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Red Tin Recipe Box :Tomato Catsup

Posted by on October 16, 2013


roasted ingrCatsup, Ketchup. Tomato, Tamato.

A condiment consisting of pureed tomatoes, onions, vinegar,sugar,spices, etc.

The very thing no french fry can live without,  no hot dog or burger either. Why so we love it so? And when did we all stop making it ourselves? Have you read the ingredient list of the commercially prepared stuff? Didn’t think so. If you had, you would never buy it again.


I came across my Grandmother’s recipe for Tomato Catsup not too long ago. The problem, as with all old recipes, is there is little instruction and even less measurements. It was a common thing, everybody made it,why do you need to be told how? Obviously the genetic memory for catsup making passed my generation. I have no such information in my DNA (I’ve checked) baking, yes. Catsup, no. So, here I was with the most vague of recipes with the ingredient list that read:

ripe tomatoes ( basket) peeled and chopped with 6 onions (large) green pepper, 5 chopped apples, 2c sugar

1tsp cayenne, 1 tables cloves, 1 tables cinnamon 3c cider vingar

Combine all and cook for 3 hours, no water–slowly.


Sorry? …Basket?  A green pepper?

Trust me, I was ready to reach for the Ouija board, or visit a medium. Fortunately my aunt was available for some much needed clarification.

A basket = 6 ltrs, green peppers might have been 6 of them. The rest was not that difficult, unless you start thinking about how much this is going to make. So I had to break the recipe down to something far more manageable.

I had to reach for the conversion charts, and  consult my live resource.  Once I worked out how many cups one tomato would get me, and the same with everything else, it all fell into place. It took a week…no really.

So, here is the revised recipe, in a manageable amount that is fairly easy to make at home. Once the sauce is made, you can put it into canning jars to process.

The only special equipment you are going to need is a slow cooker, and possibly an emersion blender. It makes the process easier, but not the end of the world if you do not have these things.

1 3/4 C onions

3 C peppers ( I suggest red peppers)

2 1/2 C apples

12 C tomatoes

1 1/2 C Cider Vinegar

1/2   C brown sugar

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne

Set your oven to broil, and prepare a pan for all of your tomatoes and peppers.

As I used canner tomatoes, and I worked out one tomato equals a half cup . So, you will need 24 good sized canner tomatoes. Place the tomatoes on the pan and place under the broiler, wait for the skins to blacken and blister, then turn the tomatoes and blacken the other side. Once both sides are blackened, take them out and place them into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film or a large plate until they are cool enough to peel.

In the mean time use the same pan to roast the peppers. Lets just talk about the peppers for a sec. I find green peppers to be bitter and horrid, it gets worse when they are cooked. I don’t use them, they are not allowed in the kitchen or past the front door for that matter. I have become a pepper snob. I will only use red, yellow or orange. For this recipe I used red peppers.  I roasted them in the same way I did the tomatoes and measured out the amount I needed.  Peel and half the onions, as I had worked out one onion would net me about one cup, you will need two large onions ( I did three, just in case as my definition of large may be different from yours) place these on the tray and roast as the tomatoes and the peppers ( I hope you decide to use red ones, I really, really do.)

Measure out the rest of the ingredients and combine. If you are using a slow cooker, use the high setting until the ingredients start to break down. This will take several hours, at some point ( six or eight hours) you can use the emersion blender to make a smooth sauce , then turn the setting to low and let the catsup to reduce and thicken. Stove top cooking will be much the same, it will take a little more babysitting… Cook on a low heat stirring occasionally with the lid off. Once the ingredients have broken down, you can use a blender in small batches make a smooth sauce. Or you can let the still chunky sauce cool and use a food mill, something every catsup making house wife had back in the day.


I let my sauce reduce overnight in the crock-pot on low, eight hours later I had a perfectly reduced catsup. The only thing that was required was to adjust the seasonings ( notice how the recipe does not call for salt or pepper, or even garlic for that matter!) The only task left now was to jar and process it. I managed to get 5 pint jars form this recipe, enough to keep us all winter long…and possibly spring…and surely into next fall.

I think I know what everybody is getting for Christmas.

finished jars


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