Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Making Catsup...

What do we do on our preparation days? We always have wonderful options besides staying home and cleaning. One of our favorite things to do is get into the culture, visit new places and see how the local population really lives. We aren’t always great at it, but not too long ago we had a spectacular day at some of our friends’ house learning to make catsup. Now, this isn’t just any catsup! This is by far and away the most yummy, flavorful catsup that I have ever tasted! Last Christmas they gave us a quart of it as a gift and I fell in LOVE with it! Jim teased me and said, “why not have a little egg with your catsup?” Really, I’ve never been much of a catsup fan, but I could eat this like tomato pudding! I asked way back in January if she would teach me how to make it because it’s one of those things I want to bring back to America. Believe me, there is nothing to compare it to back home. So they remembered our plea, with the help of their soon to be son-in-law, Predrag who just happens to be our translator in Bosnia. We arranged a Saturday when the tomatoes were ripe and yummmm! It took all day, but the result was heavenly, red, thick, delicious, the best ever catsup! I got the recipe for all you adventuresome souls and will post it at the end of the blog. But if it doesn’t work for you this year, hold onto your hats! I’m sending seeds home to my sister for the required paprika peppers and by the time we get home in July next year, hopefully the peppers and tomatoes will almost be on and I can just see us now in her back yard mixing up our precious red treasure!

These are the ingredients: tomatoes, onions, red paprika peppers,(they are very sweet) green peppers, celery,ground pepper, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pasley root, bay leaf and vinegar.

When we arrived at 8:30 A.M. our host, Gordana and her twin daughters had already chopped the peppers, onions and tomatoes and had let them cook for about two hours. They were cool when we arrived. No slipping skins they just chopped them in large chunks and cooked them.
We fed the cooked vegies through this machine. The ground up juice came out where the spout is and into a waiting bucket. The skins all came out of theendof the tube thing and into a dish to throw away.

Now we really get to help. Jim is catching the juice, I'm squishing it into the feed and Gordana is hoping we don't mess it up this soon into the process!
Next we stir as it cooks down. This is an all day procedure. Stirring is very important!
This is time lapsed photography... You can see how much it has cooked down from the begining line to the almost finished product. At this point our hostess started putting in the spices and going about taste testing it. It all tasted pretty good to me, but she was particular and made sure it was to her seasoned satisfaction.
Jovana, Predrag, her Mom and Dad,. It's almost done!

It's getting late and this picture isn't the greatest, but I wanted you to see this cooker. It's a 55 gal drum; they have cut out the front of it and put in a burner that is fueled by propane. In the back there is a small cut out for a smoke outlet. The pan itself is a cast iron pan that is lined with alluminum. It's really heavy, lifts in and out and has lasted them for years. The propane was interesting, because it didn't burn clean like our propane does, it leaves a tar like residue on the burner grates and burner that every once in a while needs to be knocked off with a metal tool of some kind. We look like we are ready for Halloween, what do ya think?
We left this to the pro! Mostly because it was really, really hot and she just handled the bottles like they weren't hot at all! They put the clean bottles and lids in the oven for about 15 minutes at about 200 degrees. Then while they are still hot she poured the catsup into the jars and screwed on the lids tight. Tada!!! The catsup is ready for our glorious consumption! We had such a good day, I'm sure they were ready to get these crazy Americans out of their hair;but they were such gracious, kind and understanding hosts. How will ever repay such goodness! Ahhhh someday maybe they will find their way to the U.S. and we could show them how we do catsup...Sam's Club here we come!!!!

This has nothing to do with any thing, but I've tried for sometime now to get a picture of  a horses head at the meat counter. I either don't have my camera with me when they have one or I have my camera, but they don't have a head. So this week it worked! They had the head, I had the camera. Poor little horse, now you see why I eat chicken.

Bosnian Catsup

Tomatoes- 22 lbs

Red paprika peppers- about 50 peppers or 11 lbs

Celery – one whole stalk with leaves

Parsley roots- 7-8

Parsley leaves- 1 bunch

Bay leaves-6-7

Sugar – 2 cups

Salt- 1 cup added to taste

Vinegar- ¼ cup –add more to taste

Cinnamon- to taste

Nutmeg- to taste

Cook down vegetables for at least 2 hours. Run through juicer taking out bay leaves, celery stalks and parsley before juicing.

Cook on medium heat at simmering point, stirring often to prevent burning for 5-6 hours.

Add spices, sugar, salt and vinegar to taste.

Bottle and process; In Bosnia they don’t process, but in U.S. you would be wise to check with local experts.

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