Tomato Sauce AKA Ketchup – sugar free!

Tomato sauce and ketchup are arguably not quite the same thing, but you get the drift – some combination of tomatoes and spices, a thick sweet savory sauce to splodge onto a burger, garnish a sizzled sausage, and dunk a hot chip into. Why not make your own, and make it (refined) sugar free! The sweetness here comes from slow cooking the tomatoes, the warm spices, and the addition of some tart plums or apples.

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You don’t need to make an early morning trip to Flemington markets for 20kg of fresh ripe tomatoes, but it you can, I do recommend it! If you have any access to cheap bulk fresh local produce in autumn, you can make a batch of jars of tomato goodness that will store a little summer sun for the winter months ahead (for just a few dollars – going rate was about $5/10kg box last weekend).

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You also don’t need to be an expert to preserve fresh foods, it’s much easier and less scary than it seems, sterilization of jars requires boiling water and rubber-tipped tongs, clean tea towels. Asbestos fingers are handy if you have them (not a product, just fingers that are used to high temps!). I’ve sterilized my jars in the oven in the past, but I’ve been doing a combo of boiling water bath and very hot produce, tightly lidded then turned upside down to cool, which seems to get a perfect seal on the jar and keep everything happy. Follow your own favorite method, or refrigerate this sauce (make in smaller quantities).

Tomato Sauce – sugar free!

Halve approximately 7 kg fresh ripe tomatoes, sprinkle liberally with a few big pinches of salt then slow roast in a large tray in a low oven for 8 hours OR cook in a slow-cooker/crockpot for 24 hours or so. The toms can be roasted/cooked ahead if schedule requires interrupted sauce making.

Roughly chop, then in a large pot, sauté 6-8 (or more) garlic cloves, 1-2 large onions, 1 fennel bulb and 1 red capsicum. Add in 1/2tsp yellow mustard seeds, 3 cloves, 2tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp celery seeds, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1tsp cayenne pepper and a good grinding of black pepper (2tsp?), stir about and allow spices to become fragrant and veggies to soften. Add 2 plums (or apples) roughly chopped up, and a cup or so water, bubble away until everything is soft – 10-15mins should do it.

At this point you want to add the cooked tomatoes including any liquids, and blend the sauce, then return the blended sauce to the pot to continue cooking. You can either transfer everything to the tomatoes receptacle, then blend, in batches, in a food processor or blender, returning blended portions to the pot, or use a stick immersion blender straight in the pot. Either way, BEWARE hot liquids and high speed machinery! Caution required here.

Return blended sauce to heat, continue to cook, stirring regularly for another 10-15minutes, sauce will thicken nicely. Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Taste test for salt, spice – add more salt, pepper and cayenne if desired.

Jar that business up while piping hot. Use a variety of sizes jars – make some tiny one-meal ones for fish-and-chips on the cliffs or taking to BBQs. Store cooled and sealed jars in a cool dark spot. Refrigerate once open. Enjoy!

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