Yes, you too can make your own ketchup. I came across a great deal through our local food co-op and bought 25 lbs of tomatoes for $11.00. I'll do the math for you - that's $0.44 per pound. I split mine with mom, so I was down to roughly 12 pounds. I needed six pounds for this recipe but I had used some of my tomatoes already and I am canning roughly four pounds tomorrow, so I just used about four pounds of my tomatoes and substituted for the rest. To substitute, I used one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, which is roughly 4 large tomatoes, or about two pounds. Now let's get down to the nitty gritty.
6 lbs ripe tomatoes (about 12 large tomatoes, or you can substitute some with a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes. Try to use more fresh than canned though)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 450. Halve the tomatoes, drizzle some olive oil over them.
Roast them on a baking pan (or two) for 20 minutes or until they're soft and wrinkled looking but not burnt.
Let the tomatoes cool for a few minutes, and then transfer them to a blender or food processor and puree until they're smooth. You may have to work in small batches.
In a heavy-bottomed pot over a medium heat, warm the sugar, keeping it moving with a wooden spoon, for about a minute.
Add the onion and garlic, the pureed roasted tomatoes (and the canned crushed tomatoes, if you're using them). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the three vinegars and continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until reduced by two-thirds. It should be well thickened by now. Remove from heat and season to taste with the cayenne pepper if you are using it.
Cooling: Fill a large stockpot about halfway with a mixture of half ice, half water, and submerge the container in the ice bath to chill. The idea is for the ice-water level to come most of the way up the outside of the container, but don't let any water into the ketchup.
Stir the ketchup more or less constantly, until it the temperature reaches 70°F on an instant-read thermometer. Then remove the container from the ice bath, cover and transfer to the refrigerator where it will keep for about 10 days.
Makes about one quart of ketchup.
You will note that I do not own a large stockpot. I know my mom would have been happy for me to borrow hers (I actually should probably break down and purchase one for myself) but I did want to prove that you can work around that part of the recipe. I used two different tupperware storage containers and put them each in a cold water bath as described. Also, I have cheesecloth but I found that a splatter screen was much easier to deal with when straining. The cheesecloth is very inexpensive if you want to buy it. For those of you in Moore County, you can get it at Michaels craft store for less than $3.00. Use a 40% off one item coupon (they send these out in the newspaper every week) and it will be $1.48. So cheap!
I even got these great condiment squeeze bottles. You can get them for less than $2 at Bed Bath and Beyond or less than $1 at Walmart.
Bad thing about this recipe - because there are no preservatives it only lasts ten days. But you could easily half it and maybe you could go through it very quickly. It does have somewhat of a tangy flavor - do not think this is going to be a 100% replacement for your Hunts or Heinz. But it's always cool to have your own homemade condiments in your refrigerator. Or, buy some extra squeeze bottles and share with your neighbors or friends!