Ketchup. You think you know what it is, but if you haven’t tasted true homemade ketchup, well… in the words of MTV Diary, “you have no idea”. Often when friends come down to visit they leave with bottles of local ketchup. Curious about this behaviour I asked one why she did it. “It don’t taste the same away like it does here. Trini ketchup sweet and have flavour”. Having lived away I couldn’t recall a huge difference so when American-style chain restaurants began popping up here, complete with Heinz ketchup bottles I thought I would do a quick taste comparison. Wow. They were right. Who knew ketchup formulations could differ so much! Still, if I may be so bold, neither bottle (local or foreign) can hold a candle to any of the homemade ketchups that I have made through the years.
Made from scratch, homemade ketchups are jam-like in texture, jewel-like in colour and gloss, and possessing a depth of flavour, (simultaneously sweet and smoky) that store-bought versions are unable to reproduce. The following recipe comes from Rita Springer’s Caribbean Cookbook and is a ‘generic’ version of the ketchup recipes that can be found throughout the Caribbean.
From: Caribbean Cookbook
3 lb tomatoes
1 cup vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spices
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Cut tomatoes in quarters
2. Place in heavy saucepan and simmer with salt and vinegar until soft
3. Strain through a coarse strainer
At this point the liquid is very runny with some tomato pulp settling at the bottom
It’s hard to believe that this is all that is left behind!
4. Return puree to saucepan, adding sugar
5. Continue to simmer til mixture starts to thicken, then add spice, stir well and flavour to taste
6. When ketchup is very thick pour into hot sterilized bottles
This post was originally published August 10, 2007. It has been updated once since then.