A Tale of Two Recipes : Homemade Ketchup

Wed, Aug 27 • 1

Lesson learned : When you see a recipe that looks good on a cooking show, write it down, because the corresponding recipe on the program’s website may be very different.

Yesterday, I tried making a batch of Jamie Oliver’s homemade ketchup recipe, as he demonstrated on his episode on pickling and preserving, on Jamie at Home. The recipe I downloaded has you brown off a red onion with half a fennel bulb, a stalk of celery, then add freshly ground coriander, a couple of whole cloves, some ginger root, some garlic, a red chili, and the stems of a bunch of basil. Then you could mix up a pound of fresh tomatoes with a pound of canned crushed tomatoes (or use all fresh tomatoes), and a cup and a half of water. Simmer that for 45 minutes, add the leaves from the basil, whiz in a blender, strain, and then add sugar and vinegar, and simmer for a long time until it was reduced by half. I followed the recipe to the letter, and while the resulting ketchup was pretty good, I found it to be entirely too sweet, plus the purpose of reserving the basil leaves until the end was supposed to provide a punch of fresh flavor, but simmering it forever to reduce it to the proper consistency completely undoes that.

Luckily, I had the episode saved on the DVR, and so I sat through the segment again, and the one he did on television ended up looking a lot redder than the stuff I ended up with. Also, he didn’t have the celery, used fennel seeds, didn’t add the water, used twice the amount of fresh tomatoes as the recipe on the web called for. He didn’t do the two step method, but added the vinegar and sugar during the first step.

So since I have plenty of tomatoes, I tried making a batch using the recipe he gave on the program. The end result was something more like ketchup than the recipe on the site. Redder in color, and not nearly so sweet. If you’re going to go to the trouble of making homemade ketchup — and after making it, I can’t really say it’s worth the effort — I suggest you use the following recipe, which is from the television program, as best I can remember it…

1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 cloves
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, skinned and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 or 2 red chili peppers (optional)
good pinch of pepper and salt
2.2 lbs (1 kilo) ripe tomatoes, preferably cherry, chopped
the stalks from a handful of fresh basil, leaves reserved
1 liter of Passata (or the equivalent of canned tomato puree)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup brown sugar

  • In a heavy bottom pan, sweat the chopped onion in olive oil to bring out their sweetness, for about 15 minutes.
  • Grind (in a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices) the whole coriander, fennel, and cloves, and add it to the onions.
  • Peel and chop the garlic and the ginger, and chop up the chili pepper, and add that.
  • Cut the fresh tomatoes and remove the seeds and membrane (optional), and add to the pan.
  • Add the passata/tomato puree, the basil stems (chopped) and stir in the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add the basil leaves.
  • In a blender, working in batches, whiz it all until it’s a relatively smooth consistency.
  • Force through a sieve or use a food mill to get a completely smooth and thick paste.
  • Using sterilized bottles (either run through a hot, hot dishwasher; put in an 175° oven for 30 minutes, or boiled in water for 30 minutes), as well as a sterilized funnel and ladle, spoon in the mixture until nearly full.
  • Put on the sterilized lids, and process in a hot water canning bath for 30 minutes.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. (Be sure and examine anything you’ve canned for any signs of deterioration, or spoilage, and discard it if you find any.)

Preserved Lemons

Sun, Dec 23 • 0

This is a north african condiment, sometimes served chopped as a relish, or added to a braise or roast. A strong citrusy flavor that’s very different from fresh lemons. You’ll want 8 or 9 of the lemons to be large good sized and unblemished. The rest are just for their juice, so they can be smaller and cheaper. (If you want to economize, you can use fewer juice lemons and cutting the juice with filtered bottled water.) These will last 6 or 8 months in your fridge, maybe longer, considering the amount of acid and salt you are using.

This whole procedure basically makes the pithy white part, as well as the rest of the peel, edible. It packs a lot of flavor, too. It’s a surprisingly good addition to pot roast or other braised beef recipes, and it adds a lot of flavor to roasted poultry. (You can put a whole preserved lemon in the bird’s cavity, or you can slice/chop it up and put it under the skin on the breast and legs.)

Make one jar for yourself, and give the other to a friend.

2 dozen lemons
½ c kosher salt
1 or 2 pickle jars

Run the pickle jars and lids through the dishwasher. You’ll want them piping hot (sterilized) to work with them.

Squeeze half of the lemons, straining out the seeds.

Clean 8 or 9 of the lemons, scrubbing the skin and removing the label and the stem. Deeply score the lemons, end to end, without going all the way through to the center, several times. Work some salt into the cuts you’ve made. Squeeze the lemons into the jars, generously spreading salt between the layers. When full, pour the lemon juice in to the top.

Lid, and put in the refrigerator. Let macerate for 3 or 4 weeks, turning the bottle and redistributing the salt, every couple of days. Inspect for any signs of mold or creepy crawlers.

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