Mustard and Ketchup


Ever since discovering Punk Domestics, I’ve been hankering to make my own condiments. It would never have occurred to me years ago, when I was still buying salad dressing out of bottles, that it was either feasible or desirable to make ones own condiments. I was not a fan at the time (nor I suppose am I now) of politically correct dining tendencies. Friends who demanded to know the mercury content and sustainability of the fish they were eating, who gave up grains, meat, dairy, or sweets as an act of political defiance seemed to be performing penance for being alive and in the world. It struck me that it was all about control. You can’t control the corporations that pollute our seawater or fish out our oceans, but you can put up a fuss at the sushi bar when presented with a tuna roll. We’re doing penance with our small sacrifices, like medieval Catholics paying indulgences to get souls out of purgatory. We may wear shoes made by child slave labor in Indonesia, but at least our stomachs can be virtuous.

Of course, I pursued this line of thought before reading Michael Pollan: before discovering that eating virtuously meant eating well. And that eating well was the birthright that had been stripped from us by capitalism and the agricultural industrial complex. I was endlessly told in college that the personal is political; that nothing can escape the politicized reading. It was my experience taking classes at Hampshire College that nothing ever did, unfortunately. At the time, I thought that we’d get on with things better if learning involved a little less political consciousness raising and a little more truth and beauty. It took me ten years out in the world to discover that there was little difference between the one and the other. Experiential reality rarely distinguishes politics from aesthetics and sensuality, and life in the kitchen almost never does. Hence, mustard and ketchup: my small, delicious, polychromatic act of political defiance.

Yellow Mustard

(Adapted from David Lebovitz) 

This is serious, sticks to your ribs, and sets your nostrils on fire mustard. I hope you like it spicy.

1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds

1/3 cup white wine

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoons turmeric

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons to ¼ cup water to dilute

1.)   Combine ingredients in a bowl and cover. Let stand for three days.

2.) After 3 days put the mustard in a food processor and blend until smooth.


3.) Add water to achieve desired thinness. It will keep in the refrigerator 6 months.


(Adapted from Jamie Oliver at The Food Network)

Homemade ketchup has a subtle, complex flavor not unlike a rich, homemade marinara. So, basically, it’s nothing like your store-bought kind. A wholly distinct experience. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but if you’re looking for Heinz, move on.

2 pounds tomatoes of varying colors

1 red onion

½ fennel bulb

1 celery stick

Olive oil

A one-inch long chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

½ hot pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 cups fresh basil (leaves picked, stems chopped)

1-tablespoon cumin

2 cloves


Black pepper (10 grinds of the pepper mill)

1 cup red wine vinegar

1/3-cup brown sugar

1.)   Put tomatoes, onion, fennel, celery, ginger, garlic, hot pepper, basil stalks, cumin and cloves in a pot with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with pepper and a ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook over low heat 15 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.


2.)   When softened, add the tomatoes and 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the sauce reduces by half.


3.)   Add basil leaves and puree in a food processor until smooth. Push puree through a wire mesh sieve and return to the pot.

4.)   Add the sugar and vinegar and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thick. This can take up to two hours or more. Watch a movie. Do your taxes. When it’s finished it will look not entirely unlike ketchup, but think closer to a very thick and shiny tomato sauce.



3 thoughts on “Condiments!

  1. Very cool. I really want to make our own ketchup!! But never have the time when I think of it before a meal. I should do it some weekend day. My other concern is that, after all that work, it might not keep long… I guess I could freeze some of it? Any idea how long this recipe keeps in the fridge??

    • Ketchup will keep 2-3 months in the fridge, or you could water bath can it if you’re making a large quantity (which I recommend doing as the recipe is a bit arduous). If you can it it’ll keep for a year.

      Thanks for commenting!

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