According to Harold McGee, in his seminal book McGee on Food and Cooking, modern ketchup as a sweet-sour tomato condiment owes it’s name to kecap, an Indonesian salty fish condiment. These Asian soy and fish sauces were brought back to England thanks to the commercial activities of the East India Company in the 17th Century, and our familiar tomato ketchup is a sweetened version of salty, vinegary, spicy tomato preserves of the time.
Given the ubiquity and value of a bottle of Heinz ketchup, making your own home-made ketchup only really makes sense if you have a green-house, or somewhere similar, that you can grow your own tomatoes, or else if you’re a masochistic chef who needs to make every element of a meal before they put in on the table. Jamie Oliver has a straight-forward recipe for making your own tomato ketchup in his book Jamie at Home – in this instance I used Santini tomatoes.
Place a chopped large red onion, half a bulb of fennel trimmed and chopped, a stick of celery trimmed and chopped, a thumb-sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped, two cloves of garlic peeled and sliced, half a red chilli deseeded and finely chopped, the stalks only from a bunch of basil, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, 2 cloves, and a good splash of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add about 1kg of tomatoes and 350ml of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half.
Add the leaves from the bunch of basil, then whizz in a food processor or with a hand blender, and pass through a sieve into a clean pan. Add 200ml red wine vinegar and 70g soft brown sugar and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. Correct the seasoning to taste.
Spoon the ketchup into sterilized jars and seal tightly. Keep them in the fridge until needed (up to about six months). We had some of ours with steak and home-made char-grilled chips and a handful of rocket!