September 22, 2022

Experiments in Ketchup Making

Chevon and grilled onion sandwich with oven fried potatoes, and homemade ketchup.

We don't eat a lot of ketchup. In fact, I'm the only one who eats it and that's just once a week on my grilled Sunday hamburger. But with all our extra cherry tomatoes, I wanted to give ketchup making a try. I'm calling this an experiment because there is still a little tweaking I want to do. I'm putting all my notes here, so I'll remember what I did, what I want to do differently, and why.

The recipe I used was based on a video by Living Traditions Homestead. What intrigued me was that she used whole tomatoes. She cored them, chopped them, and cooked them with with the other ingredients before running them through her Vitamix blender. What could be easier than that?

I had questions though, because I'd need to use frozen cherry tomatoes instead of large fresh ones. It seems like freezing them toughens the skins, plus, cherry tomatoes are seedier than regular size tomatoes. Would it work as well? I was willing to give it a try and see what I got.

The ingredients in the following recipe are based on the recipe in the video, but adjusted for the amount of tomatoes that I had (fresh plus thawed).


8½ lb  defrosted cherry tomatoes, drained 
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup vinegar (I used my pear vinegar)
3/4 cup sugar (originally 2/3 cup but increased after taste tasting)
1½ tbsp canning salt 
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed

I simmered it all together for several hours and then allowed it to cool. Then I blended batches of it in my new blender.

First batch before blending.

The skins blended quickly but the teeny tiny seeds took some time. The process might have been quick with regular tomatoes and regular tomato seeds, but the miniature seeds were more of a challenge (and I was impatient).

After blending. Smaller batches did a much better job on the seeds.

We sampled it that night for dinner with French fries. Our cherry tomatoes are more acidic than our slicing tomatoes, so one thing we agreed on was that it needed more sweetener (notated in my recipe above). Dan didn't mind the remaining seeds, but I didn't like them. So, before I canned the ketchup I removed the seeds with a fine sieve and spatula.

A lot of people make their ketchup this way. I found it quicker
 and less messy than using my hand juicer (especially clean up).

To can: hot back jars leaving 1/4" 1/2" headspace (I had too many failed seals with 1/4" and had to re-do those). Water bath process for 15 minutes for both pints and half-pints. My yield was 6 pints.


About a week later, I put a picking of cherry tomatoes into the dehydrator for making tomato powder.

Dried cherry tomatoes.

Tomato powder. Do you see any seeds?

The dried seeds powdered right along with the skins and pulp. Hmm. Did cooking the whole tomatoes soften the seeds so that they didn't blend well? Or did drying them make them brittle enough to powder well? That lead to another experiment. What would happen to the seeds if I blended raw cherry tomatoes?
Fresh cherry tomatoes in the blender

After blending. Looks thick and creamy, doesn't it?

The real test was looking for seeds!

If any little seed fragments are there, I can live with it! Plus!!!
It's about thick enough to be sauce; just needs a little seasoning.

I'm guessing that the raw and dried seeds were firm enough to be pulverized in the blender, but the cooked down tomato seeds were too soft and slippery for some of them. Based on several videos that I watched, I don't think that's strictly true of larger tomatoes with larger seeds, but it seems to be true of the tiny, seedy, Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes.

Umm, so, why have I been spending hours and hours every summer juicing tomatoes, and days and days cooking down the juice to make sauce? NO MORE! This is completely changing the way I will make my pizza sauce next year! And all because I wasn't satisfied with the way my ketchup turned out. 


Linda said...

Thank you Leigh for the information.

daisy g said...

I love these experiments! The blender really shaves cooking/prepping time. I have a recipe on my blog for fermented ketchup. Unfortunately, it appears that I can no longer have tomatoes (and other nightshades), as it seems to flare up my eczema. You enjoy some ketchup for me! ;0D

Leigh said...

Linda, I'm happy it's useful!

Daisy, what a bummer about tomatoes. At least you identified a cause of the problem. I'll have to look up your fermented ketchup recipe. I found a video on it, but I was already pretty far down this particular ketchup track. We really like fermented foods, though, so that one will be a must try!

Ed said...

My tomato paste and tomato sauce that I made this year from the volunteer cherry tomatoes were done with the blender and crockpot and like you found out, it did well with the seeds. I don't mind the seeds though and the only thing I ever make that I actively remove them is tomato soup and then only for aesthetic reasons.

I may give the blender a try the next time I can tomato sauce. At first it seems like a lot of work to blend up all the tomatoes, especially the larger ones, but it is also a lot of work blanching them and removing the skins as well and then cooking off all the introduced water. It probably would take less work to just use the blender after coring and then cooking them down to the desired consistency. Less pans and dishes afterwards too. I will also go out on a limb and say that it is probably better for you with all the nutrients contained in the skin still present.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Girlfriend, you utterly amaze me with your determination and creativity around the homestead.

Leigh said...

Ed, I suspect that the quality of the blender helps a lot with the seeds. I don't think my old Oster would have done nearly as good a job.

Some of the videos I looked at never bothered to blanch and remove tomato skins on regular tomatoes. They were cored and then went whole into the vitamix. I think you're correct about nutrients in the skin, that's a pretty universal concept with vegetables.

Next year I plan to experiment! If I can cut down on work, dishes, and time, that will be a huge plus. :)

Sue, I have to say that YouTube is a wealth of ideas! Plus a willingness to experiment. :)

Nina said...

Interesting experiments for sure. I've often thought about trying some of the historical ketchups like mushroom ketchup, but don't like tomato ketchup enough to make a single jar of it, let alone a whole batch of it. :) When I make sauces, I just core and toss the tomatoes in the pot. If I need it smooth, I use my stick blender, because that's the only blender I have. Whatever works is good though. Better to use what we have on hand, than to not get things done because we're wishing for something else. I'm glad you're finding new uses for your blender. It's great when you get something like that and it brings opportunities to try new things.

Klaus said...

Great timely post. I have more end of the season super sweet 100s than I know what to do with and for some reason making ketchup didn’t even register. Thank you for that ah hah moment.

Jenn Jilks said...

You worked so hard!
I quite like ketchup.

Leigh said...

Nina, I admit the new blender has me thinking of all kinds of things I never considered before. It's certainly going to make my summers more efficient.

You've got me intrigued, mentioning mushroom ketchup. I'm going to have to look for that! I remember reading about walnut ketchup, but at the time it seemed odd that ketchup would be based on anything other than tomatoes.

Klaus, I'm glad to help! I hope your ketchup turns out well for you. :)

Leigh said...

Jenn, experimenting is always fun. :)

Nancy In Boise said...

Looks good! We sadly had a total fail on our cherry tomatoes this year. I was hoping for a bumper crop so I could preserve some with herbs in olive oil to store for winter. We'll see if I can find some locally

Leigh said...

Nancy, wow, that's a great idea! I'm going to have to try that too!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, your seed conclusion makes sense to me - from the times I have made tomato sauce, the seeds were quite slippery due to the outer sheaths around them (I call it slime, but there is a technical term, I am sure). Dehydrated, the slime is gone!

I, too, enjoy ketchup on limited things. Burgers for sure - and often, french fries are not the same without it!

Leigh said...

TB, funny how certain condiments enhance certain foods for some but not others. Dan likes mustard on his hamburgers, but I have to mention that he told me that it isn't that he doesn't like ketchup, it's that he thinks my oven baked french fries stand on their own without it. :)

PlantLady said...

Squeezo Strainer...wouldnt try preserving food without one. As a matter of fact, I have 4, to make sure I always have one on hand!
Amazing machine, hand powered, and so handy for so many things. Through the use of an auger and various sized screens, it removes skins, seeds, cores, strings from the pulp.
Mine is about to get its yearly big workout, making 40+ quarts of applesauce. Cut apples in half or quarters, heat in cider to soften, run through Squeezo - and you have perfect applesauce. And the seeds, skins, etc. make great animal food and compost ingredient. The other secret for making the best applesauce is to use as many different varieties as possiblle - the best yet had 16 different varieties!
Awesome for tomatoes, removing skin and seeds so fast and easy. The larger screen removes strings from pumpkins and squash, while the smaller screen removes seeds from berries.
Participated in a Food Storage Class at the local LDS church...and the Squeezo wowed them. And every family bought one!

Leigh said...

PlantLady, a Squeezo was something I looked into years ago, but it was a little out of my price range. I ended up with a Roma Juicer (way cheaper because it is mostly plastic) and it's gotten a lot of use over the years. I still have it, but I have to say that juicing whole tomatoes with my Cleanblend Blender beats manual juicing/straining hands down! It's a huge time saver.