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Friday, 21 August 2009

Homemade Tomato Ketchup and a dash of romance

As usual I am realising my excesses... 50+ tomato plants is a wee bit OTT to supply one single female who doesn't even like eating them raw.

I have about 40 Moneymaker plants which are normal size tomatoes, 10 Tumbling Toms which are cherry toms (can't remember the exact name), 5 Gardener's Delight plants (more cherry toms but climbers), 2 plants given to me by a friend who used seeds from the Irish Seed Savers, and a few strays (no idea what kind) which have self seeded into the tunnel's soil from last summer. After an early setback where I unknowingly deprived the poor little dears of nitrogen, they are now rampaging happily around the tunnel reproducing like mad.

Hence, all my friends and relatives are going to be receiving tomato ketchup for xmas this year... with a cute little red bow on each bottle of course.

Lucky I also like pasta sauce... I find I use it for no end of meals, including lasagne and spaghetti bolognaise, as well as those heavenly burrito thingamys they have in southern parts of the states, or is it Mexico ? Yummy.

And of course I also put it on pasta.

Naturally amid all this bounty and frenzied cooking and preserving, I have become rather a recluse, for want of a better word... Who could possibly want a wild social life when she can spend her evenings making jam, preserving various vegetables and writing this blog.

Well into this domestic bliss has snook a white knight in shining armour, who has declared that he's whisking the aforementioned blog writer off for a day of nature appreciation and good food. Will the tomatoes manage without me for a few hours ? Will the donkeys choose this moment to go walkies up the road yet again ? Will I ever be the same again ? Do I wear wellies or high heels ?

For the answers to these questions I am afraid that you will have to wait until next Tuesday... Meanwhile, here is the Tomato Ketchup recipe I promised you.

Sophii's Tomato Ketchup

16 large Tomatoes (about 4kg), chopped
4 Onions (600g), chopped
2 cups (440g) white Sugar
2 tablespoons Tomato Puree (paste)
12 Cloves (whole)
2 teaspoons Black Peppercorns (whole)
2 bay leaves
1 cup (250ml) Red Wine Vinegar
4 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1. Have a small of muslin and pile the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves in the middle. Tie the ends to make a small herb bag.

2. Put the tomatoes, onions, and the muslin herb bag into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to the boil.

3. Once boiling, turn down the heat until the mix is just simmering, uncovered, for around 45 minutes. Make sure the onion is soft, if not simmer a bit longer. Remember to stir it now and then.

4. Take out the muslin herb bag. Let the mix cool for about 10 minutes.

5. Use a blender (a hand one will do) to blend the mixture into a smooth consistency.

6. Strain through a fairly fine sieve, and then return the mix to the pan. This part is important.

7. Add the rest of the ingredients.

8. Return to the heat and stir gently, until the sugar is dissolved. DO NOT let it boil.

9. Simmer the ketchup, uncovered, for 15 minutes maybe more, until it thickens to the consistency that you like your ketchup. This process is called reducing. Remember to stir it now and then to stop the mix sticking to the bottom of the pan.

10. When thickened, pour the ketchup into pre-sterilised glass bottles or jars, and put the lids on straight away whilst they are very hot.

This should store for at least 6 months in a cool place, maybe more, without light if possible. Once you open a bottle, keep it in the fridge.

Tomorrow - Onion Marmalade (as I have a thing about marmalade...)

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