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Harvest season boot camp

September 19, 2010

I made ketchup this weekend.

And I wondered, as I simmered the tomatoes into a sticky, red paste, is making your own ketchup the point at which you pass out of semi-reasonable, food preservation hobby-est to full fledged whack job?

It reminded me of how when I was eight my best friend Emylena and I would choke down mouse-sized bites of her mother’s appalling curried kasha and then flee to her bedroom to make paperdolls and nibble multi-colored Necco Wafers, which seemed to undo some of the damage of her mom’s unpalatable meals.

And so I can see how my kidlets look at a box of Annie’s mac’n’cheese like I might look at an airplane ticket to the Hawaiian islands. When I serve the kids my homemade “cheesy noodles,” Rose sighs and asks “is there lettuce and chard and broccoli in here?” (Except she says “chard” like “chawd” and “here” like “hee-yah,” which makes the exchange somewhat cuter). And the answer is always “yes, there are vegetables, eat what you want and leave the rest behind,” which is ignored and results in a small, sticky pile of broccoli teetering on the table beside Rose’s pleasingly homogenous bowl of noodles.

But, I do believe that with exposure, time and maturing taste buds, these kids will grow to love vegetables even earlier than my dad, who was still convinced at 23 that canned peas and corn constituted the full complement of the vegetable food group. (And for the record, Col is a very respectable veggie eater, and these days so is my dad).

But what I’m trying to say is it’s September for goodness sakes, and if you’re ever going to make your own ketchup or pickles or peach salsa, now is the time. Go here to read the latest installment of San Juan Table and learn why spinning the September harvest into December gold sometimes has the funny side effect of Rose developing dreadlocks.

And, go here to enter my Blog-o-versary Giveaway, it’s better than curried kasha!

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Ami permalink
    September 19, 2010 10:33 pm

    Oh Dear! I have wanted to make ketchup FOR-EVAH! As a non-sugar household…. it’s not possible to “find” sugar free ketchup, and so it super sad how infrequently I can slather in on all of Cole’s favorite foods (grilled cheese quesadilla, etc…) Anyhow, I HONOR you for you ketchup adventure, and fully plan on joining your ranks… just…. as soon… as I…. do the dishes, laundry, garden, pack lunch, shower, fix dinner? Ha ha – just kidding, I don’t even need to read your other post to get why rose gets dreadlocks during harvest… except at my house, it’s this weird coating of dirt/berries/??? ground into Cole that doesn’t seem to wash off in a bath….

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 20, 2010 7:31 am

      Ami – I bet you could substitute ALL the sugar for applesauce. Really. Or honey. Do you guys do honey?

  2. September 20, 2010 1:12 am

    When we ran out of our last bottle of ketchup, I didn’t replace it, telling my daughters that we would make our own. Months later, I haven’t attempted it yet. The poor things inquire every so often about it, but I think they’re starting to forget that ketchup exists.

  3. September 20, 2010 6:01 am

    This weekend, we made toothpaste. I think we’re in the same club.

  4. September 20, 2010 7:26 am

    I once looked up the recipe for catsup, but it called for like 25 lbs of tomatoes or something horrifying like that (though I think I have about that much in my kitchen right now, so maybe I’ll join you in whack job land, cause I’m tired of looking for clean yogurt containers with matching lids to freeze them in!)

  5. September 20, 2010 7:34 am

    I’m back to say:
    a) I’m sooooo jealous of those 30 lbs of peaches (and not one bit sorry for your lack of blueberries and raspberries and blackberries)
    b) Where did you get the BPA-free reusable canning lids?
    c) I might just try you catsup recipe, if I can find some limes, quick!

  6. Melissa Neta permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:40 pm

    I love your column!

    And in the continuing saga (hyperbole) that is us reading Eating Animals, Leeor has declared himself vegetarian (again).

    Maybe I’ll even make some peach salsa, though I must admit to some serious canning anxiety . . .

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 20, 2010 2:30 pm

      Melissa, I totally understand Leeor’s position. If it weren’t for Dan hunting we’d probably be vegetarians too, with the occasional wallet-draining splurge on locally raised meat. And, if you want to make the salsa, no reason you can’t freeze it in a ziploc. XO Rachel

  7. September 20, 2010 3:11 pm

    As a committed food preservationist whack job – I think its awesome and no doubt the ketchup is mighty tasty!

  8. September 20, 2010 4:49 pm

    i dunno…if you were making fermented ketchup, then i’d label you a whack job.

  9. September 20, 2010 6:58 pm

    I just made ketchup a couple weeks ago. I’m not sure we are wack-jobs, perhaps just….passionate? I do find the homemade stuff much tastier. And I’d rather be a preserving wack-job than any other sort. :)

  10. September 21, 2010 8:13 am

    we tell the kids that the grated carrot in the cheesy noodles is cheese. they look at us suspiciously. can’t fake the peas, tho.

  11. September 21, 2010 9:37 am

    OK. So if I just keep putting veggies in front of the Critter, one day he’ll actually eat some of them? Our biggest problem, perhaps, is that I take the pile of uneaten vegetables personally.

    Also, though I am miles and miles and miles away from doing anything like making my own ketchup, I don’t think “whack job” so much as “wow, awesome.”

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 22, 2010 11:02 am

      Yup. Just keep putting the veggies on his plate like he’s the luckiest guy around to get a heap of broccoli.

  12. September 21, 2010 9:09 pm

    I’m envious! We haven’t canned ketchup in years, and it’s such a good idea. (It’s one of those hard-to-find-without-corn-syrup sauces.) This year I only did plum jelly – and that’s only because the plums grow wild without my help. Next year, I hope to have a garden. We’ll see whether we’re still in hard hats then!

  13. Steph permalink
    September 22, 2010 10:33 pm

    Thanks for the ketchup recipe you posted on Edible San Juans!!! Not if, but WHEN I get my tomato “seconds”, I am going to make some ketchup! I think it’s empowering, not wacky, to make your own condiments at home (and other grocery store staples, for that matter. I feel SO cool for having made granola and yogurt almost weekly for my family over the past several months!).

  14. September 23, 2010 12:58 pm

    Amazing! You’ve been so busy. I’m so impressed. Have you tried making ketchup with agave instead of sugar?!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 26, 2010 2:55 pm

      Jennifer,

      I haven’t but I’m sure you could use agave or honey in place of sugar.

  15. September 23, 2010 5:14 pm

    please please never stop sharing yer words and yer wisdom and yer recipes. hope all of you are well – congrats to dan!
    much love,
    k

  16. Emily permalink
    October 2, 2010 5:20 pm

    my kids beg for the box of Annie’s too. In the grocery store. often with an edge of panic in their voices.

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