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My husband and I live in a tiny neighborhood, with some really great neighbors.  Occasionally, one of the neighbors has an excess of vegetables in their garden and they share some with us.  That is how I got green beans and wax beans to can, as well as cucumbers for this dill pickle relish.  One evening our neighbor brought over some beans, and we began chatting about tomatoes.  She mentioned that she makes catsup and she and her husband love it!  They never buy store-bought ketchup anymore.  So, I asked her for the recipe, just for something different to try, and she copied it down and brought it over a few nights later.

I am not a huge ketchup person.  I do not dip French fries in it, and I do not usually put it on my cheeseburgers.  But this recipe is a different story.  It is SO GOOD!  My aunt and uncle stopped in while we were canning, and my aunt tried a little leftover catsup from the bottom of the stock pot.  She was pretty impressed with the flavor!

The spices add a warmth to the catsup, while the vinegar gives it a bite.

The original recipe that my neighbor was given had an unreal amount of sugar in it.  She cut the sugar in half for her recipe, and we reduced it even more!  There is a hint of sweetness to the catsup, but it is not overwhelming.

This recipe starts with 6 quarts of tomato juice, which needs to be reduced by half.  It takes time!  Everything with tomatoes takes time!  Once it is reduced, all of the ingredients listed below get added.  Then, the mixture needs to be simmered for about 10 minutes to allow it to thicken again, as the vinegar thins the sauce.

I love cooking foods containing cloves and allspice!  They make the entire kitchen smell warm and spicy!  This recipe is no different!  That fall aroma spread through the air as the catsup was simmering.

I was a little concerned about the texture of the catsup.  As tomato sauce thickens, it gets a bit chunky.  I thought we may need to use the immersion blender to get the smooth consistency I was looking for.  But the vinegar took care of the texture issue and the end result was a smooth product.

After we simmered the catsup for about 10 minutes, we decided to thicken it with corn starch.  My neighbor freezes her catsup, and she thickens it right before they are ready to use it.  We decided to do it now, so we can just grab it off the shelf, put it in the fridge, and it is ready to use!  We took a little of the tomato mixture out of the pot, mixed it with 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch.  Once all of the little chunks were whisked out, we poured it back into the pot and whisked until everything was mixed well.  We repeated this process 3 times (using 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch total) until we reached the desired thickness.  If you thicken the catsup just before using it, the recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch per pint of catsup.

This recipe is very tasty!  And I love that I know where the tomatoes came from and exactly what ingredients are going into each jar.  I love that it is hard work, but in the end, you can look at those dark red jars and know that you made that.  It is a neat concept.

So there you have it!  Tomato week comes to an end!  If you missed any recipes, here are links to my tomato soup recipe, spaghetti sauce recipe, and pizza sauce recipe.  You can also find them all on Pinterest to save for next year.  Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you give some of these recipes a try!  If you do try them, I would love to hear how they turn out!

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