Ketchup is not my favourite condiment by a long shot. I only really eat it with chips and even then not consistently. Heinz was founded in 1869 and had over 60 varieties of sauces and products on offer when in 1876 it began offering Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Ketchup were traditionally sauces made from other ingredients with mushroom ketchup being very popular in England. Since 1907 Heinz have become synonymous with "ketchup" when it began exporting it all over the world.
The ingredients list of Heinz ketchup is: Tomato Concentrate , Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt, Spice, Onion Powder, Natural Flavoring. The two types of corn syrup are worrying and my own mother looked down on ketchup and discouraged it but did not outright ban it. Parents attending a 6 week jam and chutney making course told me of their frustrations of their children wanting to add ketchup to all their food and worried about the syrup and salt levels. The following week we made a healthy alternative ketchup and the children loved the taste and the parents loved giving them a homemade option using fresh tomatoes with minimal amounts of sugar and salt. I was so impressed with the results that I decided to make my own version but the idea was overtaken by the business end of the summer fruit season.
Fast forward a year and there was a deal on tomatoes at Swiss Cottage Green Grocers that I couldn't resist and the memory of the tomato ketchup popped back into my mind. What I didn't count on was that the entire process would take me about twenty-four hours and that at the end of it when I shut my eyes I would see a psychedelic array of tomatoes like those above.
I roasted 9 kilos of tomatoes along with some onion and garlic with olive oil until they had carmelised and released their juice. Next was the most labour intensive part of the process; putting all the roasted ingredients through a passaverdura which separates the skin and seeds from the tomato flesh.
The countless cranks were worth it as the resulting paste from the passaverdura cannot be matched from sieving as it really does scrape every last bit of the tomato that you want in your sauce and leaves the rest.
Next up was to place all the tomatoes that had gone through the passaverdura into my trusty pot, well one of my trusty pots, and add a very secret seection of spices. The only sugar I added was about half a jar of six-pepper jelly to give it a bit of sweetness and a bit of heat. and let it simmer and thicken for about two hours. The resulting sauce is thick, tangy, spicy and flavourful but it's all about the tomatoes.
Twenty-four hours + 9 kilos of tomatoes = 5 x 250ml bottles of Six-Pepper 'Tchup. I have been enjoying the 'Tchup with eggs and invariably adding it to sauces and recipes. I'm not offering these jars for sale at the moment as I've already been through two of them and gave two away as Christmas presents. I will definitely make some more once tomatoes are back in season and the memory of cranking the passaverdura has faded. In the meantime I will be rationing the remaining bottle and trying my hand at some other traditional ketchup recipes, perhaps mushrooms or walnuts - watch this space.