Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tomatoes Need Not Apply: Three Catsups, No Tomatoes

You say "ketchup," I say "catsup." Okay, I used to. Again, regionality... We used both words in our family, but my dad was more likely to say "catsup." (Sadly, like saying "pop" instead of "soda," the homogenization of US culture has spread into my dad's lingo, and he's more... standard... now; he asks for a soda, he uses ketchup.) Other sites can tell you about the change of the words and the contents, but I'll go for a one - two - three punch: a variety of catsups, from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book:
Cucumber Catsup (Uncooked).

Peel and chop 6 green cucumbers (table size), add 1 green pepper and 2 small onions, minced; drain this and add salt, pepper and vinegar to tasted and turn it into glass jars. Use for sandwiches or with cold meats.

Mrs. F. B. Waite
Take away the green pepper, and this pretty much sounds like what my dad would make anytime there were cucumbers to be had. Cucumbers and vinegar, uncooked, and enjoyed cold with sammiches, or even plain. Not quite sure what Mrs. Waite means by "table size," but I'm choosing to believe that she just means you shouldn't let them get ginormous on the vine. Harvest 'em young, folks!
Mushroom Catsup.

Wipe freshly gathered mushrooms, put in layers in earthen vessels, sprinkling salt between each layer. Cover with damp cloth and stand in a warm place 36 hours; then wash and strain. To each quart of liquid add 1 ounce pepper corns, boil 30 minutes, then add 1 ounce each whole cloves and allspice, 1/2 ounce ginger root, 1 blade mace; simmer 20 minutes. When cold, strain and bottle.

L. C. C. B.
The I-grew-up-Catholic-in-the-70s part of me is now singing "Earthen Vessels," and I fear it'll be with me for a few days, at least. ("We hold a treasure, not made of gold. In earthen vessels, wealth untold.")

Okay, back to the recipe! This sounds more like a ketchup... at least it sounds like it'd be liquid, thick and savory, instead of chunky, fresh, and tangy. The first catsups were usually mushroom or walnut based, so this is more "authentic" than the Heinz we know and love. No clue about the contributor, though she also gave a recipe for mustard pickles which looks yummy (cauliflower, onions, green tomatoes, cukes, and both red and green peppers). She also contributed the next old-school catsup:
Walnut Castup.

Use soft green walnuts; grind or pound in earthen mortar, then turn into stone jar, sprinkle with salt, and cover with vinegar; stand 1 week, stirring well each day. Strain through a coarse cloth. To each gallon of liquid add 1 ounce each of whole cloves, peppercorns, ginger, mace and celery seed, 1/2 a crushed nutmeg, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Boil slowly.

L. C. C. B.
I can't imagine what this tastes like. I've never had unripe walnuts, and I'm curious as to what they taste like. There's an Italian liquor made from unripe walnuts, there's all sorts of things one can do with them... I need to find someone with a green walnut tree!


  1. "We hold a treasure, not made of gold. In earthen vessels, wealth untold."


    I hate you.

  2. You love me. You do! You're so glad to have a folk mass shoved back into your head, courtesy of a cookbook blog!