Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homemade Honey Sweetened Ketchup

Tomatoes threaten to overtake our entire kitchen at present. 

(Same song, second verse?)

In addition to those included in our weekly CSA delivery, I'm also harvesting from our two community garden plots, and recently my friend and CSA-share-splitter Allison visited the farm to pick up our 50 lb "Salsa Time" stash.

So, what to do at 11pm on a work-night when I should be sleeping or making progress on freelance projects? Make ketchup, of course! (ha.) But seriously, it's so delicious, it's by far worth the time (and during tomato season, I can only take so much pasta sauce).

Since it's such a simple recipe (very easy to make once you've rounded up the ingredients), I quadrupled the batch. I found it easier to keep batches spread between different pots to keep the heat/surface area consistent.

Regular ol’ Tomato Ketchup (but better)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
5 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods (crushed)
1 star anise
10 black peppercorns
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes I blanched and slipped the skins off fresh tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 Tablespoons neutral vegetable oil I used refined coconut oil, since I had it on hand
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar I used a combination of honey and molasses
1/2 cup champagne vinegar I used apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hungarian paprika

1. Using a piece of cheesecloth (or an empty tea bag), tie the cinnamon, bay, cloves, cardamom, anise, and peppercorns into a bundle. Set aside. {I didn't get that fancy. I just threw the spices in and fish out the remnants at the end}

2. Pour tomatoes and their juice into a food processor or blender. Puree until totally smooth, and set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the remainder, add the onion and puree.

3. In a large dutch oven (this will splatter so use a large tall pot), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion puree and the 2 teaspoons of salt and stir well. Cook for 8-10 minutes, letting the puree reduce and lightly brown. Add the tomato, sugar and vinegar, turn heat to a low simmer, and reduce for about 15 minutes uncovered, with an occasional stir. Add the spice bundle and reduce for 10 minutes more, with an occasional stir. When it’s done reducing, it should be a little thinner than commercial ketchup. Stir in paprika, taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. {Don't be afraid to let it cook longer. The more liquid that boils off, the thicker the final consistency}

4. Let ketchup cool and remove the spice bundle. {Ha! See above note about fishing.} Pour into a jar and chill overnight, or at least for 6 hours.

Will store in fridge for up to 2 months.

To can: ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 headspace and process in a water-bath canner for 15 minutes (more at higher elevations).

For those of you who make it in your own kitchen -- I hope you enjoy. It's a favorite staple in our house, and I'll be the first to say that it gives any high-end restaurant a run for its money...

One of my top memories last year was serving it alongside kale & egg cups when we had our good friends Alyssa and Bryan over for breakfast.

Ketchup? For breakfast? Yes. It's that good.


This recipe has been submitted at the Weekend Gourmet Blog Roundup.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Season: Our Food Life Calendar

Summer bade farewell to the Rose City this past week (judging by the weather, if not the autumnal equinox), and with the appearance of fall comes the influx of ripened tomatoes, the returning allure of the oven, and a reminder of the until-recently too-hot-to-cook stash of pastured meat in the back of the freezer...tangible reminders of our seasonal food life.

Over the past years of experimenting and learning to purchase and cook in ways informed by natural cycles of "springtime and harvest," I've transitioned to conceptualizing my household food budget as spread out over the entirety of the four seasons rather than isolated to individual weeks or months.

{ Our Yearly Food Life Calendar }

Purchasing and preserving according to rhythms of the seasons rather than regularity of the paychecks takes a bit of planning, but I've experienced firsthand the the payoff in terms of quality, sustainability, and satisfaction at the dinner table.

Paying for our annual CSA membership takes a chunk of change at the beginning of the year, but it frees me up from paying for vegetables once the bountiful spring and summer and autumn months are underway.
Spending money on canning supplies at the onset of preservation season means shopping for "free" from my pantry stash all during the winter months instead of picking up cans of tomatoes at Trader Joes in December and January.

Writing a check for large amounts of honey and maple syrup all at once means a price savings on high quality supplies now on hand for easily sweetening morning meals of steel cut oats or a favorite brownie recipe.

Buying foods in bulk means a $50 minimum order for Azure Standard (that I could always split with friends), but cheaper prices per pound and less trips to the grocery store to refill the flour, spices, beans, and nuts throughout the following months.

{ A Few Favorite Opportunities for East-Side Portland Bulk Buys }

Thanks to Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen for coordinating these upcoming buys:

Freddy Guy's Hazelnuts (Orders due 9/26/11)
Organic Maple Syrup (Orders due 9/26/11)
Larson's Creamery Butter (Orders due 10/3/11)

For info on other related east-side Portland buys, check out one of my favorites:
The Montavilla Food Buying Club

Or check out the helpful list from our April meeting:
Food Group Re-cap: Buying Foods in Bulk

{ What About You? }

Any changes in your buying patterns over the past few years?
Any of them harder (or easier) than others?
Any favorite sources?


Monday, September 12, 2011

The People's Co-op Food Swap

You're invited to participate in the People's Co-op Food Swap on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 at 6pm. For details and to RSVP, visit Lindsay at

Happy Swapping!


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