Monthly Archives: July 2013

Quick, Ketchup with all those Tomatoes!

Do you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with? Try making your own ketchup. A classic condiment that can be found in most American households, you might like your homemade ketchup so much that you never buy another bottle at the grocery store again. The flavorful spices in these recipes might also inspire you to try the tomato-based sauce on more than just burgers and fries.

USDA has tested three slightly different recipes for you to choose from: Tomato Ketchup, Blender Ketchup, and Country Western Ketchup. What’s the difference? The steps of making the products are almost identical, but the ingredients, and therefore flavors, vary. Country Western Ketchup has a spicy kick due to chili peppers, cayenne pepper, and whole peppercorns. Blender Ketchup uses sweet bell peppers, cinnamon sticks, and a lot more sugar than the others. Tomato Ketchup sits in balance between the two, and is the most traditional of the bunch. Like the Country Western it has cayenne pepper, and like the Blender it has cloves, but it also uniquely adds onions to the mix.

In addition to the ingredients, you’ll also need to gather a few pieces of equipment:

  • Four-burner gas or electric stovetop range
  • Boiling water canner with rack
  • 4-gallon stockpot or large kettle for checking tomatoes then heating all ingredients together (“checking” means splitting the skins)
  • Large bowl or sink filled with ice water (to dip checked tomatoes)
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Spice bag
  • Food sieve or food mill (for Tomato Ketchup and Country Western Ketchup), or a blender (for Blender Ketchup)

Follow these links (same as above) to read the complete directions for making Tomato Ketchup, Blender Ketchup, or Country Western Ketchup.

Pickling…Not just for Cucumbers

Pickled Cantaloupe

Dill, sweet, fresh-pack, fermented…there are many varieties of pickles to choose from. While these types of pickles are available on grocery shelves as well as in recipes, most of the pickles on the grocery shelves are made with cucumbers. What if you want to try a different type of fruit or vegetable as a pickled product? Then follow the links to tested recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and add one or two of these fruit and vegetable pickle recipes to your home food preservation practice.

Interesting vegetable recipes include Bread and Butter Pickled Jicama, Pickled Sweet Green Tomatoes, and Pickled Horseradish Sauce.  (Note the horseradish sauce is to be kept in the refrigerator only; there is not a canning process to recommend.)  If you are keen on the flavor of fruit pickles (or interested in a taste adventure), then you might like to try Watermelon Rind Pickles, Spiced Crabapples, or even Cantaloupe Pickles (also available is a No-Sugar Added Cantaloupe Pickles recipe). Quite a few more fruit and vegetable pickle recipes are also available.

Pickled Pearl OnionsPickled Baby Carrots

Remember that the level of acidity is not just important for the taste and texture of your pickled products, but also for the safety of the product. For every tested recipe, the recommended amount of vinegar is necessary for a uniform acidity throughout the product to prevent the growth of botulinum bacteria. Do not alter the proportions of vinegar, water, or foods in tested recipes, and please, use tested recipes.

As for your produce, select fresh, firm fruits or vegetables that are free of spoilage or other damage, and wash them well.

Visit the NCHFP website for more information about Preparing and Canning Fermented and Pickled Foods.

Since You Can’t Have Too Many Tomatoes…


Just as the tomatoes in your garden grow and the varieties of tomatoes in markets continue to increase in number, we also encounter a generous assortment of directions for canning tomatoes. But canning your tomatoes does not have to be too complicated, if you simply use reliable, research-based directions for preparing and processing your food.

For example, home canned tomatoes may be crushed so that they are ready-to-use, or left whole or halved. Whole or Halved Tomatoes may be canned with water, in tomato juice, or with no added liquid. While the no-added-liquid version of canned tomatoes is a raw pack, Crushed Tomatoes are a hot pack only. Tomato Juice can be made as is or as a Tomato-Vegetable Juice Blend, as hot packs only. Also only available as a hot pack is Tomato Sauce.  Many more classic canned tomato product directions are available, such as Spaghetti Sauce with or without meat and Ketchup.

Canned Tomatoes

No matter how you choose to can your tomatoes, remember that it is very important to use a canning process time that matches up with the preparation directions for filling your jars. Also, it is important to the safety of your canned tomato products to use tested directions, like those from USDA. For many of these tomato products, there are canning options for both boiling water and pressure canning available in our directions.

In the case of these tomato products with both options, the pressure processing still requires acidification in these products. The pressure options only provide the same amount of heat to the product as the boiling water processes. Just because pressure is used to decrease the process time, the canning process is not the same as one to destroy spores of Clostridium botulinum as you would expect for low acid foods.

Peeled Tomatoes

Tomatoes are borderline in pH between acid and low acid foods, so the USDA preparation directions for these products call for acidification to allow a less severe heat treatment than would be required without it. To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. (Citric acid results in a less noticeable change in taste for most people.) For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product; in fact, this is recommended to be sure you get the acid in each and every jar. Sugar may be added to offset an acid taste, if desired, but the acid cannot be decreased to taste. (Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.)

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has recommended directions for canning tomatoes and tomato products under “How do I”….”Can”…..”Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products“.

This entry contains excerpts from an article called “Sorting Out Tomato Canning Directions” written by Elizabeth Andress, PhD and Director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.