The first tomatoes of the season make dream of a bustling kitchen where a capable cook prepares huge batches of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and ketchup for canning. I think the image in my mind's eye comes from an old Judy Garland and Margaret Sullivan movie, Meet me in Saint Louis. Plump and gravel voiced Marjorie Main played the cook, Katie, who labored over a vat of ketchup in a Victorian kitchen complete with Willoware. Watching her, one could almost almost could easily imagine that savory scent of allspice, cinnamon, cloves wafted through house, calling up memories of picnics and barbeques.
There are no faithful retainers in my house, more is the pity. Canning is a labor intensive chore usually performed in the dog days of summer. It requires fortitude and dedication along with the certainty that there is a serious demand for the product of one's labor.
The reality is that it makes no economic sense to make ketchup for my small family. A few years ago a friend brought me such a large quantity of mangoes I felt compelled to make mango chutney. It was good chutney, as chutneys go. I gave away several jars, my family ate a few and there reamained such a vast number of jars we slapped our FLAGRANTLY DELICIOUS label on them and tried to sell them at a town fair. I found out that ours is not chutney country--the salsa vendors did not fare that ell either. I think that ketchup would go a bit faster and no doubt the home canned variety would be superior to stuff available at the store. It makes more sense to think of my tomatoes as ingredients for salad, sandwiches and pasta primavera. Still, I like to think that someday I will have a reason to dust off my pressure cooker and fill dozens of canning jars with FLAGRANTLY DELICIOUS ketchup.