Who knew ketchup (Or catsup; to each his own!) was so full of subtle spice, and so well balanced with such sweet and tart notes? Try the fresh, bright flavor of this homemade version and you will never take the quintessential American condiment for granted again!

(Makes about 1 1/2 quarts ketchup)

4 pounds ripe organic tomatoes, washed and stems removed
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (optional)
4-6 cloves garlic
Spiced vinegar (recipe below)
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes into large chunks. Distribute the tomatoes, onions, red pepper and garlic on a baking sheet.

Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the onions are lightly caramelized. While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare your spiced vinegar.

Puree the tomatoes, onions, red pepper and garlic very finely in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve into a heavy pot.

Strain the spice vinegar mixture into the tomato puree (discard the whole spices), add the paprika and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture has reduced by about half and mounds in a spoon. It will thicken as it cools. Season with additional salt if needed.

Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars with sterilized lids and refrigerate. It will keep in your refrigerator for about a month. (Or you may preserve it by classic canning methods.)

Spiced vinegar:
1 cup apple cider or your favorite vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick cinnamon, crushed
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute, remove from the heat and let steep for 20-30 minutes.

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