Making good condiments is a fundamentally cheap and lazy thing to do. Once you have them, even the simplest of snacks can be transformed. If you have 30 minutes free this week, spend it making your own ketchup. It’s easy, lasts ages, and is totally delicious. I don’t even like ketchup that much – I’d usually go for mayonnaise or hot sauce instead (Dunn River Jamaican since you’re asking). I might put it in a bacon sandwich, or occasionally with a sausage – that’s as much facetime as Heinz gets. But this stuff is so fantastically unctuous and zingy that I end up putting it places it really shouldn’t go (like down my shirt).
I take as my base the Hawksmoor Ketchup recipe, which is a pretty simple one. The flavour text (which is excellent throughout their cookbook) is a great exploration on what ketchup can be:
“Until Americans like Henry Heinz got involved and the tomato version stole the show they came in a range of flavours, including mushroom, walnut, onion, cucumber and even beer, many staying true to their fermented fishy origins with the addition of minced anchovies or oysters”
I’m still shy of adding in sea critters for worry of affecting storage potential, although a splash of already-fermented fish sauce should keep just fine, and as I write this I think I’ll try that it my next batch. It makes sense, given its Asian origins and likely name (in Indonesian ‘kecap’ means sauce – most commonly seen in Europe in its sweet soy variant, ‘kecap manis’). Jamie adds fennel (which sounds like a good match given how well star anise fits), Nigel Slater goes for Szechuan peppercorns (definitely a good idea), and I’ve seen smoked chipotle chillis used. All worth trying. But see this as a starting point and diving board into a ketchupy vat of umami deliciousness. For now, let’s keep it vegetarian (hell, it doesn’t happen often) and simple.
- 1.2kg tinned tomatoes (decent ones if you can)
- 200g tomato purée
- 300g tinned pears (apples will do)
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 200g fruit sugar (this is what Hawksmoor use, but a little more brown sugar would be fine, and probably cheaper!)
- 60g salt
- 250ml white wine vinegar
- 8 whole peppercorns
- 1 whole star anise
- 3 cloves
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- Add all ingredients except peppercorns, star anise and cloves to a large pan and mix.
- Bundle remaining spices into muslin (or similar) and tie with string, and add.
- Bring to boil and then drop to simmer for 2 hours (or until it's quite thick - it will thicken more later), giving the odd stir.
- Using a sieve, or preferably a chinois and pestle, push all of the hot ketchup through. This is the most labour intensive step, and probably takes 10-15 minutes.
- At this point, if you want to to keep your ketchup for more than a few weeks (before opening), then follow these instructions. Otherwise, thoroughly clean and immerse 1.5 litres of glass bottles or jars in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilise.
- Fill bottles or jars while still hot (both the ketchup and the glass), put lids on and leave to cool. Finally label and consume.