Homemade Ketchup

Since my post about making tomato paste, I felt I needed to show at least one of the cool uses of tomato paste. The most common and, in my opinion the easiest use, is home made ketchup.

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I start off with measuring out my dry spices and dumping them into a bowl. I find that 1/2 tsp of each is more than enough. For this recipe I used salt, black pepper, cumin, ground mustard and ground oregano. Feel free to mix and match different spices for different flavored ketchup.

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next I add 1/4 a cup of apple cider vinegar and mix everything well. If you need to use less vinegar, compensate by adding water. This 1/4 cup of liquids is what helps give the ketchup the right consistency.

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Using a whisk I add in a couple of spoonful of tomato paste into the bowl and mix well. And repeat until I have used enough tomato paste to achieve a nice consistency.

This time though I had made just enough tomato paste to fill this little mason jar so I added a little at a time until I ran out of tomato paste. Once you are done mixing you can use the ketchup right away or store in a container and refrigerate.

Tomato Paste

This year’s garden didn’t do so great. Mostly due to not great weather. We lost our zucchini to being over watered by the amount of rain we got. The green bean barely had a chance to produce a few beans before the plants died for the season. Luckily though the tomato plant is one that was definitely a late bloomer but definitely got a good harvest out of it! This year I grew heirloom roma tomatoes which are perfect for turning into homemade tomato paste!

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Here is my first batch of freshly picked tomatoes for the season! To get started with this recipe the tomatoes need to be thoroughly rinsed to remove any debris from the skins. I do not peel my tomatoes before cooking so it is important to clean the skins well.

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Next I remove the stems if there are any and slice each tomato in half and remove the seeds. Once each tomato has been prepared, it goes into the pot on medium heat.

I allow the tomatoes to break down into a nice tomato sauce consistency before I carefully ladle everything through a mesh strainer and into a heat resistance bowl.  This gets all the tomato skins and any stray seeds out of the tomato sauce.

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Once all the tomato skins have been removed, the tomato sauce goes back into the pot to cook some more. At this point you want to evaporate as much water as you can out of the tomatoes.It should have a soft paste-like consistency, typically it takes about 30 minutes to achieve this consistency. If you want to season this tomato sauce with anything now is the time to do it. Normally I add a little bit of ground black pepper, salt , and oregano. But feel free to add or omit any seasonings.20190929_2004573372372794616261983.jpg

After 30 minutes, remove the tomato paste from the pot and spared evenly on the bottom of a shallow pan. I used a squared glass Pyrex for this and it worked out really well. You want to spread out as evenly as possible because this will be going into the oven. Uneven layer will cause thinner spots to burn and thicker spots to hold onto more moisture. Once you have the tomato paste spread out as evenly as possible place it into a preheated 200 degree oven. This will slowly evaporate more of the liquid out of the tomatoes and concentrate the tomato flavor. Check and mix every 15 minutes so that the tomato paste does not burn. Typically this takes about an hour and a half until you achieve a paste consistency. Remove from oven and allow it to cool down before putting the tomato paste into a storage container. Tomato paste has many different applications in cooking. Stick around for part 2, Homemade Ketchup!

 

 

 

Gardening Phase 2

Its been a very rainy and cold April and May for Michigan. We finally had a nice weather day on a weekend and I took full advantage of it. My family and I started by hitting up my favorite greenhouse and nursery to pick out our plants for this year.

We ended up leaving with a ginger ficus bonsai tree, Bush green beans, zucchini, “trusty rusty” coleus, roma tomato, and cayenne chili pepper for gardening at our home. For my Grandma’s house we pick up a flat of white and a flat of purple alyssum flowers.

Then, like a crazy person, planted everything, at both houses, in 1 afternoon. Normally I would break this up between 2 days but the weather forecast had thunder storms, flood watches, and tornado warnings. So we had a mad dash to get everything in the ground before bedtime. The good thing though is that since the weather was horrible I had the entire day to treat my extra sore muscles.

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This is my new vegetable garden! We had added some wood fencing, since gardening phase 1, to the sides to help with keeping the critters away from my veggies. The only additions we plan to make from here is a little rain guard. The water the dripping off the roof of our home is a little forceful for these young plants.  We also plan to stain the sides so it looks pretty.

One of the green beans needed a little TLC. The stem was a bit bent over because it could not support the weight of the leaves.

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Since it did not actually break the stem I was able to get some crafting sticks and a pipe cleaner to support the stem so that it can repair itself. It very important to have the stick wrapped tight enough that it wont easily fall off, but not so tight that the stem is being crunched by the sticks. Th is trick works for most young plants.

After we planted the veggies we saw that we had 1 more spot open for a single plant. My fiance and I went back to the greenhouse early in the morning to pick out a jalapeno plant. I had just enough time to get the jalapeno home and in the ground before the rain started up.


Gardening at my Grandma’s house has been an interesting situation for me. Some days I get a lot of things done and sometimes I’m just really depressed to be there. In the end though its still very weird doing  gardening without a shadow behind me telling me that I’m doing things the wrong way.

It felt kind of silly to plant a vegetable garden in my normal veggie garden space. Instead I decided to fill in this space with white and and purple alyssum flowers.

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I felt that alyssum were a good choice for some ground cover around the Peony bush. Especially since I am not really a fan of petunias or begonias. It was a lot of working trying to figure out how much space to leave each plant while trying to fit all of the plants into the garden space. I like the end result I just hope that these flowers continue to grow instead of just die in the upcoming summer heat.

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While we were there I was able to dig out and move a Rose of Sharon bush. Last Fall, Grandpa had decided which one I should have and which one my mom should have. We had decided that spring would be better to relocate the plants to give them a little more time to grow and mature before such a drastic change. So I up-rooted mine and moved it to my home.

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I assure you it is growing perfectly fine. Last year this particular bush kept getting snagged on anything that was remotely close to it. I guess it learned it lesson because it is trying to shed the wonky parts and grow all straight and nice.

By the time the rain storm hit, I had put around 80 plants into the ground in pretty much 1 day. Man was I so sore the next few days! But now I can sit back and watch the plants grown while I try to decide on what I should make with my upcoming harvest.

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