5000 words about food written by me is due soon to someone else. So I thought this might be a good time to make and can ketchup for the first time. (It is also a good time to clean the house, reorganize the spice drawer, label all my homemade canned goods–including illustrations, you know, in case I ever suddenly forget how to read…)
As the legend goes, a 3 yr old Leena was once left by herself in the back of the car on a long trip with a McDonald’s bag full of ketchup packets. Baby Leena used to babble and chat to herself, but her parents realized that she had been quiet for a bit too long. They found her face smeared with red, and a giant pile of empty ketchup packets. And a little throw-up. Just a bit. On her Rainbow Brite shoe.
The result was a lifetime of ketchup aversion. I will occasionally eat it these days, on a decent piece of meatloaf or with the occasional French fry, but really don’t go out of my way for it. I love a good condiment, but I feel like I need more than tomato and sweetness on my palate for ketchup to come into my regular condiment rotation.
Enter Leena’s kick-ass five-spice ketchup. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, a teeny bit sour and just a hint umami. I started off with a basic ketchup recipe from my favorite canning book ever. I trust this book for a proper acid ratio so that I don’t kill anyone with my ketchup, but the seasoning had cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. I freaking hate cloves.
But I’ve been obsessed with Chinese five spice lately (love it in apple crisp, pickled cherries), so I decided to go with that. After researching a few other recipes online, I decided to add a bay leaf, dry mustard powder, fresh garlic, cayenne pepper and fresh grated ginger as well. Right before canning, I had to adjust the flavors by adding more sugar than the original recipe called for. But in the end, burgers and meatloaves everywhere will be a little bit better thanks to my kick-ass ketchup.
Now, what else did I have to do today?
Recipe: Leena’s Kick-Ass Spicy 5 Spice Ketchup
- 7 cups or 4 lbs of chopped peeled tomatoes
- ½ cup of chopped onion
- ½ cup of chopped sweet red peppers
- 2/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup + 2 TB brown sugar or granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pickling salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1½ tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 3-4 tsp. fresh grated ginger
- 2 tsp five spice powder
- ½-1tsp of cayenne pepper
- Combine tomatoes, onion and red pepper in a blender or food processor and process untilk smooth. Remove to a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Add vinegar, sugar and salt. Add spices, ginger, tomato paste (if desired).Return to a boil and boil gently, uncovered, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by half or until mixture rounds up on a spoon without separation, about 1 ½ hours.
- Removed hot, sterilized jars from canning pot and process half pint jars for 15 minutes w/ ½ inch headspace with proper canning procedure. Makes about 4 cups
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