On Saturday I was in Leamington Ontario, home of the Heinz brand, and a community long famous for tomatoes including its tourist information booth called the Big Tomato. I was able to buy some field tomatoes even though in 2012 Leamington has become better known for its green houses and hothouse grown veggies. Today’s recipe, contributed by Miss N. Decker, in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book is Catsup . What better tribute could I find for Leamington’s tomatoes?
My first task was to determine if I had a “peck” of tomatoes. A peck is a dry volume measurement and at one time fruits and vegetables were sold by the pint, peck, and bushel. Think Peter Piper and his peck of pickled peppers. Like most of these measurements there is an Imperial version and a US version. This gets complicated in Canada since officially we used Imperial measures but with cook books, recipes, and people often coming from the US it is hard to know what measurement was used in this and other recipes. A peck is a quarter of a bushel. I found a reference that helped me calculate there would be about 12 pounds of tomatoes in a peck. I don’t have that many so I am cutting the recipe in half.
I began by weighing my tomatoes and found I had six pounds. I washed the tomatoes and cut them into chunks. These tomatoes were more like the tomatoes I remembered as a child. They were ripe, soft, and the flesh was red just like the outside of the tomato instead of pale and coarse. The tomato chunks went into a saucepan with 1/2 a tablespoon of the various spices plus 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar. I left everything to simmer for over an hour. I skimmed out the tomato skin. I had not bothered to peel them since I knew the skins would be easy to remove once cooked.
I wrote quite a bit about Miss Nellie Decker when I tried her cream candy recipe on Day 247. She and much of her family worked in local factories. This catsup would be a big hit with all her brothers and sisters
Modern ketchup is much sweeter and thicker than the ketchups/catsups of the past. I liked this catsup and would make it again.
1 peck ripe tomatoes, 4 large onions, 3 cups vinegar, 6 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon cloves, 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 tablespoon allspice.