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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Homemade Catsup

Every year I try to do a new canning project. Last year it was pickle relish made from lemon cukes (golden relish) and this year it is catsup. I have this book with a lot of pickling recipes in it and it has two catsup recipes. One is for catsup that taste just like Heinz™/Hunts™ catsup so I used that for the familiarity of the taste and because it used more tomatoes than the other recipe as well as a lot of onions which I have an abundance of including several pounds of semi rotten ones that need using ASAP.

So I get out the Victorio Strainer set up (the kitchen tool I can not live without this time of year) and bring in a crate of various tomatoes (red, yellow, pink, striped) that are beginning to go. Than Eugene brings me a bucket of maters that need using before I hit the ones in the crate. Than I find several pounds of green peppers and 5 large onions (actually 8 or 9 medium onions). I prep the onions and peppers for the catsup first by cleaning them and than putting them into the Cuisinart and pureeing them into a frothy green substance. Added a bit of vinegar and let that sit while I put 25 pounds of tomatoes of various colors and flavors through the Victorio Strainer. Added the maters to the green froth and than added the sugar some salt and the rest of the vinegar and put the whole mess (which was by this time in the largest roasting pan I have, one that can hold a 30 pound turkey, aka birdzilla) into a 200˚F oven. The directions said to cook this for 10 hours but I gave it 14 hours and turned up the heat the next morning to 250˚F and the stuff was not a thick and rich catsup but rather a runny sweet and tart tomato sauce. So I took the roasting pan full of sweet and tangy tomato sauce out of the oven and tried to thicken it with corn starch (Rumsford GMO fee corn starch!). This did not work very effectively, it thickened a bit but not much. Probably did not use enough to get the job done. Or maybe I should have used a flour paste...

Any hoo after attempting to thicken the catsup I gave up on that idea and got the canning jars out of the boil canner and proceeded to fill them up with the sweet and tangy tomato sauce, put the lids and rings on and canned up 7 quarts leaving 1 quart extra.

The extra quart I put in a sauce pan and cooked it down on low heat for 3 or 4 hours to see if I could get it thick enuff to call catsup. Nope, could not. So than I decided to try thickening it this time with a flour paste (a couple of table spoons of white flour with water added to it than stirred well into a thin paste or slurry). This worked very well and I had before a substance that tasted a lot like commercial catsup.

So if I do this again I will be changing the recipe quite a bit. I will toss out the corn syrup (don't want no GMO's in my catsup if I can avoid this) and replace with brown sugar (did this in the first batch with good results). I will for go the several days of slow cooking in a low over (will cook over night) and instead use a the flour paste thickener to get the right consistency. I will use a cup more of vinegar (I used rice vinegar rather than the cider vinegar called for because that is what I have in abundance) and perhaps use a bit of balsamic. I will add either garlic powder or fresh pureed garlic and a tablespoon more salt. Than I think I will have an excellent catsup.

I am quite excited to learn how to make my own catsup. It is a condiment we use a lot around here and I have never liked the fact that when eating this I am eating High Fructose Corn syrup, a food additive I try to avoid like the plague but because I use a lot of commercial catsup I do eat. Not to mention we will no longer be spending a couple of dollars a month on the stuff.

Next will be BBQ sauce. I will use roasted ripe peppers, some OJ and bacon in the catsup recipe, maybe some molasses too.

Oh yeah, the catsup I fooled around with on the stove became Sloppy Joe base and it was excellent and that is probably what the first batch will end up being as it is not really catsup.

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