REGULAR ‘OL TOMATO KETCHUP (BUT BETTER)
Makes about 3 cups
Time Commitment: Less than 1 hour
If you’re craving the taste of that red stuff that comes with a burger at your favorite fast food restaurant, this recipe is bound to disappoint. This ketchup has a stronger flavor and a tangier sweet and vinegary taste than its cousin laden with xanthan gum and corn syrup. However, it’s still the best thing to happen to French fries since the potato.
Prep Ahead: You’ll need a clean jar to store the ketchup. Make sure it is free of rust and odors and the lid seals tightly. Prepare a label that lists the contents and date prepared.
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
5 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1 star anise
10 black peppercorns
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, like canola or sunflower
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions: Using a piece of cheesecloth (or an empty tea bag), tie the cinnamon, bay, cloves, cardamom, anise, and peppercorns into a bundle. Set aside.
Pour the tomatoes and their juice into a food processor or blender. Puree until totally smooth, and set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the remainder, add the onion and puree.
In a large nonreactive Dutch oven (bigger than you think, as this will splatter like a Pollock painting), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion puree and the 2 teaspoons of salt and stir well. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, letting the puree reduce and lightly brown. Add the tomato, sugar, and vinegar, turn the heat to a low simmer, and reduce for about 15 minutes, uncovered, with an occasional stir. Add the spice bundle and reduce for 10 minutes more. When it’s done reducing, it should be a little thinner than commercial ketchup. Stir in the paprika, taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.
Let the ketchup cool and remove the spice bundle. Pour into a jar and chill overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
How to Store It Refrigerated: homemade ketchup will keep at least 2 months.
How to Can It: Ladle into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes at altitudes up to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes at altitudes up to 6,000 feet, and 25 minutes at altitudes over 6,000 feet.