For generations, variations of this beloved preserve have been on family dinner tables across Canada. Having roots in both English and French cultures, I have seen the variety of ways that this chunky fruit relish can add pizzazz to a meal. In Quebec, ketchup aux fruits (fruit ketchup) or ketchup maison (homemade ketchup) is part of the culinary tradition. From Gatineau to Gaspé it’s the condiment of choice with such dishes as pâté chinois, tortière or ragoût de pattes. In Ontario and other parts of Canada, you’ll find recipes for chili sauce or fruit chutney that have been passed down for generations. Here, it may be served with a roast, shepherd’s pie or for breakfast with eggs and home fries.
A great way to support local growers
Before we had modern refrigeration and the global food supply chain, canning and preserving locally grown produce was widely practiced. And what a wise concept this is. It supports local agriculture while minimizing shipping and your carbon footprint. Best of all, you will enjoy a much tastier, and healthier, homemade product anytime of the year.
In late summer and early fall, the ripe tender fruits of the Niagara region go on sale in markets across Canada. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get some deals on quantities of peaches, plums and pears when they are at their best. Orchards and farmers markets are usually the best place to pick up the freshest regionally grown produce that you’ll use in this recipe. Some of us may even be lucky enough to have our own garden ripe tomatoes or fruit trees. In that case, share those picture-perfect apples or tomatoes with family and friends. But don’t be afraid to use those misshapen or slightly blemished fruits to make your preserves (no one will ever know).
Canning and food safety
This is an old family recipe that uses basic canning methods. There is a possibility that the jar lids may fail to make a tight vacuum seal. In that case, your preserves will be unsafe to eat. I strongly recommend that anyone who has never made preserves before do a little more research about the canning process. Please be aware that there are health risks if your preserves become contaminated due to improper canning procedures. Never take a chance in eating any preserves if the jar seal is not concave and tight or the relish has discolored over time.
For additional information and best practices about home canning, the mason jar makers at Bernardin offer plenty of advice. Another great resource is The National Center for Home Food Preservation. They offer canning guidelines and comprehensive answers to many FAQs.
Ketchup Maison (Fruit Chili Sauce)
- 12 large ripe tomatoes peeled and diced
- 2 medium yellow onions peeled and diced
- 4 apples peeled and diced
- 2 pears diced
- 2 peaches peeled and diced
- 4 plums peeled and chopped
- 3 ribs of celery finely chopped
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 3 cloves ground
- 2 tbsp pickling spices wrapped in cheese cloth
- 2 tbsp pickling salt
- In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and, stirring often, simmer for 1 hour or until mixture thickens.
- Remove the spice bag then distribute in sterilized mason jars. Seal with hot snap lids.
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