Ketchup is its own food group for most children. My grand-girlies were very excited about making their own ketchup, especially with tomatoes grown in Grandpa’s garden. I found a simple recipe that I was able to adapt to sugar-free.
We started with chopping the tomatoes, onions, and peaches. The peaches are the secret to this sugar-free recipe.
The girls are using special plastic children’s knives that I purchased for them to learn cutting skills. Nora is doing a great job with cutting vegetables.
Always trying to keep up with big sister, Ilona is able to use the knives without danger of serious injury from cuts. She is very intense concentrating on every cut. She most mangles the tomatoes but for ketchup, that is perfect.
After the tomatoes, onions, and peaches are all rough-chopped, they go into the pot and cooked to mush. This takes a while and doesn’t always hold the interest of little ones.
Today two had a longer attention span than five or maybe she just likes sitting on the kitchen counter and feeling like a big girl.
After the vegetables are cooked through, we needed to strain out the seeds and skins. Nora used my grandmother’s cone strainer with the wooden pestle. (I remember using it to make jams and such when I was a little girl.)
Ilona used my more modern food mill since the cranking movement was a little easier for her two-year-old arms and hands. She was very insistent that she could do it by herself.
After it was all strained, we poured it back into the pot (that I had rinsed out) and added the rest of the ingredients. Nora poured in the vinegar and the salt, and Ilona dropped in the spice ball. They stirred for a few minutes but lost interest and went outside to help wash cars.
The cooking does take a bit longer than most kids’ attention spans, about 90 minutes. So they went off to play and I made sure that it got stirred every 15 minutes until it was thickened and well-flavored with the spices.
The ketchup was poured into 4- and 8-ounce jars and sealed. We made a very small batch that will get eaten quickly so I didn’t put them into a water bath like I will when I make a larger batch in a week or two.
- 7 pounds of tomatoes (I used a variety of whatever was ripe in the garden.)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 ripe peaches, pitted (rinse and towel off the fuzz or use nectarines)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste as the ketchup cooks and thickens
- 4 teaspoons pickling spice
- Wash the vegetables and fruits, towel dry.
- Rough chop vegetables and fruits. Place in a soup kettle. I used a six-quart kettle)
- Cook until very soft (about 30 minutes).
- Using a food mill, pass the mixture through to puree it. Discard the seeds and skins.
- Rinse the pan and place the puree in it.
- Add the cider vinegar and salt to the puree. Put the pickling spices into a square of cheesecloth tied with a string or into a tea infuser, and add to the puree.
- Cook over low heat until reduced by half and the thickness is what you want.
- Discard the pickling spices.
- Ladle into hot prepared jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Use a non-metallic utensil to remove any air bubble, wipe rims clean and seal with lids and rings.
- Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the jars from the hot water canner and let cook for about 12 hours. Refrigerate any jars that don't seal properly and use within 3 to 4 weeks.
We had great fun and lots of giggles in the kitchen today. I enjoy letting them help do what they can, and finishing up when they get “tired.” I hope that they will have wonderful memories of our times in the kitchen like I do of my time with my grandma! They have their own kitchen tools and aprons that are always ready in my kitchen.
Do you have little people that want to “help” you? Say yes and let them do what they can and what is age appropriate. Two-year-olds are great at unwrapping cubes of butter when making cookies and five-year-olds are able to accurately measure dry ingredients and crack eggs. You won’t regret those shared moments nor seeing their sense of confidence grow!
I love sharing and handing down my heart 4 home!