December 09, 2011

Roasted Pepper Ketchup

I have a confession to make. I've had a bad attitude about canning in the city ever since I moved here. Don't get me wrong, I love canning and I have big aspirations to grow most of my own food one day in the near future and hopefully become an expert canner. But Toronto gives me canner's block. You see, I come from a place in Nova Scotia where we're surrounded by wild blackberries, crabapples, mountains of zucchinis in every garden, U-picks down the road, and a farmer's market overflowing with organic local goodness. Nova Scotia is a canner's paradise and in the summer, I get incredibly homesick in the big city. It's not that there's no good local organic produce to be had in Toronto, far from it, there is a thriving food movement with farmer's markets and all kinds of urban farming projects. Thankfully, this fall something happened that broke down my sad case of canner's block and knocked my bad attitude on its ass. I met Tonya is what happened. 

I met Tonya on an Urban Garden Veg Tour I went on back in September, organized by a friend of a friend. The tour meandered through the west end with veggie gardeners opening up their yards to the public. I was completely blown away by the lush harvest that Torontonians are reaping. From the deck on top of her car garage, Tonya had over 110 recycling bins filled with healthy thriving veggies. I found her determination to produce her own food right here in the big city completely inspiring. When I saw her jaw-dropping peppers (which you'll see in the video), I had to know what she had in mind for them. And when I heard the passion in her voice as she talked about canning and transforming her garden's harvest into delicious food for her family, I couldn't resist inviting myself over to film her cooking a batch of roasted pepper ketchup. 

Roasted Pepper Ketchup from Kitchen Vignettes on Vimeo.

(I didn't include it in the video, but I have to point out that while making the roasted red pepper ketchup, Tonya was simultaneously cooking up a giant batch of fig and balsamic vinegar jam which bubbled away on the stove all afternoon and made the kitchen smell like heaven. She gave me a jar to take home which I've been savouring with cheeses and trying to make last for as long as possible. Yum!)

From the book Put ‘em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton 

2 pounds tomatoes
2 pounds red bell peppers
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves

Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute. Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching the tomatoes in batches. Remove from the ice bath and drain. Peel, core, and crush the tomatoes. 

Char the bell peppers in a hot oven (around 475 C ) until charred around the edges. Put into paper bags to make them "sweat" which will make it easier to remove the skins. Roughly chop.

Combine the tomato pulp, chopped peppers, onion, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender. Return the puree to the heat and simmer over low heat until thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the heat.

Can using the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.


  1. Wow! This Blog is sooo inspiring Thank you!

  2. Mmmmmm!!!!! I don't know how I skipped this post. Definitely inspiring now that my deck is largely my outdoor space!