cooking with kids: homemade ketchup

Tomatoes are one of Ethan's favorite foods and, no surprise, ketchup is probably also at the top of that last. This kid has always loved to dip everything and for that reason, we go through a lot of "red dip" (as Ethan calls it) in our house. I usually buy the organic ketchups that don't have high-fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list, but even so, you're still getting a bunch of junk and sugar and dyes and preservatives. And even more than I dislike the yucky stuff, I love, love, love sharing time in the kitchen with Ethan. Cooking with Ethan and watching him explore the fun of preparing his own food is such a special time. What better way to have some all-day fun in the kitchen than whipping up a big batch of homemade ketchup?! I say "all day" because we made our ketchup in the crock pot. It was the perfect rainy day activity that was ready to be enjoyed by dinnertime!

You'll need 2.5 lbs overripe tomatoes, with the skins on. (And, if you're anything like Ethan, go ahead and sample them. You know, for quality assurance.)

Washing the tomatoes and pulling off the stickers are perfect tasks for little hands to do themselves.

Ethan got to work chopping up the tomatoes (leave the skins on!). The knife he uses is from Montessori Services for just over $2.

Once the tomatoes are chopped, you toss them in the crock pot along with:

1/2c water
1/3c organic cane sugar
1/4c honey
1/2c distilled white vinegar
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
4 tbsp organic tomato paste

Combine the ingredients and let simmer (we used the 6 hour heating option). Stir occasionally and use the back of a wooden spoon to mash up the tomatoes as they soften.

About four hours into cooking, I ladeled the tomato mixture into the Blendtec to puree it smooth. If you have an immersion blender, you can use it instead.

Six hours into cooking, our ketchup was ready! First, I let it cool (cold ketchup is a must, Ethan informed me) and then bottled it. I had an empty barbecue sauce bottle and (coincidentally) an empty ketchup bottle on hand. These were the perfect sized bottles for the amount of ketchup this recipe makes!

(Don't mind our table -- Ethan was busy playing with Mars Mud at the same time)

And there you have it, ketchup!

I think I was most impressed by how delicious it actually was. Ethan couldn't wait to enjoy some at dinnertime.

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