When I recently made hot sauce at home, it set into motion a cycle of sorts. It egged me on to make more sauces, jams, spice mixes and pickles at home. I have been loving my time in the kitchen, experimenting with stuff like these. Some time ago, I made a batch of tomato ketchup at home, following my mom’s recipe – every time I use it, I’m struck anew by how lovely it is. I’m here today to share with you all our recipe for Home-Made Tomato Ketchup.
Of Home-Made Tomato Ketchup And Fond Memories
Making the ketchup brought back memories of Amma sitting beside a small gas stove on winter days, making it in a huge vat. Tomatoes would be inexpensive in the winter months, back then in Ahmedabad, and Appa would bring home bags full of them. I was a teenager then, rather fond of dunking everything I ate in ketchup, as was Appa. Thanks to a cooking show on television, Amma started making Home-Made Tomato Ketchup, so we could stop buying it off departmental store shelves.
I never really bothered to learn from Amma the way she made the ketchup – I just assumed that it was a long and laborious process. After moving to Bangalore, I started buying store-bought ketchup, but would never really have the heart to eat it or let my family do so. The long list of uncalled-for ingredients on the back of the bottle – flavour enhancers, corn syrup, preservatives, acidity regulators, stabilisers and what not – would always, always be niggling in the back of my mind. I’m so glad I finally got around to checking with Amma about her recipe for Home-Made Tomato Ketchup, after all these years!
Things you should know about Home-Made Tomato Ketchup
1. There’s no long and laborious process involved, as I had assumed. Making ketchup is the easiest thing ever!
2. Home-made tomato ketchup is so much more fresh, so much more flavourful than a store-bought version. I know many who don’t want to make ketchup at home because they use it very occasionally but, trust me, once you make it yourself, you will love it so much that you will want to use it more. You’ll actually want to cook with this tomato ketchup.
3. The home-made tomato ketchup recipe I have shared here includes onion and garlic, as well as refined sugar and white vinegar. You may skip the onion and garlic if you want to, but I’ve never tried it that way. Honestly, the onion and garlic add a lovely flavour to the ketchup, and I would highly recommend using them. The sugar can be substituted for a healthy sweetener, but that might affect the colour of the ketchup. The white vinegar acts as a preservative too, so I wouldn’t recommend skipping it.
4. I have used green chillies, cloves, cinnamon and a bay leaf to flavour the tomato ketchup. You can use your own choice of flavouring agents – cardamom, star anise, garam masala.. just let your imagination run wild. I prefer using just the natural flavouring agents mentioned in the recipe. Make sure you use only a very little quantity of these whole spices, otherwise they can have an overpowering effect on the ketchup.
5. With home-made tomato ketchup, you know exactly what ingredients go in. There are no fillers, no artificial colouring or flavouring agents, except for the vinegar.
6. The quality of tomatoes you use affects the taste of the home-made ketchup greatly. For best results, use the more tart country (Nati) tomatoes, rather than the ‘farm’ variety. Use ripe, firm tomatoes with no obvious blemishes on them, especially when they are in season and fresh.
7. Considering there are no preservatives added to this Home-Made Tomato Ketchup, it needs to be kept refrigerated at all times for a good shelf life. Stored in a refrigerator and used hygienically, the ketchup stays for about 2 months. I prefer making it in small batches and using it within 2 months or so.
8. I store the ketchup refrigerated in a clean, sun-dried glass bottle. I do not sterilise the bottle before use, but you may if you want to.
9. I have used white vinegar in the ketchup, but you can use a darker version too. Use good-quality vinegar. If you can find naturally brewed vinegar, use it. I prefer using a non-odorous variety – balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar have an odour to them, which I don’t prefer in the ketchup.
10. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, sugar and vinegar as per personal taste preferences. The quantities mentioned in the recipe work perfectly for our tastebuds.
11. Use a large heavy-bottomed pan so the tomatoes can cook well and evenly, without burning. You could even use the base of a large, 7-10 litre pressure cooker – that’s what I do. Avoid overcrowding the pan; allow enough space for the ingredients to cook and loosen up in the pan.
12. For 1 kg of tomatoes, I used 2 not-so-hot green chillies, and that was just perfect for us. You could also use any variety of chillies you prefer – Fresno chillies, jalapenos, dry red chillies. I have also seen some people using red chilli powder in Home-Made Tomato Ketchup. I prefer using regular green chillies, though.
13. This Home-Made Tomato Ketchup can be used immediately after making but, really, it takes about a day for the flavours to meld together and settle.
Home-Made Tomato Ketchup recipe
Here’s how I made the tomato ketchup at home.
Ingredients (yields 600-700 grams):
1. 1 kg tomatoes
2. 1 medium-sized onion
3. 2 green chillies
4. 6-7 cloves garlic
5. A small piece of cinnamon, about 1/2 inch
6. 2 clove
7. 1 bay leaf
8. 3/4 cup sugar or as needed
9. 1 tablespoon salt
10. 1/2 cup white vinegar
1. Chop the tomatoes roughly, into small cubes.
2. Peel the onion and garlic cloves. Chop roughly.
3. Remove the tops from the green chillies. Slit them lengthwise.
4. Take the chopped onion, garlic and tomatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the slit green chillies and the bay leaf (torn into two). Crush the cinnamon and cloves roughly, using a mortar and pestle, and add them to the pan too. Place the pan on high heat.
5. The pan will soon get heated up and the veggies inside will start cooking. Turn the flame down to medium, at this stage. Continue to cook on medium flame for about 20 minutes, or till the tomatoes turn mushy and liquidy. Keep stirring intermittently, to prevent clumping and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
6. Add in salt and sugar. Mix well. Cook on high flame for 2 more minutes. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Switch off gas, and allow the mixture to cool down fully.
7. When the tomato mixture has fully cooled down, fish out the bay leaves and discard them. Don’t miss this – it’s important to make sure the bay leaves are removed at this stage, as they don’t get ground very well.
8. Grind the tomato mixture to a smooth puree in a mixer jar, in 2-3 batches. Add in the vinegar little by little, while grinding each batch. Transfer the puree to a large vessel.
9. Now, little by little, pass the puree through a sieve that is not very fine. Use a spoon to stir the puree and ensure that all the liquid gets out of it – collect it in a large vessel. Silky smooth, thick liquid will get collected in the vessel – that’s your Home-Made Tomato Ketchup. Solid residue – any parts that haven’t got pureed well – will remain in the sieve. Discard the residue.
10. Fill the ketchup in a clean, dry glass bottle. Store refrigerated when not in use.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!