Good old-fashioned tomato ketchup

Makes a generous jar
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1tbsp olive oil

5 red onions, roughly chopped
1kg/2lb apples
2.5kg/6lb ripe tomatoes
400g/13oz caster sugar
500ml/17fl oz cider vinegar
10 cloves
2 star anise
3 fresh bay leaves
12 juniper berries
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

If you have a jam pot, use that, if not place a large heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat. Add the olive oil and when warm add the onions and sweat for five minutes or until soft and translucent. While the onions are sweating, roughly chop the apples and tomatoes. Add to the pot, and stir in the sugar and vinegar. Tie the spices and juniper berries in muslin if you can as this makes them much easier to remove once the ketchup is cooked. Add to the pan and stir well to combine. Turn the heat to low and cook gently for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally to ensure that the ketchup doesn't stick. The ketchup is ready when the sauce is cooked right down and all glossy and homogeneous. Add a really good pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Turn off the heat and allow to cool before spooning into a sterilised jar. It will keep for a few months either in the fridge or in a cool dark place.

I think of these baked apples as comfort food. We had baked apples as children; it was one of the few desserts my mother ever made. They are very simple to make and you can be loose with the quantities, adding a little more of this or that depending on what takes your fancy. Cox apples are not the best choice for baking because they split and burst slightly when cooked, but I love their shiny, rosy colour – just to look at them makes me smile.

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