I don't eat tomatoes in winter. I stopped after I ate tomatoes in summer. If you ever need to convince someone to eat seasonally and locally, the tomato is by far the best way to prove your point. The tomatoes flown in from halfway round the world without enough sun to make them blush are nothing at all like the plump juicy babies bursting with sweetness. I've been popping baby plum tomatoes into my mouth straight, really, "once you pop you can't stop"; I'm not too worried though, they are far less dangerous than a can of Pringles. I also get heritage tomatoes in all sorts of colours and shapes, just because they look so gloriously weird. When I can be bothered, I tear basil leaves from my overgrown windowsill plant and beat in a couple of eggs, or toss with some olive oil and torn sourdough bread. But most times they need nothing else.
I've been flirting with the thought of canning tomatoes so I can kind of still have tomatoes in winter, but I had neither the equipment nor expertise nor the glut of tomatoes in the first place to do so. The googling led me to a homemade ketchup recipe though, and I now have my first bottle of homemade ketchup. I know ketchup seems as Singaporean as Captain Planet, but both were things I grew up with. I loved ketchup as a child, squeezed over a hotdog, dipped into fries, or because the Singapore hawkers are such cool, quirky, east-meets-west beings, tossed with wanton noodles. And to be true to my memory and childhood love of ketchup, it has to chilli ketchup. The kids that got the plain ketchup packets were frowned upon; bo-ring!
HOMEMADE CHILLI KETCHUP
6 large tomatoes
2 red chillies (more or less, depending on spice level of chillies/ your tolerance level)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 star anise
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sea salt
(opt) 2 tbsp whey
1. Chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic and chillies (I left the seeds in).
2. Throw everything into a pot and simmer over a low heat for 4 hours, or until the mixture becomes very thick.
3. Puree the mixture, let chill, and strain into jars, or your old squeezy bottle of Heinz or if you're Singaporean, Maggi chilli ketchup, that you can now throw out. You can store it in the fridge for about a week or more I should think, or
4. (opt) Add the whey, and leave at room temperature for 2 days, partially covered, before capping fully and transferring to the fridge to stop the fermentation process. This is a brilliant tip from cheeseslave , to improve shelf-life and nutrition, giving you a probiotic boost when you're munching worriedly on your french fries and burgers.
This is real, proper ketchup. Rich with the sweet-tart intensity of slow-cooked tomatoes, with a punch from the spices and a little bit of old-school kick from the chilli. And of course with none of the sodium benozate/ modified starches/ emulsifiers ending with a string of numbers.