Tomato products are by no means the least of America's diet, but you can miss that because they appear on our dinner tables in so many forms. Two of them stand out by quantity, if nothing else, and I must admit that I am definitely attached to one of them: tomato ketchup. I love it, put it on meat and other dishes (much to the consternation of my late mother). In her younger days she was actually given a recipe for ketchup, which most of us don't think of making today, but she had one and I have it now.
You could make ketchup on a lazy afternoon or evening while you do other things, from just watching television or while doing housework. You might be baking bread for the coming week and also have a little pot of tomato sauce turning itself into ketchup at the same time.
We can also buy our favorite brands of ketchup in organic versions, including Heinz and Hunt's, and those relatively-new arrivals are great candidates for home-made barbecue sauce, which has its position on the Big Six because of the volume it makes up in our diets. Take a look at the number of barbecue sauces on the supermarket shelves--any Tucson supermarket. Then begin picking them up and reading the ingredients. Try to fine one, just one, that doesn't list high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. Frequently it is the first ingredient listed! That means that the sauce in that bottle contains HFCS as the highest-quantity part of the sauce.
Once in awhile, nowadays, we are seeing commercials announcing that a certain product no longer contains HFCS. The latest that I have seen is Gogurt, which is now using only normal sweeteners and fruit flavors from actual fruit. Good for them; if I were buying dairy yogurt I might check it out.
I can recommend the barbecue sauce that was devised by Giada de Laurentiis for her cooking programs. Her sauce is a sort of balance between the tomato-based Southern barbecue sauce that we see in the bottles at the store, and the vinegar-based sauces that are favored in states such as South Carolina. You can look it up on the Food Network or find innumerable recipes for barbecue sauce online. My favorite is a Kansas-City-red sauce that I found online, just as I recommend.
But for those of us who really love ketchup, you can try this once in awhile, when you feel like the television commercial: you're worth it.
TOMATO MEAT RELISH
6 pounds organic tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut up
2 cups organic apple cider vinegar
2 cups granulated organic blonde sugar
2 Tablespoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons ground organic cinnamon
2 Tablespoons ground organic cloves
Combine everything in a thick-bottomed pot and bring it to the lowest possible boil.
Cook it, stirring to prevent sticking and to break up the tomatoes, until it looks like conventional ketchup.
Turn off the heat and transfer the ketchup to freezer or airtight containers. Store frozen or refrigerated between uses.
Here's a review of skinning a tomato: boil a pot of water. While it is heating, cut an X in the bottom end of each tomato. Plunge them a few at a time into the boiling water and remove them after 20-30 seconds. Place them in a bowl to cool slightly. Keep the water at the boil, by the way, not putting in so many tomatoes that it cools down.
When all the tomatoes are ready, peel them one by one. The skins will slip off easily.
Cut the tomatoes across and squeeze them to remove the seeds. Cut out the stem ends and chop them roughly.
Don't use Bragg's apple cider vinegar for this recipe. It is meant to be used in recipes like salad dressing because it contains live cultures. Regular apple cider vinegar is fine for this recipe.