Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Homemade Eggplant Ketchup!

Dear Folks,

Yep, you read that correctly "Eggplant Ketchup."

On my facebook page and elsewhere I shared one of my favorite youtube channels, "Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc." which is all about 18th Century reenacting and cooking.  The recipes are illustrated from cookbooks written approximately 1730s to about 1800.

Ketchup as we know it today is red, made from tomatoes and depending on the brand a good tasting condiment or incipient - little more than tomato flavored thickened water.

But ketchup back in the 18th Century was a sauce or spread made from a variety of foods like  mushrooms and other common ingredients, used to add flavor to otherwise bland meals.

I first became familiar with non-tomato ketchups from my mother's favorite cook book "The American Woman's Cook Book."  Called "Catchup" in the books.  Editions were published from the 1930s into the 1970s.  I have copies from 1939 and 1947.  In the books are recipes for Cranberry, Grape, Green Tomato (called Old Virginia Catchup), Cold (Red) Catchup and Mushroom.  These books are a treasurer trove of wonderful old fashioned, sometimes odd-sounding recipes which the cooks of the household held dear.  As an aside, I learned the term "Made Over" in these books means using left overs.  Very little was wasted in those days.

So after watching the video (link below) on making a form of Mushroom Ketchup I decided when I had enough of my Casper (white) eggplant I would try to make an eggplant version of the Mushroom recipe.  The reason is, my Deane is severely allergic to mushrooms, sadly as he once could enjoy them, but no more.

Eggplant has the same "meaty" quality as mushrooms and I have made a great marinaded eggplant to add to meals.  See link here.

There are some similarities between my new Eggplant Ketchup recipe and the Marinaded Eggplant, but they go in different finished taste directions.  Both delicious!

So I had to adapt the recipe because I did not have or did not want to use a few of the recommended ingredients.  I did not have horseradish so I used mustard powder.  I did not have an onion on hand so I harvested a young leek and one of my recently planted garlic (green garlic - you use it just like a scallion), and substituted paprika for the cheyenne pepper.

Also the original recipe calls for 2 pounds of cut up mushrooms.  That equals about 10 cups and I only had 2 cups of eggplant so keep that in mind when you see my recipe.  Also I would cut the salt in half and adjust to taste after cooking.  My Eggplant Ketchup ended up really, really tasty but could have used less salt.

NOTE:  In the original recipe the volume (2 pounds) of mushrooms and vinegar produced quite a bit of liquid.  In my reduced recipe there was virtually no liquid left after cooking so I simply used my bullet to grind all together (AFTER removing the bay leaves) to make the finished ketchup. The original recipe's liquid was the sauce and the strained remainder was dried for a ground seasoning.  With no liquid left over in this batch I just blended all together.  I could easily dry some of the spread for long term storage, but since I only wound up with about 1 cup, I am just keeping for use in the frig.

My Homemade Eggplant Ketchup

2 cups chopped eggplant
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 small bay leaves.

Mix eggplant, salt and bay leaves together, cover and leave on counter over night.  The eggplant will weep.

1/4 onion chopped (or 2 scallions Or 1 scallion and 1 green garlic or clove)
zest of lemon (I used one of my large limequats)
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
1/16 teaspoon of ground cloves 
1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/16 teaspoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

In a non-reactive pot add eggplant, bay leaf mixture and resulting liquid along with the rest of the ingredients.  Cover, bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir periodically.  Cool, remove bay leaves and blend.  I had to add about 3 tablespoons of water to get the blender going well.  The extra water did not diminish the wonderful flavor.

I hope you will try this recipe with your own eggplant and let me know what you think of it.

These ketchups or catchups are simply forms of relish, spread, or sauce.  They all have some form of acid, usually cider vinegar to brighten and bring a zip to the flavor profile.

What vegetable or fruit would you substitute to make your own ketchup and what would you use it with? Or would you use a nut or seed in place of the mushroom/eggplant?  Many Vegans use cashews in place of other ingredients, so maybe a cashew ketchup?

Here is the basic recipe for Mushroom Ketchup I adapted to eggplant.

18th Century Mushroom Ketchup


2lbs fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and broken or cut into small pieces.
2T Kosher or Sea Salt
2 -3 Bay Leaves
1 Large Onion, chopped
Zest of 1 Lemon
1T Grated Horseradish
1/4t Ground Clove
1/2t Ground Allspice
Pinch of Cayenne
1/2c Cider Vinegar


Combine the mushrooms, salt, and bay leaves in a non-metallic pot or bowl. Cover and let set overnight.

Transfer mushroom mixture to a cooking pot and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low to simmer the mixture for 15 minutes. (Optional: you could simmer the mixture longer, stirring all the while, to reduce the liquid to about half for a more concentrated flavor.)

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain out all the solids through a piece of cloth, squeezing or wringing the cloth to remove as much liquid as possible. Bottle and cork.

PLEASE NOTE! Don’t throw away the wrung-out mushroom mixture! Spread it out on a baking sheet and dry it thoroughly in a 200-degree (F) oven. Remove the mushrooms when they are completely dry and hard. This can be ground into a powder and stored in a tin for seasoning or left in its original form to be added to soups and stews. This mushroom seasoning is absolutely delicious!

Link to article all about "ketchup" and recipe. 

Link to video showing how to make the mushroom ketchup

Have a great day with the bounty from your gardens!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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