I once read that cooking with a new ingredient or making something you've never made before is a good exercise for your brain. Makes sense. I've taken that to heart! So, when I saw the gorgeous tomatoes in my CSA box this afternoon, I had a flash of inspiration: I've never made homemade ketchup. It'd be a perfect way to challenge my brain and make an unprocessed condiment. Though I buy organic ketchup made without high fructose corn syrup, and I know that I could make ketchup, I never have. Tonight I changed that.
There seem to be a myriad of homemade ketchup recipes. Joy the Baker's Curry Ketchup, Date Ketchup from MarocMama, and a Blackberry Ketchup from a chef in North Carolina all caught my eye. The formulae seemed very similar: tomatoes + sweetener + seasoning. So I decided to forge ahead on my own with combination of herbs and spices. And, being that I'm a little starstruck with vanilla at the moment, I added some of that!
15-20 medium sized tomatoes
1 T crushed garlic
5 T white balsamic vinegar
5 T blue agave
one vanilla bean, split down the middle and separated into caviar + pod
splash of pure vanilla extract
freshly ground sea salt
You have skin the tomatoes which is sort of like trying to deseed a strawberry...unless you do these two easy steps first. Bring water to a boil and submerge your tomatoes - whole - into the water. Let sit for two minutes.
Quickly plunge the tomatoes into ice water. They can sit in there for as long as you like.
Now you can score the skin and easily peel the skin off! Piece of cake.
Cube your tomatoes and place them in a saucepan with a splash of olive oil. Once they begin to soften, use a potato masher to create a chunky sauce. Note: I like my sauces chunky - and I don't mind seeds - so I didn't pass this through a sieve. You could do that at this point, if you want a smooth ketchup. Add in all of the ingredients except the vinegar, agave, and salt and continue to simmer until the ketchup thickens. Add in the vinegar and agave and cook until it's the consistency that you want. Season with salt to taste.
I can't wait to try this tomorrow with some barbequed lamb sausages.