When you have lots of tomatoes growing, or you can buy them cheaply, it´s fun to play around with recipes and see what you can come up with. An excellent book for anyone interested in growing their own (or who just dreams about doing it) and cooking with the “bounty” is The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
One of his recipes that I´ve played around with over the years is the one he gives for tomato ketchup. The beauty of it is that you can adjust spices and flavourings to suit what you and your loved ones enjoy. I like my ketchup spicy, so I go heavy on the chili. Some of the things he mentions in his recipe I don´t always have to hand (like mace or celery seeds) so I have changed things round just a little.
This is the Up the Mountain version, and I can highly recommend it.
3kg ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
3 sliced onions
1 large red pepper, chopped
¼ cup of celery leaves
100g brown sugar
200ml white wine vinegar (he uses cider vinegar)
¼ teaspoon of mustard powder
A stick of cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons of allspice
1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
Some freshly grated nutmeg
4 small hot chilis, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon of hot smoked pimentón (or paprika)
Sea salt to taste
You´ll need a very sturdy heavy based saucepan for this as you´ll be reducing and reducing the sauce until it gets to the right consistency.
Put tomatoes, onions, peppers, chillis and celery leaves into the pot and simmer until very soft. Put through a mouli or fine sieve and then back into the pot with the sugar, mustard powder and vinegar. Put the remaining spices apart from the salt, nutmeg and pimentón into a cloth and tie securely then drop this into the mixture. Grate a little nutmeg over and if you want more later you can add it nearer the end.
Cook the sauce slowly until it has reduced to the thickness you require. If you like you can give it a whizz with the hand blender (don´t forget to remove the spice bag first though!), then season with the salt and pimentón. You can either put it into sterilised bottles or jars (I use the small juice bottles we get here in Spain) or it will keep well in the fridge for a month or you can freeze it.
Delicious with chips (or French fries for my US pals), burgers, fish, veggies…well, pretty much anything in fact! And mixed with mayonnaise it makes a wonderful Marie Rose style sauce with a bit of a kick.