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Wednesday Food: Spicy Hot Ketchup

ketchup 2Since the dead of winter I’ve been pining over the prospect of making my own condiments.  Somehow it seemed inappropriate, when there was snow on the ground and my diet consisted of potato gratin and shepherd’s pie, to be making fresh tomato ketchup or habanero hot sauce.  I wanted to wait through spring until ingredients were at their peak ripeness, but as my tomatoes are still green and peppers not yet bloomed, another approach must be taken.

I have been saving a beautiful, somewhat complex recipe for ketchup that I have to put off until armfuls of fresh tomatoes are available. In the interim I found a simpler approach, perfectly suited to whole canned tomatoes.  I came across it in the June Gourmet which supplies recipes for a backyard barbecue where everything is homemade.  Their effort is noble but some recipes need tweaking while others, like homemade hot dog buns, would be better off as material for a bad Martha Stewart episode.

I cut back on the sugar and amplified the vinegar, which I think lends the sauce to being more complimentary than competitive, especially on grilled food.


about 2 1/2 cups

  • 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (1/2 tsp if you can take heat)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup cider vinegar

Purée tomatoes in a blender or food processor until broken up.

In a large heavy sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic until softened add spices and generous pinches of salt and pepper and cook for another minute or so.  Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar and vinegar (start with 1/2 cup) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 45 to 55 minutes.  Taste while the sauce is reducing and add vinegar if desired.  Return to blender and purée until completely smooth.

Chill before use.


July 1, 2009 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. Am totally stealing this recipe, thanks.

    Comment by bitchphd | July 1, 2009

  2. Why not use fresh tomatoes, if you waited until the summer anyway?

    Comment by ben | July 1, 2009

  3. And where’s the hot sauce?!

    Comment by ben | July 1, 2009

  4. Any fresh tomatoes for me will still have to be imported. Chicago’s tomato season is August-ish. And I’m in the process of a much anticipated first go at jalapeno hot sauce, so let you know how it turns out in next week’s post!

    Comment by ebolden | July 1, 2009

  5. […] the hot sauce and ketchup from recent posts, brining and jarring these vegetables is an attempt to preserve the bounty of […]

    Pingback by Wednesday Food: Pickled Vegetables « The Weblog | July 30, 2009

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