Early on in my canning adventures and when my tomato plants were about to provide me a ton of produce all at once, I decided to try making homemade ketchup. It was a fermentation recipe, where after going through the preparation process, it sat out so biology could do its thing. Well, it did, but not what I wanted it to do. Two of the four of my jars molded. I was afraid to try the others, but I did, and it was completely tasteless. I was so glad I used store-bought tomatoes for this failed batch.
I made the executive decision not to sacrifice homegrown tomatoes when I tried it again … many months later. It took me a while to build up my courage. This time I decided to go with a more traditional, water bath canner recipe that I found on Mother Earth News (yet another of my off-the-beaten-track sites that I adore).
Every thing started out great. I peeled the tomatoes and cooked them down with some onions and tomatoes. I then got to use my new-to-me food mill.
It was generously donated by DH2U‘s mom, and it had been her grandmother’s. I am taking extra special care of it.
What really threw me for a loop is that I was now looking at tomato juice (you can see the bowl in the background of the picture). The first time I made ketchup, it involved a crockpot, and it cooked into a thick paste. I don’t know why I expected that thickness after running it through the mill, but I did.
Back to the heat my juice went. The recipe said it will be a heaping teaspoon after cooking for about an hour. Nope. Much like with my strawberry jam, it was defying the laws of thermodynamics. It did not set up until the 2 hour mark!
Finally, I was ready to can it. Into the jars it went. Well, “jars” is a bit generous. Nine pounds of tomatoes produced less than a pint of ketchup! All that time and effort, and I had less than two full jars as a result. One didn’t have enough in it to reach the required head space, so that one had to go into the fridge when done.
A few weeks later, I made a ketchup-delivery-mechanism meal and pulled out my fridge jar. With some hesitation, I tried it. YUMMY! Okay, it is so much better than the stuff you buy in a store. By the time we got the end of the first jar, I’d forgotten how hard the making of it was, and started contemplating making it again.
Now that I know it will work, and work well, I can see myself doing it again next year. Maybe even with homegrown fruit!
Have you ever made your own condiments? Isn’t it amazing how much better homegrown produce is than the stuff in the store? Has your food ever refused to follow the laws of physics?