Sunday, July 21, 2013

Alternative Home Made Ketchups - Tomatoes are not the only veg!!

Ketchup, the All Tomato, All American condiment - its history is a little more scattered and far more interesting than that, and very apt to my current wanderings.
With Summer and BBQs it is really cool, and interesting, to have as much as possible from your own garden, so why not the condiments!! So, a little history and some tried and tested recipies. Use your heaviest pot for these.

The name 'Ketchup' is derived from Amoy dialect Chinese - kôe-chiap or kê-chiap meaning "brine of pickled fish or shellfish", and had no tomatoes.

The table sauce made it to the Malay states - Singapore and Malaysia..
In Singapore and Malaysia, one can find ketchup based on banana's, lemons and other staples, tied in with vinegar, salt, spices and sugar- think of it sort of like South Asian chutney.  

The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce is kicap, or kĕchap , which just means sauce
That word evolved into the English word "ketchup"

It was first introduced to the West in the 17th century by sailors returning from voyages to the Far East, and has since evolved into the tomato-vinegar based sauce we know today.
In 1690 Catchup was recorded in the dictionary as " a high East-India Sauce"
In 1730 our own Jonathan Swift in Panegyrick on the Dean -
"And, for our home-bred British cheer, Botargo, catsup, and caveer"
Early ketchup's were heavy on salt, thin and quite vinegary - more like today's Worcestershire sauce  but by the early to mid 19th century the Americans had begun to sweeten their ketchup, and tomatoes had begun to become more acceptable.

A man named Jonas Yerks (or Yerkes) is believed to have been the first man to make tomato ketchup an American phenomenon. By 1837, he had produced and distributed the condiment nationally.

Other companies followed suit - like Heinz who launched their tomato ketchup in 1876 advertised as "Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!"
As food laws became stricter - so did preservatives etc. Ketchup was originally saltier, thinner and with more of a vinegar kick. With the banning of sodium benzoate Heinz and others went for more sugar

The Websters Dictionary of 1913 defined ‘catchup’ as: “table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc. [Also written as ketchup].”

But it was the tomato version that became the dominant condiment on the American, and most European, tables through the 20th century.

This mushroom ketchup is with fish, chicken, meats or pasta, and, as usual, when you make it yourself you control the ketchup ingredients, so you get it preservative and gunk free, you control the sugar levels, and you can even prepare it as organic ketchup.
Real 'gourmet ketchup'!
So why not go ahead and give this great homemade ketchup recipe a try?

2 lbs (900 g) mushrooms, preferably large, open ones
2 oz (56 g) salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
A pinch of ground mace
A pinch of ground ginger
A pinch of crushed cloves
A pinch of cinnamon
½ pint (285 ml) brown malt vinegar

Wash and dry the mushrooms, trim off the ends of the stalks if necessary but do not peel them.
Chop into small pieces

Layer the mushrooms in the salt in a large bowl.
Cover and leave for 24 hours and then rinse and drain.

Place in a pan with the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain through a sieve and pour into hot, sterilized, bottles and seal.

And Horseradish Ketchup
473.18 ml horseradish, grated
236.59 ml cider vinegar
236.59 ml olive oil
4.92 ml salt
59.14 ml sugar
14.79 ml dry mustard (Coleman's preferred)
1.23 ml ground pepper


1 Blend all ingredients together very well.
2 Pour into half pint jars.
3 Cover and refrigerate.
Pork Ketchup


3 pounds apple, tart, cored, peeled & quartered
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup horseradish, freshly grated
3/4 cup sugar, granulated
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Combine the apples and water in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook the apples, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and have dissolved into a lumpy sauce, about 30 minutes. (The amount of time will depend on the variety of apple used.) Remove the pan from the heat and let the apple-sauce cool a few minutes.

Transfer the applesauce to the container of a food processor. Process the sauce until smooth. Rinse out the saucepan and return the applesauce to it. Add the vinegar, horseradish, sugar, salt, cinnamon, pepper, mustard and cloves.

Bring the ketchup mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the ketchup, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the ketchup from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Store the Apple-horseradish ketchup, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January: Irish Kitchen Garden tips and advice

Well, its time to start a new year and plan ahead.
One feels that growing your own food in 2013 will be even more important in the times we have.
Oil prices are high, so food is set to become more expensive.
Even a container or fish box can give you salads, herbs and other easy to grow crops so do give it a go. Home grown food is going to be fresher, I believe healthier and certainly more rewarding than plastic shrink wrapped or frozen equivalents. The flavour difference between frozen and fresh veg is huge.

I'm coming home in a few days to make a start on this years crops. It will be interesting to see how the garden has coped in my absence.
Last October I advised as to winter crops and jobs.

But if this is a start its still a good time to get the spade or hoe out and start turning the garden.
Frost and rain break up the soil and help disrupt weeds.
Turn over fairly big clods this allows the frost to break up the ground for you, helps kill off pests and aerated the soil.
Also, it provides some extra food for the birds, they will pick away at pests and bugs.
Don't forget to put out some feeders for our little feathered friends - they guard your garden.
Only February is colder and only December has shorter days. Its a good time to clean things up.
Wash and sterilize propagators. sharpen tools and tidy stuff away.
If you do not already have a compost bin, build one now.

Start putting down traps, especially on new ground for wire worms and beer traps for slugs.
Its never too early to make a dent in their populations - although at the moment its probably too cold for nematodes.

If you live near the sea January was the traditional start of the seaweed collection period. For new potato beds lay out seaweed - and be generous

Its time to order and browse seed catalogs and plan the garden, what goes where etc.
It is a great way to start to get past winter, reading up on those occasionally poetic and frequently funny veg names, its a reassurance of spring and growth and a new season on dark, cold and wet nights.
Save egg boxes as they will come in handy for potato chitting next month - whats an Irish veg patch without a few spuds?

Source your seed potatoes if you have not already done so.
When you’ve got your seed potatoes, set them in a light, cool, frost-free spot and leave them to sprout. Make sure you put the tubers with the 'eye' end - where the sprouts will grow from - upwards

You can already make a start on other vital crops - its getting a little late but get garlic cloves into the ground in a sunny spot.

On your window sill plant onion seeds in seed trays.
Indoors or in a shed for early crops eg: lettuces, summer brassicas (e.g. cabbages and cauliflowers), spinach, salad onions and turnips.

Stake or earth up Brussels sprout stalks and kales that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock.
Pick the biggest sprouts from low down the stalks first.

Force chicory / witloof to produce plump leafy heads.
You can start forcing rhubarb, seakale and chicory in January.

Rhubarb is forced by placing an up-turned bucket/pot over the plant to exclude light.
The warmer the environment the quicker it will grow; you can place manure or straw over the top to encourage growth of the pale, sweet shoots.
Seakale is forced the same way, only there is no need for extra warmth.

Apply winter washes to fruit trees and bushes. Ensure tree stakes and ties are firm and sound.

Prune gooseberry, currant and autumn raspberry bushes.

Prune apple and pear trees - but not stoned fruit trees like cherry or plum.

Plant bare-root trees and bushes, as long as the soil isn't frozen.

Apply a top dressing of sulphate of potash to all fruits and nuts.

Thanks for reading, if this is your first year growing your own food - stick with it, its fantastically rewarding, and if your a returning reader, thanks for sticking with my erratic blogging.

Again, Please do take the time to comment - I really do value and appreciate the feedback.
Please also let others know about the blog, its nice to think it is of help to others.

All the best for 2013 - Simon (the one in the middle)

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