As it happens, making your own ketchup is pretty darned easy, all you’ll need is a few, fairly basic ingredients, a large pot – 8 quarts is the bare minimum – and, most important, a splatter screen for the pot; you don’t want molten balls of tomato goo flying all over your kitchen…
•1 large (6lb 15 oz) can tomato paste
•3 cups sugar
•1/4 cup salt
•3 tbsp celery salt
•2 tbsp Cayenne
•1 tbsp hot Spanish smoked paprika
•3 tbsp ground cinnamon
•1-1/2 tsp ground cloves
•2 cups cider vinegar
•2 cups white vinegar
•8 cups water
•1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
•4 tbsp Angostura bitters
Combine the tomato paste with the sugar, salt, celery salt and cayenne in a tall non-reactive pot – remember, 8 quarts minimum.
Stir in the cinnamon and cloves, then gradually stir in the vinegar.
Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until thick – about 15 to 20 minutes. This is where you’ll appreciate the tall pot – and the splatter shield – just as with my Barbecue Sauce, blazing hot balls o’ tomato goo will bubble up and out; and even with the shield, I found little tomato-y spots in strange places around my kitchen for the next week.
Ladle the still warm ‘sup into prepared canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water and allow to cool on a rack. Check lids for seal after 24 hours; they should not flex up and down when center is pressed. The ‘sup should be ready to use in a day or two (you want to give the flavors time to mellow).
This ‘sup is based on a recipe by Jim Fobel in his Big Flavors cook book, but I’ve adjusted the ‘spicy’ level down to a nice, zippy tingle to suit more tastes. Feel free to adjust the spices and seasonings to your preference and make it your own. I’ve seen vintage advertisements extolling one brand of ketchup that was made using pineapple vinegar; and I’ve been toying around with the idea of using celery, or mebbe even orange bitters in place of the Angostura, or, perhaps a small, holiday batch using Jamaican #1 bitters from Bittercube in Milwaukee – the flavor profile of allspice, ginger, and black pepper seems perfect for a ‘sup.
And who knows, I might could even find some pineapple vinegar…