When you have an overabundance of tomatoes from the garden, one way to use them is to make your own ketchup. Tomato ketchup is a way to utilize less than perfect tomatoes and you don't need specialized canning equipment in order to preserve the ketchup after it is cooked and jarred. Plan on the process taking the better part of an afternoon to complete.
Prepare the Tomatoes
Fill a large stockpot half-full of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Fill the kitchen sink with half-full cold water. If you do not have a double kitchen sink, fill the second stockpot half full of cold water. Wash the tomatoes under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris.
Place the tomatoes into the boiling water for one minute. This makes removing the peels easier. Place the boiled tomatoes into the cold water.
Remove the peels by slipping the skins from the fruits. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl.
Cook the Ketchup Ingredients
Cut the tomatoes into quarters, throwing out bruised or damaged portions. Place the tomato quarters into a large stockpot and heat to boiling over medium heat. Add the onions and cayenne pepper. Allow the tomatoes to cook for 30 minutes.
Place the vinegar in a 2 qt. saucepan. Place the spices in the center of several layers of cheesecloth. Bring up the corners of the cheesecloth and tie together to form a ball around the spices. Place the spice bag into the vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover for 20 minutes.
Remove the spice bag from the vinegar and stir the vinegar into the tomato mixture. Return the tomato mixture to a boil and allow to cook for 30 minutes longer. Place a food mill over a large bowl. Ladle the tomato mixture into the food mill and process the tomatoes through the mill, saving the juices in the bowl beneath the mill.
Pour the tomato juices back into the stockpot. Add sugar and salt and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato mixture is reduced by half.
Canning the Ketchup
Fill the second stockpot half-full of water and bring to a boil. Place the canning jars into the water to sterilize. Place the canning lids into a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Use canning tongs to remove the jars from the boiling water.
Use the ladle to fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar. Wipe the jar rim with a paper towel to remove any spills. Place a lid on the jar and secure with a canning lid. Place the jars back into boiling water. Add more water if necessary to cover the jars 2 inches over the top of the lids.
Process the ketchup for 15 minutes in the boiling water bath after the water has returned to a boil. Remove the jars from the water at the end of the cooking time and allow to cool.
About this Author
G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.