Ingredient SpotLight

It's what makes burgers and fries the stuff of legends and has saved many a parent the dread of throwing away food. It's ketchup and it is a condiment that's found in many homes throughout the country.

While it's best known for elevating a burger and fries to an American tradition, ketchup has also been known to show up on everything from eggs to cottage cheese (Richard Nixon is rumored to like his smothered in it). While we recognize ketchup (or catsup ... both spellings are acceptable) as that tomato based sauce that tops our hot dogs, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was used to refer to any number of sauces that had vinegar as one of its ingredients.

Of course, in America, ketchup often means Heinz ... and with good reason. Over 50% of the ketchup sold in the United States is made by Heinz ... and they've recently introduced versions in green and purple! (Just in case you're wondering, the colored varieties are still basic tomato ketchup ... no cucumber or anchovy varieties like the 18th and 19th centuries!)

While I could easily get out of offering you recipes this month by recommending that you use ketchup to top your favorite burger or as a dip for those fries, I'm thinking that you would like a recipe for homemade ketchup and another treat that takes advantage of it as an ingredient: Grilled Sweet and Sour Shrimp. Enjoy!

Homemade Ketchup

  • 4 cups tomatoes -- chopped
  • 3/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups onion -- chopped
  • 1 green pepper -- chopped
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar

Combine the tomatoes, tomato paste, onion and green pepper in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes.

Either blend the mixture in the saucepan using a stick blender or carefully transfer it to a blender to blend. If using a blender, return the mixture to the saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture into hot sterilized 1-pint jars and seal. Process the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

  • Yields: About 3 pints
  • Preparation Time: 90 minutes

Grilled Sweet and Sour Shrimp

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 pounds large shrimp (35 to 40) -- peeled and deveined
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk the ketchup, pineapple juice, white wine, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and chili-garlic sauce until the sugar dissolves. Add the shrimp and submerge them in the liquid. Marinate the shrimp in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and refrigerate them until you are ready to grill.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook the mixture until about 1 cup of the liquid remains. Allow it to cool at room temperature.

Prepare a grill for high heat grilling. Lightly coat the shrimp with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until the shrimp are barely firm and just opaque in the center, 3 to 5 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a platter. Pour the cooked marinade into a small bowl and serve as a dipping sauce for the warm shrimp.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 90 minutes