Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mushroom Ketchup for the Destitute

When you say "ketchup" in modern times, it can be assumed that you mean a tomato based condiment with vinegar and spices.  This was not always so.  Ketchup has been a popular condiment since the late 1700's, when tomatoes were still viewed with deep suspicion as being possibly poisonous.  The most common base for a ketchup sauce is most definitely mushrooms, followed by walnuts.  It features heavily as an ingredient in cookbooks all the way up through the 1800's.  



But what is the modern cook to do, when one cannot simply buy mushroom ketchup unless one goes to a specialty shop in the U.K.? Make it!  How hard can it be? 



To make Ketchup.
Take the large Flaps of Mushrooms, pick nothing
but the Straws and Dirt from it, then lay them
in a broad earthern Pan, strow a good deal of
Salt over them, let them lie till next Morning;
then with your Hand brake them, put them
into a Stew-pan, and let them boil a Minute
or two, then strain them thro’ a coarse Cloth;
and wring it hard. To take out all the Juice,
let it stand to settle, then pour it off clear,
and run it thro’ a thick Flannel Bag, (some
filter it thro’ brown Paper, but that is a very
tedious Way) then boil it, to a Quart of the
Liquor put a quarter of an Ounce of whole
Ginger, and half a quarter of an Ounce of
whole Pepper, boil it briskly a quarter
of an Hour, then strain it, and when it
is cold, put it into Pint Bottles; in each
Bottle put four or five Blades of Mace,
and six Cloves, cork it tight, and it will
keep two Years. This gives the best
Flavour of the Mushrooms to any Sauce,
if you put to a Pint of this Ketchup a Pint
of Mum, it will taste like foreign Ketchup.
-The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glasse (1747)

Hold on, that's like... a LOT of mushrooms.  Like, A LOT OF MUSHROOMS.  Do you understand how many mushrooms it takes to extract a quart of juice?  And here's me without a money tree.  



There we go.  Yes.  That's what I like to call... good enough.  



Cheater Mushroom Ketchup
1 quart water
2 T. mushroom bouillon
1 T. dry ginger (preferably in chunks rather than powder, but hey, I didn't have any)
1 T. peppercorns
1 t. mace
6 cloves

Simmer together.  Strain and bottle.  Refrigerate.  

Verdict:  Yowsers.  This is HOT.  And salty!  I think it came out right.  It reminds me very very much of Worcestershire sauce, or steak sauce.  It isn't something you want to swipe a french fry through, but it does have a lot of flavor.  I don't think I can appropriately judge it before using it in a recipe, you know?  

...

Further reading:

4 comments:

acunningcook said...

Do you ever wonder who came up with recipes this complicated?

I understand how sausage was invented. "What can we do with these little bits of leftover meat? I know. Lets mix them up with some grain and stuff them in the intestines and then we can just use a piece at the time when we run out of the big rest of the meat." And, then, later, "I bet if we include a little bit of herbs, it would be mighty tasty."

I suspect this was invented by somebody who was sick of eating mushrooms and was trying to use them up.

Jana said...

Necessity is the mother of invention! And everyone loves condiments. Go count all the ones you own, sometime.

Jana said...

And actually, I'm more worried about whoever invented milking.

acunningcook said...

THAT is a valid point.