Adventures In Ketchup and a Glorious Use for Fresh Corn!

Why would anyone want to make their own ketchup? I mean, it’s on sale at the store for less than $2.00 a bottle. A couple of reasons: vinegar (one of the main ingredients) and plastic are not a good mix; if you make it yourself, you know exactly what is in it; it sounded like fun. Yes, I’m weird. 🙂

Having never made ketchup before, I gotta admit I fully expected it to be an Epic Failure. It smelled so weird- really, downright gross- when it was cooking that I felt sure the result was going to be a gigantic insult to the previously perfectly ripe and delicious tomatoes. I couldn’t have been more wrong- It’s fantastic! After sitting in the fridge overnight, it’s even better. I am still shocked at how delicious it turned out! Happy dance!

I made fresh organic corn fritters last night, served with the newly cooked ketchup.I’m posting both recipes because, having never made fresh corn fritters, my taste buds were seriously zinging with joy. BTW, someone suggested corn fritters would make a good alternative breakfast item and having personally tested their hypothesis, I couldn’t agree more. Both recipes get bonus points for being super-easy. Note: This ketchup does not taste like “Famous Brand” we all think of when we think of ketchup. It’s spicier and faintly chutney-like, which makes sense given the origins of modern-day ketchup. Also, this ketchup recipe is not the slick-smooth sauce from the store. If you want yours to be really (really) smooth, you will have to strain the tomatoes after they cook to remove all the skins, seeds, whatever. Frankly, that sounds like too much work to me. Besides, I like the thicker texture. Different but very good.

Adventuresome (Spicy) Ketchup
5 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 minced red jalapenos or 3 large cayenne peppers, cleaned and seeded
Note: I used one red jalapeno and 4 fresh cayenne peppers, cleaned and seeded. I like food moderately spicy and it turned out perfectly.
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 T. sea salt
1 t. ground cayenne pepper
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground mace
1 T. garlic powder or 10 large fresh cloves, minced
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
2 t. dry mustard or 2 T. fresh whole-grain mustard
1 t. whole peppercorns, crushed
1 t. ground turmeric
1 1/2 t. ground long pepper*

Rinse the tomatoes gently and remove stems. If they are large, cut the into chunks roughly one inches square. (Doesn’t have to be exact.)

Put the tomatoes, peppers and onions into a large stainless steel stock pot and place over moderate heat for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened and started to break down. Using a stick/immersion blender, blend through the hot mixture until it is smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, process the tomato-mixture in batches in a blender. If you want your ketchup to be super-smooth, this is where you strain the tomato mixture through cheesecloth removing as much skin and seeds as possible. The mixture will look watery at this point.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot with the tomatoes in no particular order and give it a good stir. Cook the mixture over a moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half or it achieves the desired consistency. This can take up to three hours. Be careful to watch the mixture toward the end so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pot. If you are concerned about scorching, turn down the heat. Expect it to smell really weird when cooking. That’s normal. When deciding if the mixture has reached the right consistency, keep in mind it will thicken as it cools.

After it cools, place into clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator. The ketchup will keep for at least a month due to the vinegar. Makes 2 to 3 cups. really good immediately after reaching desired consistency. Really good the next day after the flavors have had time to meld.

Quick Fresh Corn Fritters
Makes ten to twelve 2 1/2″ to 3″ fritters

2 large ears of corn, shucked and the kernels cut off with a sharp knife (Be careful!)
1 large egg
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/3 c. milk or half-and-half (can substitute rice milk)
Pinch of salt and fresh-ground pepper
1 T. of chopped fresh parsley
1 T. fresh chopped basil
3 T. fresh finely minced yellow onion
olive oil

Put the fresh corn into a medium bowl. Add all the ingredients into the bowl and give the whole thing a good stir. Yes, technically you should add the wet ingredients and stir well, then add the dry (yadda yadda), but I just chucked everything in and using a fork, mixed it all together. It worked just fine! Note: I sauteed the minced onion in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil before adding them into the corn mixture. Optional, not mandatory.

Heat a large heavy skillet over a medium flame until moderately hot. Add in a small amount of olive oil and swirl it around the pan. Using a large spoon, drop the corn mixture into the pan spreading the mixture out a bit so it has a more uniform thickness. You are going for a “pancake” look. When the first side has achieved a golden brown crust, flip them over and repeat. Continue till the batter is completely used adding more olive oil as needed. Serve hot with spicy ketchup.

Now tell me, isn’t this a glorious use for fresh corn? Yum!

*Long pepper is not a spice we are accustomed to seeing at the store. It has a faintly citrusy flavor and is deliciously addictive! It can be purchased from the following vendors or call around to specialty foodie stores in your community.


4 thoughts on “Adventures In Ketchup and a Glorious Use for Fresh Corn!

    • Not really. However, it cooked for a good three hours which must have broken down the capsaicin because earlier in the cooking process it about singed off my lips. It’s really not very hot at all. If you are worried, just don’t put much or any hot peppers in at all. Try using sweet red bell peppers instead and please let me know how it turns out. I love hearing about other folk’s food adventures. 🙂

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