Regular Ol' Tomato Ketchup (but Better)

  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 5 whole cloves 
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed 
  • 1 star anise 
  • 10 black peppercorns 
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes 
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered 
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, like canola or sunflower 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika 
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Using a piece of cheesecloth (or an empty tea bag), tie the cinnamon, bay, cloves, cardamom, anise, and peppercorns into a bundle. Set aside. Pour the tomatoes and their juice into a food processor or blender. Puree until totally smooth, and set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the remainder, add the onion and puree.
In a large nonreactive Dutch oven (bigger than you think, as this will splatter like a Pollock painting), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion puree and the 2 teaspoons of salt and stir well. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, letting the puree reduce and lightly brown. Add the tomato, sugar, and vinegar, turn the heat to a low simmer, and reduce for about 15 minutes, uncovered, with an occasional stir. Add the spice bundle and reduce for 10 minutes more. When it's done reducing, it should be a little thinner than commercial ketchup. Stir in the paprika, taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed. Let the ketchup cool and remove the spice bundle. Pour into a jar and chill overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

How to Store It: Refrigerated, homemade ketchup will keep at least 2 months.
How to Can It: Carefully read through the canning directions on page 88 before you begin. Ladle into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes at altitudes up to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes at altitudes up to 6,000 feet, and 25 minutes at altitudes over 6,000 feet. 
[More: Solomon's interview about making ketchup]
Makes about 3 cups

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