Ketchup, Hold the HFCS
No matter where you stand on the issue, last week’s news about two studies linking high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and mercury probably has you thinking about what lurks behind the refrigerator door and those kitchen cabinets. HFCS figures into the soda we drink, as well as candy, ice cream and various dairy products, baked goods, snacks, cereals, frozen food and all kinds of processed food that comes in a can or a bottle. According to “Not So Sweet,” one of the aforementioned studies published by the Institute of Agricultural and Trade Policy, Americans consumed 9,294 tons of HFCS in 2002, the most recent figures available based on U.S. Census Bureau data. TONS. It makes food sweet all right, but it also acts a preservative, which is probably why that bottle of ketchup in the refrigerator door is still kicking.
Some diehards might argue that HFCS is why ketchup tastes so good in the first place. Well, yeah, if that’s the only way you’ve ever had America’s beloved “vegetable.” But what if I told you there’s a way to get your tomato-y condiment without the controversy? That you can make your own ketchup in your kitchen -- not a lab -- and it positively rocks the house down.
Ketchup with a personality -- what a novel concept. I can actually taste the spices infused with the tomato, onion and green chile mixture, and instead of HFCS sweetening the pot, it’s brown sugar, baby.
Start to finish, you need about 90 minutes, then additional time for cooling and setting up in the fridge. It won’t be thick like you remember as a kid, but it will bring new meaning to your burgers, franks, hash browns and whatever else needs a ketchuppy lift.
From the February 2009 issue of Saveur
KOD notes in parentheses
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon celery seeds
¼ teaspoon chile flakes
¼ teaspoon whole allspice
2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used a 28-ounce can of tomato puree)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup white vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 anaheim chile, chopped (I couldn’t get my hands on one, so used a poblano chile in its place)
1 clove garlic
Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamonm, celery seeds, chile flakes and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a four-quart saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, sugar, onion and Anaheim chile. Smash garlic and add. Cook mixture until onions and chiles are very soft, about 40 minutes, stirring along the way.
Remove spice bundle and puree sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth. (A hand-held immersion blender would work here as well..) Note: Be careful of spattering, as sauce is hot. I used a towel to cover opening of food processor.
Strain sauce through a mesh sieve. Pour strained sauce into a four-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar or vinegar, if you like.
Transfer ketchup to a glass jar. Set aside and let cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to three weeks.
Makes 2- 2 ½ cups.
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