IMG_20180616_164137.jpgI knew that Rhubarb Ketchup was a thing, as I gazed upon all those stalks growing madly in the raised bed and asked them, what shall I make with you? They said, if you make a standard ketchup, you’ll have to sterilise the jars, and do you really have the energy to do that? Or would you rather make something probiotic and alive, naturally tangy, and furthermore….  why not use your vinegar from underripe green grapes, the vinegar that started life as a verjus, knowing it is ill-advised to jar, as in many vinegar preserves, with an unknown Ph.?

So Fermented Rhubarb Ketchup happened, and it’s wonderful.   It an EXTRA fruity tangy ketchup, or catsup as one used to enjoy saying as a child– and would be marvellous at a barbecue or with anything chicken or duck, kind of like hoisin.  My intention though is to use it as an ingredient in a BBQ marinade, for tempeh.

Are you all right with my giving loose recipes?  It’s how I like to cook.  Because I cook this way, I feel more empowered and creative.  If it seems challenging, refer back to proper recipes.  Feel free to play with your own spice combinations– Pam Corbin in The River Cottage Preserves book uses cumin and coriander for instance, others use bay leaves; I am a junky for warm, spicy cloves as a go-with for rhubarb.  Here’s how I made mine:

  • 12 skinny or 6 quite fat stalks of rhubarb
  • a loosely chopped, large red onion
  • a few garlic cloves, being aware you could over-do (which you might want to do!)
  • five cloves or a teaspoon of clove powder (I like lots, you might not.)
  • a big handful of brown sugar
  • a small American measure 1/2 teaspoon of salt (add more to taste)
  • a mixture of cider vinegar and sauerkraut brine to equal about a quarter cup, but really the proper amount to thin the mixture to what feels ketchuppy to you.  (I used a scrap vinegar from green grapes and a brine from a lactofermented cauliflower/ giardiniera.)   Some people might use whey here.

Roast the rhubarb, onion and garlic until soft. It might have been nice to add a little orange juice, and maybe I will next time.  I did sprinkle a bit of seasalt here to get the juices flowing.  The rational for roasting in my thinking (vs raw fermented rhubarb) — a) most fermented ketchup recipes start with tomato paste/ puree which of course is cooked and b) when I discovered world traditions of beginning fermented aubergine/ eggplant recipes by roasting, steaming, or boiling, ferments that had been meh became YEAH!

When cooled, puree the rhubarb mixture; I did this in my trusty food mill which makes for a very smooth texture and removes scratchy bits.  Add everything else, combine, and pot, which for me means a jar with a rubber gasket that I will burp; others prefer airlocks.

I’m excited to smother this over stuff, and have it as an element to play with in my larder.

LATE CHIPOTLE ALERT!  

I decided a spicy Chipotle Rhubarb Ketchup might be something I’d be more likely to use, as a marinade and ingredient in sauces.  As remedial action, I softened three (dried) chipotle chilis in a little fermented brine (water, juice, vinegar would have been fine too) and repureed them through the ketchup.  Clearly one could just add the soaked chipotles to the original mixture! You could control how hot you want this.  I find fermenting lessens spice (does anyone know why?) so you can often add more spicy than you think you like.

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