JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Homemade tomato ketchup .. & caponata-ish

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall gave this recipe in his column in the Guardian a few weeks ago, and, as I've never made ketchup before, I followed the recipe exactly. Even before we tasted it, I thought you could simplify this without loss of taste. So when everyone was lukewarm about it as an accompaniment to fish and chips, I thought it might be hard to use it up.

Not a bit of it! I've now discovered that it makes the most fantastic five-minute caponata, and since aubergine is my favourite summer vegetable, that's a bonus. To make the caponata-ish, cube the aubergine, fry in olive oil till fairly soft, add some of the ketchup, a few sultanas and some capers. Simmer for a few minutes. Best eaten lukewarm, if you can wait that long.

Back to the point, this is how you make the ketchup. It's a two part recipe, first you have to roast the tomatoes (I know a better way to do this), then sieve them. When you've recovered from this (does he have a machine? I just have a sieve, a wooden spoon, and aching arms), you simmer the passata with sugar and spice.

HFW's roast tomatoes

To make one litre, use about 2kg ripe tomatoes; the more flavour they have, the better the finished ketchup. Cut them in half, put them in a single layer on a roasting sheet, and sprinkle with finely chopped garlic (two or three cloves), some thyme, and olive oil. Roast for 45-60 minutes at 180C, until they are soft and beginning to blacken at the edges. Remove from the oven, and sieve to a pulp when they are cool enough to work.

HFW's tomato ketchup

one litre roast tomato sauce
100g soft brown sugar
100 ml cider vinegar
one tbsp ground black pepper
pinch of mace
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
two bayleaves

Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn't stick. It will gradually thicken, although it won't be as thick as Heinz TK. Check your seasonings, then bottle. It will keep for a month and more in the fridge.

Here's a link to Guardian Unlimited which has HFW's original piece, Reddy Steady Cook (there's an art to writing headlines that bad!)

Good, but not as good as Heinz TK; really useful to use as the base for a quick vegetable stew; really useful if you've got a glut of tomatoes, as a change from slow roasted tomatoes preserved in oil. Alfred said he'd like it to dress pasta, but I thought it might be a little too vinegary for that.

I've just bought an old government-issue book on food preserving, which gives timings for boiling pickles and preserves to give them a long shelf life and keep them out of the fridge. It may take a while to get the equipment together, but I'll post as soon as I've got something to report.

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