If you ever have dinner with my parents, you'll inevitably be asked "do you want ketchup?"
It doesn't matter if you are having hamburger or roast turkey, the question will be asked by My Dear Little Cardamummy. If your plate arrives without ketchup, my father will ask my Mum why she didn't give you any ketchup.
Quite honestly, I think they substitute "ketchup" for any sort of flavouring condiment: mustard, pickles, barbecue sauces, gravy, (etc). But they do seem to go through an awful lot of squeezy bottle ketchup. An awful lot.
I've never had anything but store-bought squeezy bottle ketchup, either in squeezy bottles or in little packets. I'm not a big fan--far too sweet for my liking.
When I went on my canning and preserve-making spree this year--and asked our lovely Dana for some advice. She pointed me to homecanning.com's pages for advice and recipes. And there, while perusing, I found a recipe for tomato ketchup.
Well...it was tomato season...so why not? As per my other canning adventures, I made a half-batch of ketchup.
It's a very easy process, in line with making tomato sauce--different spicing of course. Unlike storebought ketchups, this one is thickend the old fashioned way...by reducing the volume insted of using thickeners such as cornstarch.
My word...it takes a long time. And it's quite messy. Well, no...ketchup isn't messy, I'm messy. I suppose it's a good thing I didn't take my camera over...no evidence as to the reddish-orange splotches and spills all over my mum's nice white tiles.
Even my mother was getting tired of waiting. Her seemingly unending aria of "Is it done yet? Is it done yet?" came in through the doorway. I turned it into a duet, with my counterpoint of "No, it's not. No, it's not."
The diva she is (hey, I had to get it from somewhere) made the declarative statement while stomping her little feet "This takes too long and it's not worth it."
I looked at her and said "Let's see how it tastes." She harrumphed.
Well...a week later we tried it.
"Oh! This is so much better than what we get in the store. I'm glad we did this," was my Mum's response.
"It needs more sugar, " declared my (diabetic) father.
It is good ketchup. It's not too sweet and you can taste the cloves and allspice (and the hot chilli pepper I tossed in). It has pizzazz and personality. In fact I call it "the good ketchup," to be used only when it can show itself off and not just for any old hamburger or Milk Calendar Recipe.
I'll be using it judiciously this year--next year I'll make a whole batch.