How Ketchup Can be Healthy Too
Unfortunately, ketchup is the primary vegetable component in the diets of many. If you’ve watched any of Jamie Oliver’s documented attacks on the school lunch system, you know that the vegetable requirements in cafeteria lunches are frequently met with French fries and ketchup.
If the primary ingredient in most major ketchup brands were not corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, I would have less inclination to complain. I love ketchup and look for excuses to pile it on high. I have no right to boisterously claim that kids should not eat ketchup because I know that I would never give it up either; French fries are just not the same without it.
Unfortunately, despite its tomato roots, most ketchup consumed today is closer to a candy bar in nutritional value. After the processing, additives and exorbitant amount of sugar are added to the tomato base, ketchup is far from a vegetable health food. However, in tune with the tomato season and the desire to preserve as much of the abundant local produce available right now, now is a good time to try your skills at making your own ketchup at home.
Not only will the flavor of home made ketchup floor you and your kids, more nutrients, less sugar and less processing will leave you with a better food you can be proud to eat and feed to your family. While it still may not be quite as good for you as sitting down to a bowl of fresh greens, everyone loves a good burger, sausage or French fry now and again, so you might as well grace it with a flavorful and much healthier version of this American classic.
This is a great recipe that I adapted from one found on PCC’s cooking website. I adjusted the flavoring for my own taste, and I encourage you to do the same. This is a great way to extend the lifespan of the beautiful, ripe tomatoes in your farm box or at the farmers market right now!
- Ingredients for the tomato base
- 4 pounds ripe organic tomatoes, washed and stems removed
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (optional)
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic
- Spiced vinegar (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon paprika (optional)
- 2 tsp curry powder (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- For the spiced vinegar
- 1 cup apple cider or your favorite vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 stick cinnamon, crushed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks and distribute them, along with the, onion, red pepper and garlic on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the onions are lightly caramelized.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the spiced vinegar - combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute, remove from heat, and let steep for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Puree the tomatoes, onions, red pepper and garlic very finely in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve into a heavy pot.
- Strain the spiced vinegar mixture into the tomato puree (discard the whole spices), add the paprika and curry powder and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has reduced by about half and mounds in a spoon. It will thicken as it cools. Season with additional salt if needed.
- Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars with sterilized lids and refrigerate. It will keep in your refrigerator for about 1 month. (Or you may preserve it using classic canning methods.)