Whether you call it catsup or ketchup, I’m here to tell you that you have experienced neither, until you have tasted it home-made, from home-grown tomatoes, such as the Heinz variety. How hard is ketchup to make at home? The process is not difficult at all; it just requires vast quantities of tomatoes, the right kind.
Not only a specific tomato, but you need to have enough to be willing to cook two-thirds of it down, more of less. If you are a back-yard farmer, then you will find that this makes a serious dent in your crop, unless you have the luxury of being able to plant plenty of tomatoes.
In my case, what I had in mind was a hundred. That ought to be enough to get us started. This being March, we can do anything we like, including starting enough Heinz tomato plants to make as much ketchup as we please.
Now, I have to tell you we have been making catsup here on-farm for years; what we have not been able to do, is make enough to even come close to making it through the year, until the next home-made catsup is ready.
It’s not like I am one of those dudes who puts ketchup on everything-I’m not. That being said, home-made catsup is so tantalizing, it invites a carefree approach when it comes to both quantity used, and applications possible.
Gluten-Free Mama has been experimenting with levels of sweetness and the specific quantities of required spices, and she has got it down. On paper? No, but in her head. When asked about writing it down, she will almost always say that these things are not so easily translated. A little of this and a smidgen of that, are challenging concepts to translate to a word processor.
It’s not the same as slathering catsup on French fries where you can’t have too much. “One Hundred Ways To Cook Potatoes,” is one of my favorite cookbooks, even if it only exists in my mind. And though I don’t put catsup on potatoes au gratin, I do put it on most other potato dishes.
And I apply it to battered/deep-fried eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, carrots; zucchini patties; occasionally to eggs and on fish-cakes, or fried fish. I use ketchup in a multitude of ways so I have always run out.
Last year I planted around 110 tomato plants, altogether, here behind my house, and this did not include what HeadSodBuster and BossLady put in at their spot, where the bulk of HappyDay Farms produce is grown. About fifty of mine were Ace, which we sell mostly to local businesses, and at market, but only 30 were Heinz, with the rest being a smattering of old favorites.
This year I am putting in one hundred Heinz tomato plants in the orchard, and fifty Ace right behind my house. That is more than three times as many Heinz as I planted last year, so I am hoping for enough to make vast, unlimited quantities of cat/ketch/(s)up.
You say to-may-to; I say to-mah-to. You call it catsup; I call it ketchup. You like it on cottage cheese; I like it on grilled cheese. Some folks think it sacrilegious to put it on hot dogs, though I like it. But we all come together in saying, you do not put ketchup on steak.
Except cube steak.