When I moved into my first apartment in Chicago after college, I rented a ‘junior studio’ one block from Lake Michigan. My 400-square-foot prison cell had views of a back alley and a layout which allowed me to stand in 3 rooms simultaneously. Upon seeing the size of the refrigerator, I was convinced the building supervisor had played a cruel joke on me. It looked custom built for Lilliputians. Besides my Brita filter and an occasional bag of apples, I couldn’t fit much more into it.
I got used to having an anemic, sparsely filled refrigerator, even as I moved to larger apartments fitted with normal, human-sized ones that could accommodate many more items. This all changed when the chest-pounding, ooga-ooga, love of my life, moved in with his worldly possessions in tow. Overnight, my scanty refrigerator was suddenly packed with a rainbow assortment of jars and bottles filled with condiments I never even knew existed.
One of his most cherished bottles contained what he calls ‘red sauce’, or more commonly known to anyone outside of Ireland as ketchup. Given the eerie, unnatural brightness and shelf life capacity of the stuff from the Heinz family, I felt compelled to concoct my own for him. And boy, oh boy, I’m so glad I did. After making this homemade ketchup, you’ll never buy another bottle of Heinz again (plus, it’ll fit much easier in your refrigerator).
Adapted from Saveur, yields about 2 cups
The best part of making your own homemade ketchup is that you can tweak it to your heart’s content – spicier, sweeter, thicker, saltier – the possibilities are endless and those summer backyard bbq’s will be taken to new heights. Oh, and don’t forget the homemade mustard!
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp celery seeds
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp whole allspice
- 2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 anaheim chile, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, celery seeds, red pepper flakes, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, sugar, onion, and chile; smash and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until onions and chiles are very soft, 40 minutes.
Remove spice bundle; purée sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.
Transfer ketchup to a glass jar. Set aside; let cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.