Ketchup is a sweet and tangy sauce typically made from tomatoes, sweetener, andvinegar, with assorted seasonings and spices. The latter vary by recipe, but commonly include onions, allspice, coriander, cloves, cumin, garlic, mustard and sometimes celery, cinnamon or ginger. Tomato ketchup is most often used as a condiment to various dishes that are usually served hot and may be fried or greasy: french fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, tater tots, hot sandwiches, meat pies, cooked eggs, and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is sometimes used as the basis for, or as one ingredient in, other sauces and dressings, and the flavor may be replicated as an additive flavoring for snacks like potato chips.
Fresh tomatoes received at a tomato processing plant can be turned into a variety of different products, one of which includes ketchup. The process begins by washing the tomatoes to remove any outer dirt and foreign matter from the skin before processing. Upon inspection, damaged, spoiled or unwanted tomatoes will be sorted out manually. Tomatoes will usually be conveyed by water throughout the preliminary stages to avoid bruising.
After being sorted, washed and chopped up, they proceed into large steel vats for preservation/precooking and also to destroy any bacteria that could be harmful to the rest of the processing period as well as for the consumer after production. The juice will be extracted out by a juice extraction system. The outer skin, seed, stem, and fiber of fruits would be separated from the liquid in a process known as pulping. Once separated, the juice and the pulp from the tomato get filtered and processed into ketchup. A smoother ketchup consistency is achieved through more filtering and screenings, weeding out any excess pulp.
Ketchup processing includes adding additional ingredients, cooking, more screening and filtering, air-removal, packaging and cooling.
After juice filtration, additional ingredients are added to the mixture to achieve the desired taste and consistency. Some of the main ingredients used to create ketchup include sweeteners, vinegar, salt and spices, and flavouring. These additions are usually integrated later on in the process except for some spices added in at the beginning. Throughout the entire process, the temperature must be consistently monitored to make sure all the ingredients are being added and appropriately absorbed. Air is then removed to prevent oxidation, maintain proper colouring and inhibit the growth of any unwanted bacteria. Before being packaged, the ketchup is heated to approx.190 'F (88 'C) to prevent contamination.
After packaging, the bottles are immediately sealed to retain the freshness and preserve the shelf-life of the product. The final step is cooling the product via cold air or water to maintain its flavour.
Different manufacturers will label their products accordingly with all the necessary nutritional and other legal information as required.
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