Have you ever tried to imagine a world without ketchup? Sure, it's possible. But even if you're not a fan, there's no denying that it's an essential part of our culture. The thick, tart and sweet sauce synonymous with Americana actually originated in China. Its modern incarnation is a variation on a sauce made from Chinese pickled fish and spices, eventually becoming retooled with the sweet and tangy tomato, which we most often identify in a word simply as "Heinz."
Heinz, with more than a 60 percent market share in the ketchup category, has ingrained us with an expectation of flavor and texture that hardly any other brand can satisfy. Its iconic glass ketchup bottle still the symbol of an American classic, was actually replaced with plastic in the 1990s. Several natural brands are available (Heinz has an organic variation too), but they're mostly all available only in plastic, and the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar make BPA (bisphenol-A) more likely to leach into your condiment.
Good thing you can easily make your own ketchup from scratch. It's a lot simpler than it sounds and you can skip the BPA, corn syrup and other nasty ingredients found in store-bought varieties. Don't expect something identical to Heinz.... but a few tastes and you will revive your love of new flavors and delicious possibilities.
This recipe is spicy! If you want it more mild, omit the peppers and cayenne. Makes the perfect gift, too!
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive olive oil
1 small onion, finely minced
1 small jalapeno or poblano pepper finely minced
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1⁄4 cup turbinado sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you want it hotter)
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
pinch of ground cinnamon
1⁄4 cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
16 oz crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (best if homemade!)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, stirring often and cooking until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add fresh peppers, sugar and spices, stirring occasionally until the sugar melts. Add vinegar and tomato paste and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Stir in tomato sauce and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick. Once cooked, transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Store in your refrigerator, and enjoy!
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