Homemade Hipster Ketchup

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Okay, we all love to hate the hipster. Honestly, who among us hasn’t rolled their eyes at collectors of vinyl…or mason-jar weddings…or guys wearing toques and scarves in July?

But I do have to admit that I like the hipster(ish) movement toward craft everything.

And I do have a weakness for (and a collection of) mason jars….and, okay, if we’re being completely honest, I like to drizzle artisanal honey on my pizza.

Last week, we had a collection of guests up at the cabin–Johnny, Annie, and Em. They are all delightful to cook for, and each evening over dinner, Annie would share her extensive knowledge of hip Vancouver (…and Washington…and Oregon) restaurants, and Em would share her suggestions for appropriate craft cocktails, which she would then miraculously produce. My favourite was the post-prandial Irish Coffee she made after a particularly sumptuous Jamesian feast:

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One evening, Annie went into raptures about a ketchup she’d eaten that was so amazing, it changed her hatred of cilantro to love. Indeed, she loved the ketchup so much that she pestered the management of the restaurant for the secret recipe, which they would not disclose. They did, however, send her the list of ingredients, along with a few tips. No proportions were forthcoming, however.

Ay, there’s the rub.

Now, as I’ve likely mentioned a few dozen times, I am not a lover of ketchup, but my darling James is, and he does so many amazing things for me that I’ll do anything for him. Thus, I decided to try to create this amazing artisanal ketchup for my sweetheart.

I have made ketchup in the past with another recipe, and James prefers it to commercial ketchup. He has pronounced this new recipe even better though!

Of course, a big part of the problem is that I don’t know what the original tastes like…but what are Sunday mornings for but to create a huge mess in the kitchen in pursuit of the perfect ketchup? So I got Annie to send me the list of ingredients and then set about trying to figure out the proportions and the process. One of the original ingredients was chipotle paste, but we don’t like chipotle here at Sideways Cottage, so I used Fresno peppers. If you’re someone who does like chipotle, I’d roast the peppers and blend them, rather than using paste though.

So…here we go!

Homemade Ketchup

Place the following on a lightly oiled piece of parchment paper under the broiler until blackened. You’ll need to start the onion slices first, then flip them once and add the peppers:

  • 4 seeded, halved Fresno peppers, roasted until black (you can use jalepeno, serrano, or chipotle, depending on your taste)
  • 1 sliced red onion, roasted until black (you can also use white)

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Next, in a non-stick pan, toast…

  • 1 TBS coriander seeds
  • 1 TBS cumin seeds

Once toasted, grind the spices with a mortar and pestle (if you are hip…or the Magic Bullet if you are not!) and add back to the pan, toast for a few more seconds and then add the following to the pan (on medium heat)…

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt,
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika,
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Stir continuously until smooth and just starting to bubble.

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Next add to the Vitamix (or any high-powered blender) the contents of the pan, the roasted onion and peppers, and….

  • 1 1/2 cups water (you can add more or less…depending on how thick you like your ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
  • 4  whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (if you use chipotle peppers, you likely will not need this)

And blend like hell. I think the original was chunkier, but chunky ketchup is far too hip for the old inhabitants of Sideways Cottage.

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Because I was tasting and adjusting and tasting and adjusting, I lost all sense of taste, so I had to get James to taste (a task he hates!). He did oblige, however, and pronounced it perfect!!

After giving my taste buds a bit of a rest, I tasted my previous version of homemade ketchup against this new one. The new one is the bomb-diggity!!! Even I, a non-ketchup lover, like it!!

The process is a bit labour intensive, but I’d say it’s worth it because the recipe makes a litre of ketchup!

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Fortunately, my reflection in the jar is blurry…otherwise, you’d see me in my highly unflattering grey KPU onesie! Part of the “charm” of this particularly strange piece of clothing is that the zipper does not stop, so I could zip my entire head up into the hood if need be.

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And the song of the day is Kate McGarrigle’s “Talk to Me of Mendocino” because James has been playing it all morning. And the original is so funereal to begin with that James barely has to slow it down to his own dirge-level preference when he sings it!

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