Some of you know the Edwards family in Illinois and have had the great pleasure of eating their delicious produce. This recipe and pictures comes from Ethan Edwards.
Three Day Catsup
This is another recipe that was handed down from my grandmother, Ida Knobeloch. It
makes an amazingly tasty catsup. I just finished a double batch last week. This recipe
ends up making about 8-9 pints, but there’s a great deal of acceptable variation in
exactly the quantities used, so one should have confidence in increasing or decreasing
Cut up tomatoes to make five gallons. Put in crock or enamel canner and add 1 cup of
canning salt and mix well.
Tomatoes cut and salted
Cover and let sit three days. Check daily. A dull or whitish mold will start forming on
the surface as the tomatoes begin to ferment; stir this in each day to bring different
tomatoes to the surface.
Tomatoes on Day 3 after fermentation
By the third day, most of the water and many of the seeds will have separated from the
pulp which will be floating on top. Lift the pulp, trying to leave as much of the water as
possible, and bring to a boil in a stainless steel pot, cooking about 10 minutes or until
Cooked pulp with skins and seeds
Put this pulp through a sieve or food mill to remove the pulp from the tomato skins and
the remaining seeds.
Separating seeds and skins
Return the pulp to the stove. Add two cups vinegar, 7 cups of sugar, about 2 cups
of onions chopped fine, and about 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, and pickling spices tied in
cheesecloth (about the size of a walnut or so). Bring to a boil.
Cook until desired consistency is reached (about 1.5 hours), stirring periodically. Ladle into hot jars and seal.
A couple notes:
- Cooking times are going to vary a lot based on the water content of the tomatoes. At each stage, make every attempt to remove any water or clear liquid that separates on its own, as this is easier than trying to boil it away.
- 7 cups is a lot of sugar, but it really makes this delicious. Grandma had added at the bottom of this recipe when she wrote it out for me, “Maybe 6 cups sugar” but I’ve never lowered the quantity (although I’ve loaded up the initial measurement of tomatoes to be almost 6 gallons and have not increased the sugar…)
- This works best when temperatures are still on the warm side; you want that white mold to form. I usually do this in August or September in a house without air conditioning, so there’s lots of activity in the pot during those three days. A friend of mine loved the catsup so much and tried it in their frigidly cooled house and very little foam formed, and the resulting catsup really lacked the intensity of flavor that makes this so good. So that white stuff is good! It is boiled so long and the sugar and acid concentration is so high that nothing bad is going to survive that.
- This lasts a long time if you store in a dark, cool place. It is outstanding on hamburgers and hot dogs, but incredible in meatloaf and as the basis for cocktail sauce.