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Another DIY alternative to Heinz

If using fresh tomatoes to make ketchup seems daunting, try using canned tomatoes. (iStockPhoto)

For this year's annual tomato issue, I challenged the conventional wisdom that says: If there's Heinz within reach, making homemade ketchup isn't worth the effort.

From-scratch ketchup is time-consuming. But using canned tomatoes cuts the work in half. No peeling the tomatoes or pushing them through a food mill. Instead, you season the tomatoes, whir them in the blender and cook the mixture down until it's thick. The whole process takes about two hours. Double the recipe and you've got enough ketchup to satisfy a hamburger-loving family of four for months.

-- Jane Black

Local Sixfortyseven Ketchup
Makes 3 cups

If making homemade ketchup seems daunting, canned tomatoes are a great option. They cut the work in half and deliver a concentrated, glossy ketchup.

Adapted from Derek Luhowiak of Local Sixfortyseven.

Tested by Jane Black

12 tablespoons cider vinegar, or more to taste
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium clove garlic, coarsely chopped (1 teaspoon)
1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped (a scant 1 cup)
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
5 coriander seeds
1 allspice berry
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 star anise
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
5 whole black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon salt, or to taste
28 ounces good-quality canned tomatoes, such as Vantia brand, plus their juices
1/2 cup raw sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, or to taste

Combine 6 tablespoons of the vinegar, the oil, garlic, onion, apple, ginger, celery seed, coriander seed, allspice berry, cinnamon, star anise, powdered mustard, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, salt, the tomatoes and their juices in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; skim any scum from the surface, then reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by a third.

Discard the bay leaves and star anise; also the cloves, if you can find them easily.

Transfer the hot mixture to a blender. Remove the center knob of the blender lid (to allow steam to escape. Place a dish towel over the opening. Puree until smooth, then press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer back into the saucepan.

Add the raw and brown sugars and the remaining 6 tablespoons of vinegar. (If you prefer a more vinegary ketchup, add a little less sugar. You can always add in more later.) Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy. To see whether the ketchup is done, place a teaspoon of it on a small plate. Tilt the plate; if any liquid separates and runs down, continue to cook until it passes the plate test.

When the ketchup is the desired consistency, taste again. Adjust the sugar, vinegar and/or salt as needed. Be aware that the ketchup will taste slightly different when cold.

Divide among individual containers; cool to room temperature then seal and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

By The Food Section  |  August 11, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags: Jane Black, recipes  
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This looks like a really great ketchup recipe, especially because you can make it any time of the year.

If you have an abundance of tomatoes or buy a case at your farmers market, I think it's well worth your time to make ketchup; one big batch lasts you most of the year.

Here's my recipe for roasted tomato ketchup:

Posted by: tomagram | August 11, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"satisfy a hamburger-loving family of four for months"

Is it safe to keep this around for 4 months? I know preservatives aren't good for me, but I worry about keeping something without preservative around for 4 months...

Posted by: BigGreenFrank | August 11, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I must to admit... I have never really "gotten" ketchup. To me, it is an overly sweet, sometimes chemically tasting, generally overpowering condiment. HOWEVER - after reading this (and some of the other tomato/ketchup coverage on-line and in the paper), I have been inspired to try making my own version and re-assessing. Thank you!

Posted by: suburbanfoodnerd | August 11, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse


I believe it says a family of four for a month, meaning a family consisting of four people for one (1) month. And yes, it should be good for one month.

Posted by: katuohy1982 | August 12, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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