Ketchup is a funny thing. Unlike mustard, what with its endless parade of varieties, ketchup is pretty much just ketchup. Different brands and packaging, sure, but they are but variations on a very specific theme. Smarter minds than mine have delved into that particular conundrum. (something to do with the perfect balance of salty, sweet & umami) I hadn’t really given it much thought until last summer when the spring issue of Edible Twin Cities featured rhubarb on the cover. Flipping though, I found recipes for rhubarb sauce, coffee cake and ketchup. Ketchup? Well, it does make a certain amount of sense. Even though the world has pretty much universally decided to add gobs of sugar, treat it like a fruit and bake it into pies, it is after all, a vegetable.
As it turns out, we loved it so much we made it over and over again last year. At one point, we even scooped double serving sizes into cupcake wrappers and put them in the freezer to last us through the winter.
As we’re still (somewhat) in rhubarb season, it seemed like a good time to share the recipe. It was a wonderful compliment to the Local Bacon Burger Dogs (and also to their low-brow cousin, pigs in a blanket. …not that we have a fondness for pillsbury breadstick wrapped hebrew national beef franks. that would be ridiculous. tasty, and ridiculous. but hey, if they show up in the house and demand to be dinner, who are we to argue?). We pretty much use it anywhere you’d find ‘regular’ ketchup.
Rhubarb Ketchupadapted from the Lanesboro’s Bethlehem Lutheran Church youth group’s recipe featured in Edible Twin Cities
4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
4 cups chopped sweet onions (2-3 small-medium onions)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
One 26-ounce box of chopped tomatoes, undrained*
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pickling spice (tied in a cheesecloth bag**)
- Mix all your ingredients together in a large pot (making sure it’s a non-reactive one), and bring them to a boil
- Reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour
- Take off heat, and remove pickling spice bag
- For a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender to a blend it to a more uniform texture.
* Original recipe calls for a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes. We just happen to like the Pomi better when we can’t get fresh.
** We were out of cheesecloth, so I used a fillable paper tea filters instead. I’ll never go back to cheesecloth.
It has an earthy fruitiness to it that is at once recognizably ketchupy, but not nearly as acidic tasting in my opinion. Obviously, it doesn’t pack the same sweet tomato punch you get with a mass-produced high fructose corn syrup version. Instead, the brown sugar lends a subtle molasses sweetness. With a bit of smoke flavor, we think it would easily morph into a really good BBQ sauce.