Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Touch of the Islands- Hot and Spicy Banana Ketchup

This ketchup was "discovered" on a trip to the beautiful island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean.  It's thick and spicy, fragrant of bananas and island spices, warmed by rum and perfect to top burgers, complement roasted or BBQ'd meats.  Definitely not the store-bought tomato ketchup we grew up with!

Fragrant, very ripe, but not mushy, bananas are the base for this ketchup.  This recipe will make a medium spicy ketchup- you can add more cayenne if you like it hotter.  But be cautious not to overpower the fruitiness.

I like to let my ketchup simmer gently at the back of the stove- its spicy aroma wafting through the kitchen.

This recipe makes approximately 7 cups.

1 cup     dried apricots
3/4 cup  chopped onion
4 large   garlic cloves, peeled
2/3 cup  tomato paste (1 small can)
2 2/3 cups cider vinegar
3 lbs      very ripe, fragrant bananas (about 8 large)
4 to 6 cups  water
1 cup     brown sugar, light or dark
1 tbsp    sea salt
1 tsp      cayenne pepper
1/2 cup  corn syrup
4 tsp      ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp  ground nutmeg
1 tsp      fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup  dark rum

Combine the apricots, onion, garlic and tomato paste in a blender or food processor and puree until sooth, adding vinegar if needed.  Place the mixture into a preserving pan.

Peel the bananas and cut into chunks.  Puree them, adding vinegar if needed.  Add the oared bananas to the pan.  Add the remaining vinegar, 4 cups of water, brown sugar, salt and cayenne.

/bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.  Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the ketchup, uncovered fir 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.  If it begins to stick add a little more water as needed, up to 2 cups.

Add the corn syrup, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and cloves.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently for fifteen minutes longer or until it coats a metal spoon.  You can also spoon a little ketchup onto a saucer.  If no liquid (or very little) emerge from the liquid, your ketchup is ready.  If it doesn't pass the test, resume cooking.

Puree the ketchup again until very smooth.  Rinse out the pan and return the ketchup to it.  Taste for hotness and add more red or black pepper, or more vinegar or sugar.  Be careful about adding allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon or cloves as these flavours will strengthen with age and could overpower the fruit.

Bring to a boil again, stirring constantly.  Add the rum and remove from the heat.  Ladle the boiling hot ketchup into hot, clean jars- I use a combination of 125 ml and 250 ml jars.  Leave 1/2 inch headspace.  Seal with two-piece canning lids and process the 250 ml jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes  and the 125 ml jars for 10 minutes. Cool, label and store the jars.  Your ketchup is ready to use in about two weeks and will continue to improve with age.  Use up your supply within one year.

Wanna play?  Try substituting the dried apricots with dark or light raisins.

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