tomatoes, pot, ketchupI’ve posted before about making ketchup. So, fair warning, this is not a recipe post. I’ll refer, as I have in the past, to the excellent Thane Prince cookbook, Jams, Jellies and Chutneys. It’s my go-to book for English style pickles and preserves. By now, I’ve made Thane’s ketchup recipe dozens of times. But I’m still finding out things she didn’t exactly warn me about. Perhaps these are techniques that experienced canners know, but neophytes such as myself would have appreciated these extra tips. So allow me to provide you with a much needed addendum. All respect to Thane, but I think she needed to step back six paces and address the novice. I guess that’s what I’m here for. And lest I scare you off with the unvarnished truth, you will need this recipe. If you are growing tomatoes, you need recipes that will allow you to process maximum amounts of harvest. Nothing demands bags of tomatoes like ketchup. So read on.

But first, did I mention that I think I’ve grown the biggest tomato ever?

boxcar willie, beefsteak tomato, bigass tomato

This is a Boxcar Willie Beefsteak and it weighed close to two pounds!

This is NOT the kind of tomato you will be using to make ketchup. You must must must use only sauce tomatoes such as Principe Borghese or San Marzano. The little sauce tomatoes have a higher pulp to water ratio. Trust me on this. You are going to be boiling down 8 lbs into approximately 4 half pint jars. You want to start with as little water as possible.

For similar reasons, a Cuisinart is absolutely necessary. Before you start, bear in mind that you will be grinding everything through a food mill.

celery, food processor

You want everything as liquidized as possible before you subject your wrists to grinding for hours.

Oh, and the recipe also won’t make clear to you that everything in this recipe will be reduced and concentrated. So things you don’t want to taste MORE of you’ll want to eliminate. So for instance, only buy or use organic vegetables. You don’t want concentrated pesticides in your ketchup.

And the white bits in the pepper you'll add: very bitter. Cut that out unless you want concentrated bitterness in your ketchup.

And the white bits in the pepper you’ll add: very bitter. Cut that out unless you want concentrated bitterness in your ketchup.

Remember I warned you about that food mill? You’ll be grinding that thing for more than half an hour. Do the initial cooking down of the vegetables for five times longer than Thane tells you to.

You want all those fiberous veggies like the celery and the onion as soft as possible before you try to grind them through the mill.

You want all those fiberous veggies like the celery and the onion as soft as possible before you try to grind them through the mill.

For the record, tomato skins and seeds are the toughest and most adhesive things known in nature. They'll get everywhere!

For the record, tomato skins and seeds are the toughest and most adhesive things known in nature. They’ll get everywhere and you’ll be washing up for hours.

Now comes the second simmering down. You should just laugh at Thane’s suggestion that it will take “about 20 minutes” to get the desired consistency. If you want anything close to ketchup thickness, start blocking out hours.

tomato ketchup

This is about two hours of simmering in. Still not Heinz consistency.

Which will leave you plenty of time to grind all your spices by hand.

Which will leave you plenty of time to grind all your spices by hand.

 

Any resident terriers will NOT be happy with you at this point. All this cooking and nothing tasty!

Any resident terriers will NOT be happy with you at this point. All this cooking and nothing tasty!

By this time you will need to be fortified. I recommend Hitching Post Pinot Noir.

It's rustic, it's Californian. But it's not so heavy that you can't complete the hours of work still ahead of you.

It’s rustic, it’s Californian. But it’s not so heavy that you can’t complete the hours of work still ahead of you.

Once the consistency is right, you'll need a Bigass pressure canner. Like this one.

Once the consistency is right, you’ll need a Bigass pressure canner. Like this baby.

That’s my addendum of those extra tips the canning and preserving books won’t tell you. Now go get Thane Prince’s book. But heed my warnings.

And fergodssake, throw your long suffering terriers a fricken bone. This is a long process and it's no fun for anyone without treats.

And fergodssake, throw your long suffering terriers a fricken bone. This is a long process and it’s no fun for anyone without treats.

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