About this time last year I made my first homemade ketchup. Shortly afterwards, the National Post mentioned my ketchup & then they tasted my ketchup compared to two other recipes. I thought this was a fabulous idea! A Ketchup Tasting Party. I mean, who doesn’t love French fries and onion rings. And, an excuse to eat them while doing “research” about best tasting ketchup, I’m all over it!
So, I decided to taste the Jamie Oliver ketchup that the National Post made. I wanted a super easy ketchup made from tomato paste. I wanted to remake the one I made last year from the Joy of Cooking. Heinz should be in there, I mean it is the best-selling ketchup. And, then I came across another recipe where they roasted the tomatoes in the oven (this reminds me of my salsa).
I made it a blind taste test so that no one would feel too persuaded by any names associated with the various ketchups. We tasted with French friends and onion rings. I even made up “Tasting Notes Sheets” so that we could track our thoughts about each as we tasted. There was much tasting and discussing. It was great fun! Then, we had burgers (beef for the meat eaters and homemade veggie patties for the veggies) with the winning ketchup.
Now, as a bit of a confession, I’ve never been a big fan of ketchup. It’s always seemed too sweet and too boring to me. I’d rather have plain French fries or even better, with ranch dressing.
To my surprise, there was a clear winner: ketchup A the ketchup made with canned tomato paste! Everyone gave it the highest ranking, with comments like thick, good texture, tangy, complex, yum, perfect appearance, dark red color, and Perfect! And, it was the easiest and quickest one to make. I’m so excited that it was super easy and can be made any time of year!
Unfortunately, there was one that was a disaster (ketchup B): the one made with roasted tomatoes. I followed the instructions, but 3 hours in the oven didn’t produce nice little roasted tomatoes, it produced lumps of coal. I made another batch of roasted tomatoes following my roasted tomato salsa directions, then I followed the rest of the ketchup instructions. But, in the end, this ketchup came in last place with comments like looks like salsa, too chunky, and peppery.
Heinz (ketchup C) did fairly well in the tasting. Placing either 2nd of 3rd in the voting. I think people who like ketchup, appreciate this flavor because it’s what they grew up with. Comments like shiny, a little runny, vinegary, light color, one-dimensional, and chemical tasting were made.
Jamie Oliver’s recipe (ketchup E) came in second place with comments like good-looking, sweet, like BBQ sauce, dark and appealing, deep rich flavor but closer to BBQ sauce than ketchup, and too tangy. So, I think I’d add a tablespoon or so of chili powder, ¼ cup of molasses, and 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and see if that makes it super BBQ sauce.
And the Joy of Cooking ketchup (ketchup D) placed 3rd with comments like nice color, high in nutmeg flavor, good texture, sweet, and appealing.
It was great fun! And, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to play with our food (adapted recipes are below the pictures)!
Tomato Paste Ketchup
Adapted from Food.com
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
¼ cup mild honey
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Chill and store refrigerated in a covered container.
Jamie Oliver’s ketchup
Adapted from Food.com
1 ½ red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
½ fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped (I used a Hungarian pepper)
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped, divided use
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Roma tomatoes, halved
1 pound canned crushed tomatoes
¾ cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and garlic, chili, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with pepper and a good pinch of salt.
Cook gently over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half, about 30 minutes.
Add the basil leaves, then blend the sauce in a Food Processor or blender and push it through a fine mesh sieve, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce over medium-heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. Taste for salt and pepper.
Spoon the ketchup through a sterilized funnel into sterilized bottles, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the refrigerator until needed – it should keep for up to 6 months.