Did you know ketchup was not historically made from tomatoes? I didn't- although as I initially told my farmwife, I also didn't think it was particularly interesting. When I went a-Googling, I was expecting to find a culinary history full of stone fruits and maybe berries, but apparently tomato-ketchup's original ancestor was a 17th century Chinese condiment made of pickled fish and spices. Yes white people- we stole ketchup. Also, the early British versions were made primarily from mushrooms (!) and sometimes walnuts. Today's second most available commercial ketchup? A banana version that hails from the Phillipines. What? Why did we get stuck with Heinz? Kellie, I apologize- this is actually fascinating.
[Other things my farmwife has been right about this week; that our ducks would eventually get over their fear of the door, and that I should not talk about Al Franken while holding breakable objects.]
After all of that, plum ketchup probably seems like a letdown, but I hope you're still reading because it really is magic.
I've actually never really liked tomato ketchup personally, primarily because I find it too sweet. Yes, I was a weird kid. For some reason, this even sweeter plum version works though- I think it's because plums make sense to me as a sweet sauce in a way tomatoes do not. Maybe it's because I expect plums to be sweet? I can't really explain it. Anyways, the result is sort of a westernized plum sauce (again with the white people stealing, right?), or a fruit based barbecue sauce. My farmwife claims its merits lie in its versatility- it can be used for sweet or savory adaptations, as a BBQ sauce or ice cream topping- but I'm always in favor of cheese. Yesterday I finished the leftovers of an awesome pizza I'll tell you about next week- but you'll have to make some of this first.
One last note- our community has somewhere between seven and six trillion plum trees, and we've subsequently made this with two varieties of plums. So whatever sad plum is still hanging around your November grocery store, I think I've found them a home.
Adapted slightly from An Oregon Cottage
4lbs plums, washed, pitted and cut in half
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (~3/4 cup
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp mustard powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup cider vinegar
Transfer all ingredients to a large heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cook about an hour until thickened. After an hour, puree the sauce with an immersion blender and continue to cook and thicken. At this point, it's your call when it's done- we made ours about the same thickness as regular ketchup this year, but it's up to you.
Meanwhile, prepare jars and a hot water bath for canning- this recipe yields 8 half-pint jars. For canning 101, I seriously recommend this resource.
When your'e ready, ladle the ketchup into the jars (leaving 1/4-inch headspace). Wipe the tops of the jars, attach lids and rings, and process 20* minutes in a hot water bath.
*20 minutes is the sea level timing- we're at some altitude here in Salt Lake and we processed for 30.