. It was FANTASTIC. So here is the proof that it really was ketchup:

Isn't it cool? What's better is that I figured out the 'oomph' factor. Most bottled ketchup is made with apple cider vinegar, which I imagine is because its cheap. That 'oomph' comes from the balsamic vinegar... This ketchup recipe has me in love. I want to make more... I want to make food now that requires ketchup... I'm in love. I may never go back to the bottle again.

Here's the recipe:

Yields: 1/4 cup (4 servings)
Allergy info: soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (you can use any kind of sugar, including a sub)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon crushed garlic (about 1/2 small clove)
Water to thin
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, sugar, balsamic vinegar and garlic. Add water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the ketchup is the desired consistency. Adjust seasoning, adding salt to taste, and additional sugar or vinegar. Set aside for 15 minutes and serve. Store covered, in the fridge, for up to 7 days.

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