Tomato ketchup, love it or hate it, it’s everywhere. In some places it’s a standard always available add-on, while other places try hard to avoid serving it all. We’ve generally had a bottle of that famous variety in the fridge along with a few others our boys enjoyed while they were at home. Right now though the house is devoid of ketchup of any sort. I looked at it in the supermarket the other day and decided not to buy anymore. I’m happy to have ketchup, but it needs to be home made, I’m getting more and more fussy over what we eat and what goes into our food. I can almost hear the children groan at that last remark, more fussy? How can that be? But the minute I see a list of E numbers, colours or preservatives or other items I don’t recognise as food, I just don’t see the point in buying it. What I want is food, real food, with JUST food in it, nothing reconstituted, nothing chemical.
I’m one of those awful people who eye up what people have in their shopping trolley, I don’t think I will ever actually do it, but I’ve longed to go over to people and say, “you really intend to eat that stuff”? WOW!
The issue of course is that I saw a recipe the other day (at least I think it was the other day), but of course I can’t find this now. Generally I make a note of things I like the look of, but there are no emails sent to myself, there are no bookmarks, it’s not saved in Feedly and I can’t locate it in any browser history and I can’t see a written note about it either. Obviously now it seems more important and other things are not quite the same, however I have tomatoes, a need for ketchup to go with our bunny burgers and so a solution must be found, of course I don’t have a food mill and I can’t actually be bothered with the whole idea of sieving said ketchup either, at least not today. So after much research it looks like a Nigel Slater adaptation will be my first home made ketchup solution. I love Nigel Slater, his writing is so good, so natural and the food so scrummy. Like him I often find I don’t have the exact ingredients or indeed we may be allergic or dislike something, so it is rare I follow a recipe exactly and sometimes I just make it up as I go along. That can be fun, rarely ends in complete disaster and can bring a whole raft of new discoveries into my diet, like sausage and peanut butties for instance or bacon and banana – honestly try them, they are totally delicious!
But back to ketchup. I don’t have all of Nigel’s ingredients, nor do I have the quantities, but this is my answer to his wonderful ketchup recipe. Nigel’s recipe is a ‘tomato’ sauce recipe, but between buying the tomatoes for this, loosing the recipe and finally getting around to the cooking, I’d used most of the tomatoes. Obviously this was a bit of an issue, so ever being one to improvise, I raided the fridge for red peppers and so my adaptation is for Tomato and Pepper Ketchup. Nigel also used Star Anise, which I also didn’t have, I meant to add some fennel seeds as I thought that would be nice, but I forgot, so maybe I’ll try that next time. The good thing is that there will be a next time, it was fun to make, didn’t take too long and is really tasty.
- 1 small onion
- Small knob of butter
- 1 small fresh red chilli
- 800g of fresh tomatoes and peppers (I had 4 large tomatoes and 2 red peppers)
- 3 tbsp of caster sugar
- 2 tbsp of malt vinegar 1 tsp red peppercorns
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
Nigel’s recipe specifies red onion which I think would have been nicer but I didn’t have one and the ordinary every day onion worked just fine. Peel your onion and slice it thinly. Melt your knob of butter in a heavy pan, over low heat before adding the onions to cook slowly. Leave them to sweat for about five minutes stirring from time to time. While this is cooking, chop your red chilli finely and then chop 3/4 of your tomatoes and peppers into chunks. Put the remainder of the tomatoes and peppers into a food processor and pulp to a puree.
Add the caster sugar to your pan and keep cooking until the onions are golden, take care not to let it burn. Then add the vinegar, your chopped chilli, tomatoes and peppers and then your tomato/pepper puree. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer. If you want to speed this step up then make sure you cut your peppers quite small – I left mine as fairly sizeable chunks and they took a good deal longer to soften then I’d expected.
Grind your peppercorns and stir those into the mix along with your paprika, black mustard seeds and dijon mustard, adding salt to taste as well. Allow this mixture to simmer until the peppers mush when pressed with a spoon against the pan.
Once cooked, remove from the heat, spoon into clean jars and leave to cool before popping in the fridge. I popped my jar into the AGA while I was cooking to ensure it was sterile.
This amount made one large 1lb jar of tomato ketchup and a bowl left over for immediate use. It’s nice and chunky and went really well with our bunny burgers. I’m guessing if you wanted too, you could blitz the whole thing and then sieve it to have something that resembles the bought version. However I thought this made a really nice change and its very tasty. Though it may not keep that long you can always pop it into smaller containers and freeze it.
I can imagine this would work really nicely on top of a pizza or with pasta too.