The Disappearing Tomatoes

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07 03 09_0069We love fresh tomatoes. Sliced onto a plate with a little salt over them; with mozzarella, a little basil and some balsamic vinegar (Yum!); with crushed crackers and some more balsamic vinegar—also delicious; sliced onto a grilled cheese sandwich before the grilling part—another treat.

But there are limits. And when we cannot face another heaping bowl of lovely, fresh tomatoes calling out to be eaten, we dig out the stock pot and make some catsup.

You can make 24 pounds of fresh tomatoes fit into three or maybe four pint jars this way! It may be an even better tomato disappearing trick than drying. (We’ll have to do an experiment to see how they really compare…hmmm…good thing the kids are back starting in September.)

After several batches and many opinions, here is the recipe we have settled on for delicious, homemade catsup. Or ketchup. Or however you spell it where you’re from.

Let us know how you like it!

Tomato Ketchup
(about 3 or 4 pint jars)

24 pounds ripe tomatoes
3 cups chopped onions
1 or 2 red peppers, on the hot side 
4 teaspoons whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon, broken in pieces
1½ teaspoons whole allspice
3 tablespoons celery seeds
3 cups cider vinegar
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup pickling or kosher salt

Wash tomatoes. Quarter tomatoes into 4-gallon pot. Add onions and red peppers. Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes, uncovered.

Combine spices in a spice bag. Place spices and vinegar in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to boil. Cover, turn off heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove spice bag from the vinegar and add the vinegar to the tomato mixture. Boil about 30 minutes. Press boiled mixture through a food mill or sieve. Return to pot. Add sugar and salt and boil gently, stirring frequently until volume is reduced by one-half or until mixture rounds up on spoon without separation. Pour into hot pint jars, leaving 1/8-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process half-pints in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

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