Why you should try Caribbean Banana Ketchup

>> Tuesday, June 19, 2012

 Why try it?
  • You get an authentic taste of the Caribbean islands, which were once called the West Indies
  • You'll surprise your friends with a unique marinade for pork, poultry, or fish
  • You'll have a new way to use up those bananas that are getting just a little too ripe
  •  You 'll like this new condiment with plain old fries, chips, raw veggies, or burgers.

Lunch in St. Lucia
 In 2007, my family went on a week-long cruise in the Caribbean. We started in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and visited St. Thomas, St. John, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Dominica. At each stop, groups of us tried ziplining, river tubing, relaxing in hot springs, visiting open air markets, and jet skiing; over dinner, we shared our day and then went to shows or danced in one of the discos (my parents were the best dancers!). For me, one of the best parts of the trip was snorkeling with sea turtles in Barbados on my birthday!

Beach in St. John

The food in the Caribbean is fabulous and sometimes strange to the average Midwestern American. Among these foods was banana ketchup, a condiment on most restaurant tables and often for sale in shops. Baron's ketchup, made in St. Lucia, seemed to be the favored brand. I tried it on some potatoes and was intrigued by the sweet/sour combination with spices like cinnamon and cayenne. The taste and appearance is different from tomato ketchup, but once you try this sauce, you might become hooked!

Caribbean Banana Ketchup recipe


8 large overripe bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup yellow onions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves
2/3 cup tomato paste
2 ½ cups cider vinegar
4 cups water
1/2 cup dark molasses
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
4 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup dark rum

Add the raisins, onions, garlic, tomato paste and 1/2 cup of vinegar to a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Pour the mixture into a large pot.

Add the banana chunks and another 1/2 cup of vinegar to the food processor or blender. Process the mixture until very smooth. Add mixture to the saucepan. Stir in the rest of the vinegar, 3 cups of water, molasses, salt and cayenne pepper.

Bring the mixture a boil, stirring frequently, and then reduce the heat. Simmer uncovered until the sauce is very thick, approximately one hour. Stir occasionally. If the sauce begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add some of the remaining water, up to one cup.

Add the corn syrup, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Cook the ketchup, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes longer over medium heat. Stir in the rum. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Strain the mixture well through a colander or sieve. If using the ketchup fresh, remove the ketchup from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 1 month.

If canning the sauce, ladle hot mixture into pint jars, leaving 1/8-inch headspace. Dampen a kitchen towel and wipe around the rims of the canning jars. Screw the canning lids onto the jar just until finger-tight. Process 20 minutes in a canner. Cool completely before checking seal and storing.

Yield: 4-5 Pints

The Complete Guide to Food Preservation
This recipe was featured in my book The Complete Guide to Food Preservation: Step-by-step Instructions on How to Freeze, Dry, Can, and Preserve Food


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