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Smoky ketchup to use up those last few tomatoes

| October 25, 2016 1:00 AM

We’ve had an abundance of tomatoes slowly ripening in the house since the night before the first hard frost. We’ve found uses for all of the larger tomatoes, but now what to do with all of the smaller ones that were ripening.

The first promising recipe was for a smoky ketchup, that would eat up a large quantity of tomatoes and yield a few half-pints of product. Trouble was that all the tomatoes would have to be cut in half and then hot-smoked. Then the skins would be removed for final processing. Plus, we were doubling the recipe to clean up all the tomatoes we have. What could be more fun?

I decided to cheat a little bit on the smoking part by using my gas grill, but removing the heat diffusers and placing a soaked piece of apple wood directly on the burner plate. For insurance I also placed a charcoal briquette there too. After preheating the grill, I was delighted to find where the wood and briquette were burning/smoking was much hotter than the gas grill normally gets.

I had scrubbed the grill, so was able to put the tomato halves directly on hot grates, instead of charred remains of previous foods. I certainly didn’t want a steak flavored ketchup!

The grilling project consumed three hours and three large bowls of little tomatoes. Got to the point during the process where I set aside part of the grill and knocked out a few burgers for dinner. If the tomatoes had been larger, it would have taken a far shorter amount of time to get the tomatoes done.

SMOKY KETCHUP

8 pounds ripe tomatoes

1 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 inches stick cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 teaspoon celery seeds

3 whole allspice

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Set up grill as you like it, making sure it is hot and ready to go when needed. Soak any wood needed for making smoke. Halve, core and seed tomatoes. Place wood on flame in grill and place tomato on the grates and cook until the tomatoes are soft and beginning to char. Time will depend on how hot your grill is. When the tomatoes are done, remove from grill and place in a bowl and allow to cool. Peel and discard the skins. If needed, chop the tomatoes coarsely. In a saucepan, mix together the vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, celery seeds and allspice. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Cover and set aside. Put the tomatoes and onion in a large pot. Note depth of product in pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for an hour. Process through a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until smooth. Stir in sugar and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half from the initial amount in the pot. Strain vinegar mixture, tossing out the solids. Add vinegar mixture and salt to tomato. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes, or until sufficiently thick. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Ladle hot ketchup mixture into hot sterilized half-int canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims and place on lids and screwbands. Process in a hot water bath canner for 15 minutes, after the water starts boiling. Remove jars from canner. Should make 4 half-pint jars.

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