Got tomatoes? Me too. And even though I have them in my back yard, I can’t help but pick up more when there are so many overflowing bins of them at the market. And so this year I made ketchup (takes up less space than sauce or whole tomatoes – not that I’ve ever preserved my own that way anyway) – since W is such a ketchup fan, and because the bottled kind you get at the store is largely liquid sugar, I thought I’d make my own before he gets old enough to discriminate against any ketchup that doesn’t start with an H and end in a Z. I posted it over at the Family Kitchen, and it went a little bit viral – turns out it’s not just me who thinks homemade ketchup is a good idea. We talked about it on CBC yesterday morning, along with the issue of tomato classification.
To recap: Botanically, tomatoes are indeed fruit, but they are also vegetables. The term is purely culinary, referring to any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food. So from a culinary standpoint, a tomato is a vegetable. In the garden, it’s a fruit. Whatever you call it, I’m just happy that my plants are producing some. (Emphasis on some.) In case you do get pulled into the fruit vs. vegetable debate, you can play the Supreme Court card: legally, tomatoes have been considered vegetables since the late 1800s when the US imposed tariff laws that included a duty on vegetables but not fruit, forcing a court decision. (Furthermore, tomatoes are the state vegetable of New Jersey – 8,682,661 New Jerseyers can’t be wrong.)
There are a bazillion ketchup recipes out there – all flavoured differently. So feel free to add spices to suit your taste – cinnamon, cloves, paprika, celery seed, peppercorns, bay leaves and fresh basil are commonly simmered along with the tomatoes (pluck out anything that’s too hard to purée), or try thinly slicing a bulb of fresh fennel and adding it to the pot. I do this in the slow cooker – throw the lot of it in and set it on low for 6-8 hours. Purée.