Ketchup is one of those magical foods that bears almost no relation to the ingredients it's made from. Go to your fridge now and eat a teaspoon of ketchup straight from the bottle. Does it taste of tomatoes? Does it taste of anything apart from sugar and vinegar? Quite.
I wanted to try making ketchup to see the transformation from a bunch of fruit into a delicious goo. The secret? The recipe is 25% sugar.
I started off with a recipe I found on the Guardian website and adapted it - mainly to reduce the insane quantities of sugar and salt! I wanted to make a regular Heinz style one, and a Bloody Mary ketchup as sold by Stokes, because everything's better with chilli in it.
Below you can see the ingredients - well, the tomatoes, everything else is underneath. After an hour and a half it's reduced down into a sweet gooey mess.
Makes about 1.25 litres
- 1.5kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 40g salt
- 350g sugar
- 40ml balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 whole cloves
Optional Blood Mary additions:
- 2 tbsp vodka
- A good glug of Worcestershire sauce
- Chilli to taste
Put all the ingredients in a pan and simmer for about an hour and a half. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.
When it's reduced down by about half, puree it in a food processor and then sieve into a clean pan.
Adjust the thickness with water if too thick, or reduce some more if it seems too thin. Bear in mind that it's going to be a lot thicker when it's cold.
Allow to cool, bottle and serve.
"Amazing", "delicious", "oh, I thought it was shop-bought", "got a good kick", and "as good as Heinz" were some of the comments people made.
But therein lies the futility of this recipe: Heinz have perfected ketchup over the last 140 years, but they've also become deeply entrenched in your soul as the standard for ketchup. So the best I can ever hope for is "as good as Heinz". And their product is a fraction of the cost of mine.
Interesting, but I won't be doing it again.
In ten days we're leaving the UK for new adventures in Spain...Read more
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