The kitchen garden is stuffed to bursting with fruit and veg and we’ve just spent a highly satisfactory afternoon harvesting the fruits of our labours.
Him Outdoors has slaved endlessly over the past four years to turn what was a nettle patch into a productive garden and it’s really paying off. Of course that means we have vast quantities of things like beans, courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Then a good friend and neighbour arrived the other day with another big basket of toms. I never look a gift tomato in the mouth so we set to work to make one of our storecupboard staples, spicy tomato ketchup. This is from Oded Schwartz’s Preserving, one of my favourite books on pickling.
Spicy Tomato Ketchup
2 kg tomatoes
500g shallots or onions
75g fresh ginger root, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3-4 chillies, deseeded
6 celery stalks, with leaves if possible
For the spice bag:
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp crumbled mace blades
Then for every 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of pulp:
250 ml cider vinegar
75g soft brown or white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sweet paprika
Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onion, ginger, garlic and chillies in a food processor.
Put the mixture into a preserving pan. Tie the celery stalks together with string and add to the pan with the spice bag. Bring to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Remove the celery and spice bag. Push the mixture through a sieve or food mill (this is where my electric mouli is a life saver).
Return to the cleaned pan and cook for three quarters of an hour to an hour or until reduced by half.
Measure the puree and add vinegar, sugar, salt and paprika. Boil again, stirring frequently, until reduced and thick. Oded says this can take up to an hour, I find it takes less time.
Pour into hot sterilised bottles, heat process, cool and check the seals. To be honest I don’t bother with the heat processing and I’ve never had a problem. However I don’t want anyone to poison themselves so I suggest you follow the instructions. The ketchup is ready straight away but improves with keeping. Refrigerate after opening.