Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The origins of Ketchup

The following historical recipe is courtesy of the Culinary Historians of New York

By Andrew F. Smith

Many people think of ketchup as a bright-red, tomato-based condiment that was invented by Americans. The word itself derives from kê-tsiap, which meant "fish pickled in brine" in Chinese dialect. The first located ketchup recipe was published in England, and it is for mushroom ketchup. Although many 18th and 19th century recipes were for mushroom ketchups, other varieties, including walnut and ketchups made from a wide range of fruits,such as apples, blackberries, peaches and tomatoes, were also popular. Early ketchups were used for flavoring savory pies, meats and other sauces.

To make Mushroom Ketchup

Take the Gills of large Mushrooms, such as are spread quite open, put them into a Skellet of Bell_Metal, or a Vessel of Earthen-Ware glazed, and set them over a gentle Fire till they begin to change into Water; and then frequently stirring them till there is as much Liquor come out of them as can be expected, pressing them often with a Spoon against the side of the Vessel; then strain off the Liquor, and put to every Quart of it about eighty Cloves, if they are fresh and good, or half as many more, if they are dry, or have been kept a long time, and about a Drachm of Mace: add to this about a Pint of strong red Port Wine that has not been adulterated, and boil them all together till you judge that every Quart has lost about a fourth Part or half a Pint; then pass it thro' a Sieve, and let it stand to cool, and when it is quite cold, bottle it up in dry Bottles of Pints or Half-Pints, and cork them close, for it is the surest way to keep these kind of Liquors in such small quantities as may be used quickly, when they come to be exposed to the Air, for fear of growing mouldy: but I have had a Bottle of this sort of Ketchup, that has been open'd and set by for above a Year, that has not received the least Damage; and some Acquaintance of mine have made of the same sort, and have kept it in Quart-Bottles to use as occasion required, and have kept it good much longer than I have done. A little of it is very rich in any Sauce, and especially when Gravey [sic] is wanting: Therefore it may be of service to Travellers, who too frequently meet with good Fish, and other Meats, in Britain, as well as in several other parts of Europe, that are spoiled in the dressing; but it must be consider'd, that there is no Salt in this, so that whenever it is used, Salt, Anchovies, or other such like relishing things, may be used with it, if they are agreeable to the Palate...

Source: Richard Bradley, The Country Gentleman's and Farmer's Monthly Director. Fifth edition. London: Woodman and Lyon, 1728. 1:142-43.

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