Thursday, September 23, 2010

The tomatoes are over, but I'm not over tomatoes

With the potential glut of tomatoes now that the fabulous season we've just been through is coming to a glorious close, here’s something that’ll please almost everybody for a while to come. Early season tomatoes have their best uses in fresh, lightly cooked tomato sauces for pasta or as a bruschetta topping for example. Some shallots, garlic and oregano helps to lift the youthful and maybe fairly underdeveloped flavours a bit.

Mid season brings us plant establishment, heavier sun and mature flavour - there's a period through July and August where during which little more than a pinch of good salt and a twist of pepper is often all that's needed to dress a fully ripe tomato. Now in their final scene, with the branches withering and the fruit seeming a little tougher skinned and drained of colour, this recipe for ketchup to take us into the next season does the trick.

This yields rather a lot, but it will keep for at least a month in a covered container in the fridge.

Proper tomato ketchup

5kg ripe tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp four spice mix
1½ tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp salt
4 tblsp icing sugar
1 tblsp white wine vinegar

Core the tomatoes and reserve the stems. Place the tomatoes in a pressure cooker and add water to a depth of 1cm. Bring the cooker to full pressure for 20 minutes and then allow to cool. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, slowly cook the tomatoes over a medium-low heat for about 45 minutes. Pass the tomatoes and liquid through a sieve, discarding the leftovers.

Add all the other ingredients, except the icing sugar, the vinegar and the stems, to the tomatoes. Place in a pan and simmer slowly over a low heat until it is reduced by half - this will take about 4 hours. Pass the mixture through a sieve again. Add the icing sugar, return to the pan and continue to reduce over a low heat until it reaches a ketchup-like consistency - this will take just over an hour.

Allow to cool, and then add the vinegar. Finally, place the reserved tomato stems into the ketchup mixture for a few hours to infuse it with the fresh vine odour - it’s important to do this after the mixture has cooled, as the vine aroma is destroyed by heat. Discard the stems before serving.