Homemade ketchup – it sounds complicated as though you’d spend all day in the kitchen pounding your way through vats of tomatoes and slowly simmering them away in kettles on a wooden stove. Making homemade ketchup from scratch seems complex, almost unfathomable in an era when quick-fix, all-in-one bagged skillet dinners constitute “cooking from scratch.” It’s sad day when we’ve forgotten our collective culinary heritage.
And as difficult and complex has preparing ketchup from scratch may seem, like most traditional foods that we seem to have lost along the way, it’s not. Much like rendering lard, curing olives or making a good pot of chicken broth to chase away the flu, preparing a traditional homemade ketchup requires only a few simple steps and easy techniques that even a small child can manage with little effort and great success.
Don’t expect immediate results. In a time when meals can be ready in minutes, we’ve forgotten the value and lesson of delayed gratification. Some things, you see, are worth waiting for, and this homemade ketchup is one of them. Like most condiments, homemade ketchup originally derived the bulk of its complex flavors through the slow process of microbial action – fermentation a practice that is still used to age raw milk cheeses, cure meats and make yogurt. Fermentation used to be much more common and it wasn’t unusual for our great- great- grandparents to serve up meals in which every dish presented was bettered through the lost art of fermentation: cured meat and naturally aged cheeses on sourdough breads with brine-pickled relishes and lacto-fermented condiments served as an adjunct to improve digestion.
And our forebears were right: the process of fermentation and culturing foods not only improved their shelf-life, but dramatically increased the nutrition they gleaned from every bite. You see the traditional art of fermentation – the deliberate and calculated introduction of beneficial bacteria into food – increased each dish’s vitamin and enzyme content while preserving the food for long-term storage. Moreover, fermented condiments like this homemade ketchup and the other condiments and relishes you can learn to make in Nourished Kitchen’s newest cooking class Get Cultured! How to Ferment Anything provided a wide array of beneficial bacteria which help to populate the gut, working interactively with the immune system to keep pathogens at bay and make for resilient and vibrant health. It’s a beautiful art, fermentation.