18 August 2009

Jams, Preserves & Pickles

My friend, Harry Lowe, made a meatloaf last week which spurred a conversation about ketchup. And for that matter, meatloaf. I am not that fond of meatloaf sauced with that bright red layer of ketchup.

We talked about whether the ketchup was spicy enough. Perhaps the next meatloaf should incorporate chili sauce instead of ketchup. Then we started talking about ketchup itself. I told him that a lot of canning books had recipes for ketchup that ran the gamut from bland to spicy. For every ketchup recipe, however, there always seemed to be a corollary recipe for Mushroom Ketchup.

Mushroom ketchup is not something you never see on the shelf, yet recipes for it abound. So, someone out there must have enjoyed it. I began to look at ketchup recipes, but found the directions for mushroom ketchup more interesting.

Rosemary Hume and Muriel Downes published a slim volume called Jams, Preserves & Pickles. It is a basic little book with rather British directions for cooking the fruits, then weighing the fruits and measuring them for the ratio to add sugar. It seems complicated, but it is an accurate way to control the ratio in canning. The book also features a recipe for Mushroom Ketchup. I have read it several times, but I couldn’t think of it slathered on French fries.

Mushroom Ketchup

Weigh some dry open mushrooms and allow 1 1/2 oz. salt to every pound. Break up the mushrooms and put in layers, sprinkled with salt in a stone jar and leave 3-4 days. Stir and press from time to time. At the end of this time press well, cover the jar and put in a cool oven for 2-3 hours. Strain through a fine nylon sieve. Gently press to extract all the juice. To each quart of liquid allow:
1/2 oz. allspice: 1/2 root ginger: 2 blades of mace: pinch of cayenne (optional): 1 shallot, chopped.
Put all into a muslin bag. Put the liquid and spice into a pan and simmer 2-3 hours until well reduced. Strain, put into proper sterilizing bottles and sterilize 15 minutes. This is a precautionary measure. Some red wine in the proportion of a quarter of the quantity of mushroom liquor May be added and boiled with the liquid, or a few drops of brandy may be added to each pint.

I am going to try this and see if anyone asked, "Do you want mushroom ketchup with those fries?"

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