– by Kristy Apostolides
Want a 58th variety? Heinz thinks you will. By the end of this summer, supermarket shelves everywhere will be stocked with Heinz Organic Ketchup. The decision to produce an organic version of this nation?s favorite condiment came as a result of increased consumer demand for organic products. Heinz, like so many other major food companies, saw a new marketing niche and jumped on the organic bandwagon. Organic ketchup is the most recent Heinz condiment innovation, which also includes obviously-not-organic orange and mystery colored ketchup for kids, developed in an effort to increase sales in a relatively flat market.
Sporting a green version of the signature keystone label, the new condiment is organic according to the USDA standards. Tomatoes processed into this variety are grown far from New York in Escalon, California, using USDA certified techniques, which may or may not add up to the common consumer understanding of organic.
As the word organic appears more frequently on supermarket shelves, the meaning behind the word organic becomes less clear. Are organic products that carry a brand name up to par with locally produced food products? Are large manufacturers with fields in California cutting into a market that could be secured by our own local, small-scale growers and processors? The answer to all this uncertainty rests in your own kitchen. You can contribute to positive social change though ketchup by using the likely plethora of locally grown tomatoes over the next few weeks to make your own. You can even put on a ‘green’ label?
16 medium tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/4 tsp. red pepper
3/4 tsp. whole cloves
3/4 tsp. Stick cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Whole allspice
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. Salt
Combine tomatoes, onions and red pepper. Cook 20 minutes then strain through sieve. Add sugar and cook until volume is reduced by 1/2 (about 1 1/4 hours).
Meanwhile, bring to a boil vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, celery seeds, and salt. Cool.
When cool, strain and add to tomato mixture and boil while stirring until thick, about 1/2 hour. Place ketchup in sterilized jars and seal. Immerse jars completely in water and boil for about 15 minutes. Remove and cool jars. Makes 1 pint.
Adapted from Farm Journal’s Freezing & Canning Cookbook. 1964. Doubleday.