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Experiments in Ketchup Making

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Chevon and grilled onion sandwich with oven fried potatoes, and homemade ketchup.

We don’t eat a lot of ketchup. In fact, I’m the only one who eats it and that’s just once a week on my grilled Sunday hamburger. But with all our extra cherry tomatoes, I wanted to give ketchup making a try. I’m calling this an experiment because there is still a little tweaking I want to do. I’m putting all my notes here, so I’ll remember what I did, what I want to do differently, and why.

The recipe I used was based on a video by Living Traditions Homestead. What intrigued me was that she used whole tomatoes. She cored them, chopped them, and cooked them with with the other ingredients before running them through her Vitamix blender. What could be easier than that?

I had questions though, because I’d need to use frozen cherry tomatoes instead of large fresh ones. It seems like freezing them toughens the skins, plus, cherry tomatoes are seedier than regular size tomatoes. Would it work as well? I was willing to give it a try and see what I got.

The ingredients in the following recipe are based on the recipe in the video, but adjusted for the amount of tomatoes that I had (fresh plus thawed).


8½ lb  defrosted cherry tomatoes, drained 
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup vinegar (I used my pear vinegar)
3/4 cup sugar (originally 2/3 cup but increased after taste tasting)
1½ tbsp canning salt 
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
I simmered it all together for several hours and then allowed it to cool. Then I blended batches of it in my new blender.
First batch before blending.

The skins blended quickly but the teeny tiny seeds took some time. The process might have been quick with regular tomatoes and regular tomato seeds, but the miniature seeds were more of a challenge (and I was impatient).

After blending. Smaller batches did a much better job on the seeds.
We sampled it that night for dinner with French fries. Our cherry tomatoes are more acidic than our slicing tomatoes, so one thing we agreed on was that it needed more sweetener (notated in my recipe above). Dan didn’t mind the remaining seeds, but I didn’t like them. So, before I canned the ketchup I removed the seeds with a fine sieve and spatula.
A lot of people make their ketchup this way. I found it quicker
 and less messy than using my hand juicer (especially clean up).

To can: hot back jars leaving 1/4″ 1/2″ headspace (I had too many failed seals with 1/4″ and had to re-do those). Water bath process for 15 minutes for both pints and half-pints. My yield was 6 pints.
About a week later, I put a picking of cherry tomatoes into the dehydrator for making tomato powder.

Dried cherry tomatoes.
Tomato powder. Do you see any seeds?

The dried seeds powdered right along with the skins and pulp. Hmm. Did cooking the whole tomatoes soften the seeds so that they didn’t blend well? Or did drying them make them brittle enough to powder well? That lead to another experiment. What would happen to the seeds if I blended raw cherry tomatoes?
Fresh cherry tomatoes in the blender

After blending. Looks thick and creamy, doesn’t it?

The real test was looking for seeds!

If any little seed fragments are there, I can live with it! Plus!!!
It’s about thick enough to be sauce; just needs a little seasoning.

I’m guessing that the raw and dried seeds were firm enough to be pulverized in the blender, but the cooked down tomato seeds were too soft and slippery for some of them. Based on several videos that I watched, I don’t think that’s strictly true of larger tomatoes with larger seeds, but it seems to be true of the tiny, seedy, Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes.
Umm, so, why have I been spending hours and hours every summer juicing tomatoes, and days and days cooking down the juice to make sauce? NO MORE! This is completely changing the way I will make my pizza sauce next year! And all because I wasn’t satisfied with the way my ketchup turned out. 


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