Canning Homemade Ketchup

When I told my friend Lisa I was planning to make homemade ketchup she said “Don’t you think you’re getting a little bit carried away with this whole Martha Stewart thing? I mean, who makes their own ketchup?”

I do. Or at least I want to. I would love to make almost everything we eat from scratch so that I could control exactly what goes into it. Unfortunately that would require more time and resources than I’m privileged enough to have.

So I figure if I can cut out the HFCS, chemicals and GMOs where I can, that might balance out the times when I just eat crap.

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I ordered a case of tomatoes from my CSA. They were not the best tomatoes in the world as it’s a little early for them but they were good enough for a practice run. It would be better to use Roma or another meaty sauce tomato and get them when they are in season so they are at the height of their deliciousness.

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Prepping the tomatoes took the longest. I washed them all and scored their bottoms with a sharp knife, cutting only through the skin.
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Then I dropped them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and scooped them into a bowl of ice water. The skins peeled right off. I reserved the skins for other purposes.
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Once peeled, I cored them and squeezed the seeds and guts into a bowl topped with a strainer. I had plans for the juice too.
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When I was done, I had three bowls of tomato matter. One colander full of tomato flesh, one bowl of skins and one of juice.
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I then made a spice bag out of cheese cloth and filled it with bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole allspice, pepper corns and mustard seeds. I dropped in a small saucepan, covered it with 2 cups apple cider vinegar and brought to a boil. I let it simmer for ten minutes and turned it off, letting it steep till the tomatoes were ready.
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To a large stock pot, I added the tomatoes, a chopped onion, a chopped red pepper, a few cloves of garlic and a handful of celery leaves. I brought it all to a boil and then let it simmer for an hour. I fished the celery leaves out because it was smelling too celery-y.
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I perched a food mill over another pot and ladled the mixture into it a bit at a time. I cranked the handle until only solids were left in the mill, then tossed them in the compost.
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I added the seasoned vinegar, a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup salt and let reduce for 4 hours. During this time I put the skins in my dehydrator and let them dry all day.
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When the ketchup was getting close to ready I washed and sterilized my pint jars, lids and rings. I put water in my canner and turned the burner up to high. I put the lids in another small saucepan of water and turned them on to simmer.
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When the water in the canner started boiling I ladled the hot ketchup into the hot, sterile jars with the help of my jar funnel. I left 1/4″ headspace. I got 4 pints of ketchup and 2 of tomato juice. I added some citric acid to the juice because I was planning to process these in a water bath rather than a pressure canner.
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I then carefully wiped off the rims of the jars with a paper towel dipped in hot water, lifted the lids out of the simmering pan with my magnetic wand and positioned them solidly on the jars. I put the rings on and screwed them just fingertip-tight.
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Using my jar lifter, I gently placed them in the canner so that they were not touching, put the lid on and waited for the canner to be ready (mine has a dial that tells me when to start timing.)
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I set the clock for 30 minutes. When the time was up, I cracked the lid open away from me so I wouldn’t be burned by the steam and lifted the jars out onto a clean dish towel.

I waited for the “ping” of a successful seal.

When they were sealed and cool, I wiped off the jars of ketchup, removed the rings and labeled them.

When the skins were dry and crispy I ground them up into powder to use as a thickener or for a little extra zip in soups and sauces.

So, in the end I had 4 pints of ketchup, 2 pints of juice and a jar full of tomato powder. It took all day. Was it worth it? I’m not sure. I’m a little disappointed because I tasted the ketchup before it was processed and found it to be a bit too sweet and too salty. That’s pretty much the opposite of what I was going for.

But this was my first try. Next time I’ll use less salt, honey instead of sugar and add them both after reducing rather than before. I’ll also start with a lot more tomatoes. If I’m going to spend all day making it, I want a bigger payoff.

It was fun though and I got to use my new food mill and I can’t wait to make veggie sloppy Joes with my homemade ketchup!

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3 thoughts on “Canning Homemade Ketchup

  1. Pingback: Homemade Hamburger Buns and Veggie Sloppy Joe’s | Wild Rarebit

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