Ketchup is a big deal in our house. My toddlers and husband use it to accent most meals. So when my mother asked if I wanted to be her assistant as she made ketchup from her homegrown tomatoes, I was ready for the exciting challenge.
Even though it isn't nearly as convenient as store-bought options, this ketchup version is incredibly flavorful and is perfect for special occasions.
*To make this recipe stand out I recommend using your own homegrown tomatoes or a variety from your local farmer's market. Thankfully, tomatoes grow very well in Texas and my father's garden had quite the selection for my son to pick from this summer. However, store bought tomatoes will always work.
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosures here.
For homemade ketchup you will need:
To start, bring a large pot with water to boil on the stove.
Score the freshly washed tomatoes at the bottom with an X.
Then place your tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place in the hand strainer.
Using the hand strainer, place the tomatoes into the sink to cool off. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to touch, peel and de-core them. Throw your tomato scraps away, put them in the compost pile, or give them to the chickens like my mother did.
Next, roughly chop up the tomatoes. Try to keep the tomato juice intact so the tomatoes keep their naturally sweet flavor. Then mince the onions, bell peppers, and garlic.
Mix the tomatoes with the juice, onions, bell peppers, and garlic into a large pot. Bring the tomato mixture to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, and the flavor from the vegetables has seeped into the tomato juice.
Once the vegetables are soft, remove the pot from the stove.
Place the cone strainer over a large bowl. Using a spoon add the cooked tomato mixture to the cone strainer. Then take the wooden pestle and start to press the mixture into the strainer to extract the flavorful juices from the vegetables. Once you have extracted all of the juice from the tomato mixture, dispose of the vegetables through a compost pile, chicken scraps, or the trash.
Wash out the large pot that was used to cook down the vegetables, and place the tomato juice from the strainer into the pot. Bring the flavorful juice to a boil, then simmer the juice for about 30 minutes or until it is about half the size of what it once was.
While the tomato juice reduces, prepare the spice bag. Wrap the cinnamon sticks, whole black peppercorn, cayenne pepper, whole cloves, whole allspice, paprika, and celery seeds inside the cheesecloth. Then tie a string around the top to secure the spices.
Place the spice bag into the tomato mixture with a spoon. Then add the distilled white vinegar and brown sugar into the pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Then let the mixture simmer for about an hour as the tomato juice continues to reduce and intensify in flavor. Occasionally stir the mixture so the bottom doesn't burn.
As the hour passes the smells from the pot will continue to intensify as the flavors brighten. Your kitchen will be filled with a lovely, yet intense spicey fragrance.
While your tomato turns into ketchup, clean your glass jars and lids with warm water and soap.
Once the ketchup has reduced, take the spoon and remove the spice bag and discard the spice bag. Remove the ketchup from the heat.
Place the clean jar on top of a plate (to avoid extra mess) and add the funnel to the top of the jar. Use a glass cup to fill the jar with hot ketchup.
*Fill the jar to about 3/4 inch to the top with hot ketchup.
Clean the rim with a wet washcloth. Then tighten the new lid. Seal the jar by turning it upside down. Then place the jar right side up, and the jar will vacuum seal once you hear the lid pop. If you don't hear a pop, then you need to add a different lid and try the process over.
Label the top of the lid with the month and the year. Then store the jars in a cool, dry place. If stored properly, your hard-earned ketchup should last about two years unopened.
Opened jars will last in the refrigerator for several months.
I hope you enjoy this special treat alongside your favorite dishes.