Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors. I love it there! I especially like the dry, recirculated air. Just kidding! It would actually be great to take the dogs for a walk or meet a friend for lunch right about now. I’d even consider organizing the garage! Unfortunately, it’s way too cold to do anything. Kinda makes you a little restless, impatient, and sick of everything… It kinda makes you start thinking about moving to Hawaii too, but that’s a topic for a different time.
Anyway, being trapped inside is also a good time to plan for the growing season. What will we grow next year? How many plants? Which varieties? How can we increase productivity? Naturally, such thoughts really force you to remember what your goals are, because planting a garden for fun is different from planting a garden for increased self-sufficiency.
For several years now, our goal has been to grow as much of our own food as possible. Some things have been really successful (beans, tomatoes), others not so much (beets, Brussels sprouts). Of course, the gardening is just the first stage. After that, we still have to process, store, and then use what we’ve grown.
For me, figuring out new ways to reduce the number of things we have to buy at the grocery store is the most exciting part. So far, I’ve published posts on quite a few staple items that you can make from scratch: garlic powder and onion powder, mayonnaise, pickles, tomato paste, sweetened condensed milk, hummus, refried beans, vanilla pudding, ice cream, English muffins, pita bread, tortillas, and salad dressings to name a few. We no longer buy any of these items at the grocery store. True, we don’t produce all of the items needed to make these staples. We don’t (yet) produce milk, wheat, or vegetable oil, and I’m still trying to figure out how to make vinegar. But we’re getting there!
Most recently, ketchup has been at the top of my list of pantry staples to make from scratch. The main ingredients for ketchup are essentially tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and a few seasonings. I decided to use both tomato paste and stewed tomatoes for my version of ketchup, (though for some reason most recipes seem to use mostly one or the other). I used our own garlic powder and onion powder instead of fresh onions and garlic, because it was just way less work. And I used our own honey, as well as brown sugar, as sweeteners. I also added dried mustard, ground cloves, allspice, and cayenne as recommended by this recipe from Serious Eats.
Then reduce the heat and simmer until it’s thick. As with all recipes that require reduction, the timing of the thickening process is highly variable. If you are prepared to stand there and stir the mixture continuously, you can be done in 20 minutes or so. If you want to let this reduce largely unsupervised, keep the heat on the lowest setting and let it go for up to an hour. Make sure that you do stir every once in a while though!
This ketchup is sweeter and spicier than regular Heinz or Hunt’s ketchup, but the recipe is incredible flexible. If you are worried about the spices, start off with half of the amounts listed and add to your taste. Look around for different recipes as well, there may be a different spice blend out there that is more right for you. You can also leave out the honey or the brown sugar. You could even add Stevia, Agave, or even coconut sugar instead. And you can definitely use less than what I used. Let me know what you come up with!
- 1 6-oz can, or ¾ cup frozen, tomato paste
- 1 15-oz can, or about 2 cups frozen, tomato puree
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until smooth and thoroughly blended.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency is reached.