One of the first foods that I questioned on my organic quest was ketchup. I have loved ketchup my entire life, primarily because it counted as a vegetable in my home and got me out of some sticky situations involving canned green beans. Anyone who had something to say about MY ketchup needed pretty compelling evidence that I should not continue to apply a layer to my chicken sandwiches and then smear them through the gobble-worthy goop.
The average bottle of ketchup does come from tomatoes, which is great because tomatoes are loaded in vitamins like C and K. However, the third ingredient is generally HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. This sludge makes the ketchup taste great, but it’s got a bad rap in the organic community for dozens of reasons. My main beefs with HFCS are that the body is not able to process it and that it comes from genetically modified corn (GMO.) Basically, when we consume HFCS it stays in our body and creates blockages that can lead to obesity, heart disease, or cancer. I don’t want any of those things for myself or my family, so now that I’m aware of the ingredient I can take simple steps to avoid it. For one thing, I can buy organic ketchup. Generally organic ketchup still has sugar because that’s what takes your average tomato from marinara to ketchup, but the sweeteners are derived from plants and not modified with chemical processes so our body is able to process them. I also like organic ketchup because it has no GMO ingredients. In my book, anything that kills bees is NOT a good thing for our planet. Except my dog Baja, who I forgive for his bee cravings because he generally picks the ones who would otherwise eat my deck.
Firmly rooted in my decision to abstain from conventional ketchup whenever I can (although I do cave from time to time like last night at Moms Night Out because… French Fries), I finally mustered the courage to make my own. Making something from the food in jars cookbook by Marisa McClellan has been on my to-do-list for more than a year. The reason that it has taken me so long is that I am terrified of canning. Even after three in-person demonstrations with the lovely Marisa herself, I still don’t have the gumption for canning. But a few days ago, I thought to myself how long I keep ketchup on my refrigerator door and wondered- what if I bypass the whole step of canning and just keep it chilled?
When my backyard tomatoes turned ripe in abundance, I gathered them with Hannah’s help. She even took a picture of me during our harvest. I love the way she sees me.
Audrey took the prime role of ketchup assistance and helped me toss tomatoes into our cast iron pot with onions and red peppers for a good, long boil.
After the boil, we smushed the tomatoes through a sieve to separate the seeds and skins.
Back into the pot, the tomato soup received a healthy dose of sugar, vinegar, molasses, and spices. Of course I didn’t have the right ones for the recipe on hand, but I did my best.
WOW! The smell of this ketchup is intoxicating. I never thought I could love ketchup more, but making my own has shown me the truth. It’s like I had a ketchup baby.
Ketchup in a Cast Iron Pot
- 8 pounds roma tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 TBSP Molasses
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
- Boil the tomatoes, onion and red bell peppers for 30 minutes.
- Strain the skins, bay leaf, and seeds, then return the pulp to the pot.
- Add cider vinegar, sugar, molasses, garam masala directly to the mixture. In a spice bag, infuse the crushed cinnamon stick, mustard seed, and pepper flakes into the pot.
- Simmer over medium-low heat for 90 minutes until it is thick.
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