November 22, 2019
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Making Mushroom Ketchup, 18th Century Cooking Series at Jas. Townsend and Son – Townsends


Many different 18th century recipes and a
lot of writings refer to something called ketchup. Now ketchup in the 18th century wasn’t
so much like this as it is more like this. The word ketchup finds its roots in 17th century
China. The Chinese had a similar sounding name for a concoction that consisted of pickled
fish and spices. The British traders found this seasoning to be delightful. They brought
it home and it quickly became the staple of the English and American diet. Today we’re going to make an 18th century
ketchup recipe with mushrooms. This would be a seasoning or a flavor that 18th century
soldiers would be very familiar with. James Townsend and Son carries all the equipment
we’ll be using today and you can find each one of these things in our catalog or on our
website. We’re starting off with 2 pounds of fresh mushrooms, but first a word of warning.
We’re using common brown mushrooms in our recipe today. These mushrooms are native throughout
Europe and North America but even common mushrooms can easily be mistaken for poisonous or even
deadly varieties, so make sure to use something you know is completely safe. With our mushrooms, we need to gently wipe
these mushrooms off. We don’t want to rinse them off or wash them because that added liquid
would dilute our final flavors. And we’re going to add these to our tin
cooking pot. We need to draw the juices out of our chopped up mushrooms. The best way
to do that is to add a couple spoonfuls of salt. In addition to that salt, we’re going
to add a couple of bay leaves. We’re going to mash it up, smoosh these mushrooms down
in and then we’re going to cover it and then let it set for about 10 minutes. We’ve let these set 10 minutes and they’ve
already started reducing. The liquids being drawn out of the mushrooms and it’s already
reduced in size a little bit. I’m going to transfer these into a milk pan here and
then we can let this sit overnight. I’m going to put this pie pan on top just
to keep the critters out. The first recipe for tomato ketchup was in
1801, but tomato ketchup did not become popular until the mid-19th century. The tomato plant
is a member of the deadly nightshade family and many people considered it a deadly poison
in the 18th century. Well, let’s take a look. There we have it. The mushrooms have completely
masticated and now it’s time for the next step. So now it’s time to add in 1 chopped up
onion, the zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of finely grated horse radish. James Townsend
and Son offers a pocket spice kit. It comes with salt and pepper, cinnamon, cayenne and
thyme. It also comes with an empty vial and in that vial I’ve added cloves. In the recipe
here, we’re going to use a quarter teaspoon of cloves. We’re going to use a pinch of cayenne and some allspice also, about a half a teaspoon. And the last ingredient we need is a quarter
to a half a cup of cider vinegar. We’re going to stir up all these things together
and then we’re going to put this over the fire and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Joseph Plumb Martin’s book, sometimes called
Private Yankee Doodle, many times it mentions when he’s eating, that they’re lacking
sauce for their meat. More than likely this is what he was craving. This is done simmering now. I’ve let it
cool a little bit but now it’s time to pour it off and I’ve got our milk pan and I’ve
got a squeeze cloth here. I’m going to pour this in here to let it cool. Once this is cooled off, we’re going to
take that cloth and bundle it up and squeeze all the liquid out. There’re some amazing complex flavors in
this. You get the salt first, then some of the other spices, the earthiness of the mushrooms,
very complex, very wonderful flavor. We’re going to cork this up. We’re going to bottle
it, cork it, and save it for our future recipes. So when you’re done with squeezing out the
mushrooms, you don’t want to get rid of that. You don’t want to throw that out.
That is especially good stuff. You dry that and you can either leave it like it is or
you can grind it up. Some of this stuff you can sprinkle it almost like salt. It is really,
really good stuff. And there we have it, our ketchup. Our 2 pounds
of mushrooms worked out to be a little over a pint of liquid ketchup. We also have our
leftover dried mushrooms. Those are going to be great for future recipes. All the equipment
that you saw here, all the utensils, it’s available on our website, in our print catalog,
and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Randall Smitham

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