If you’re like us, living in temperate parts of North America, you may also be getting creative with how you’re using up the number of tomatoes taking over your fridge.
As soon as we had our first couple of frosts, I went to work pulling off all the tomatoes that I could get my hands on. Including the greenest of tomatoes, with the exception of those that look too – what I coin – “leathery” and don’t offer up much hope of ripening.
In order to help those that I did pull off ripen, I lay them out and put them under one of our grow lights that we use for starting seeds in the spring. Slowly and surely they all started to turn, and when they did, off they went into the fridge.
This year we grew several different varieties, but out of what we grew, all we had left was some of our sweeties (not an heirloom, but a couple of plants had been gifted to us, due to lack of space in the gardens they were intended for), peach slicers, purple cherokees, and a couple cosmos.
I had just finished using up all of our cherry tomatoes (we grew the red currant variety), by adding them to a triple batch I had made of my favourite doctored-up “Killer Vegan Chilli” recipe. Safe to say, these little suckers made for a fun and flavourful pop with every spoonful. Though, for how much I use cherry tomatoes (or don’t use, I should say), I don’t know how much I love growing them, since they’re a whole heck of a lot of work to pluck! And I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to waste anything, so I was there until the very last little guy. Though I’m sure Winnie would have something to say about that, since she just loves eating them right off the vine. With training, I should add, since at first, she went straight to eating them right out of my hard-earned basket!
So, needless to say, this abundance of tomatoes lead me to making all sorts of things, and now I’m making ketchup!
Sidenote, if you have any suggestions of how I can use up the large amount of tomatoes I still have to preserve, please do share the comments below!
Having never made ketchup before, I looked up a few recipes and found one that looked pretty straight-forward, with enough reviews to trust it’d turn out okay. As I do with most recipes, I almost always modify them using whatever I have on hand instead of what they suggest. Opting for substitutes whenever I can and fresh ingredients above all.
The recipe I found was pretty simple for the most part, though the suggested 12 hours of cooking down on a slow cooker seemed a bit like overkill. However I was home all day, so I decided to give it a try anyway, since well, I’m no expert here.
The recipe suggested two 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes, but of course, I’m opting for fresh instead. Which worked out to be a total of 7 cups of diced tomatoes. I then put them in a pot and puréed them using an immersion blender. Afterward, I strained the tomatoes, composting the seeds and skin, working with what was left. Which, in my case, looked like a light-coloured tomato soup (the colour, mostly in part due to having to use the peach slicers, which as you can imagine, are yellow).
With the soup-like mixture left over, I put it in the slow cooker with all of the other ingredients listed below and turned it on high. It was here, that I too quickly skimmed the recipe, without realizing I should’ve kept the lid off this entire time. So, it wasn’t until hours later, that I realized after having it not thicken as much as I had hoped, that I realized I should’ve had a lid off in order to get rid of all the excess liquid. So, keep that lid off, folks! Or, if you skimmed this like I did and are now just reading it back to see where you went wrong, you can always add in some cornstarch, flour, or any other thickening agent you have on hand. I had arrowroot powder, so I made a slurry (a small amount of milk with arrowroot powder whisked together, which I then added to the mixture). Doing this a couple of times until it reached the desired thickness.
Just before I was finished (roughly 6 hours, instead of 12), I decided to add in a couple cans of tomato purée, just to get the colour I was hoping for. However, depending on your tomatoes, it isn’t likely that you’ll have to do this unless you’re using a variety of coloured tomatoes, as well.
Also, I should add, that most recipes include sugar. But since my tomatoes had been so ripe already, the mixture in and of itself was sweet enough. Plus, I don’t like to add extra sugar unless absolutely necessary!
Once I was happy with the color, consistency, and overall taste I turned off the slow cooker and sterilized my jars in preparation to can them.
You may read all sorts of things about how to sterilize cans on the internet, including this one, but personally, I just wash my jars really well, and throw them in the oven at 275 for 10 minutes. Which, has served me well so far!
Using a canning funnel (I highly suggest buying one of these if you haven’t got one already, they make your life a whole lot easier), I poured the ketchup into what made up 3 x 250ml jars and 2 x 500ml jars. I then wiped the rims off, and put the lids and bands on.
I then sat all of my jars in my water bath canner, filling it with water until there was about an inch worth of head space above the jars. Putting the lid on, I then began to boil the water, and once it came to a boil (this could take up to a half an hour, especially if you have an old stove like we do), I let it roll for 20 minutes.
Once my timer went off, I used my canning jar lifter to take them out, then sat them down on a towel that I had laid out on the kitchen counter. After they all popped (meaning they’ve sealed properly), I let them cool before storing them on the shelf. Now… I have no idea how long the jars will last but I’ll keep you posted! Typically, I always use up the jars before they even make it close to expiry, and maybe you will too!
So with that, happy ketchup canning, friends!
- 7 cups pureed tomatoes (strained of seeds and skin)
- 3/4 cup white vinegar (I love Allens!)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp celery powder
- 1/8 tsp mustard powder
… and that’s it!