Thursday, August 13, 2009

Homemade Ketchup (Catsup)

My Venture into Classic American Condiments

Why on earth would anybody go to the effort of making their own ketchup when you can buy it already made from the store? Why would anybody make their own marinara sauce instead of buying it from the store? Or their own cookies? Or their own bread? People make things from scratch when they want to control the ingredients, make it healthier, make it cheaper, or make it better-tasting. Commercially made ketchup is made with a lot of high-fructose corn syrup and is cloyingly sweet. If you are worried about your family consuming too much corn syrup, give this recipe a try.

When I was growing up, my mother would make homemade ketchup using fresh tomatoes from our garden. It was heavenly! If you have a lot of extra tomatoes in your garden, use them to make some homemade ketchup! While I love mom's original recipe using fresh tomatoes, it is really a labor of love. In addition, the various varieties of fresh tomatoes that might be used in making the ketchup cause inconsistent results. In addition, you can only make ketchup during the summer when tomatoes are in season. After all, you would not want to spend the time and money in making homemade ketchup using those tasteless things that you have to buy during the winter. For this reason, I adapted mom's recipe to use canned, whole tomatoes. Upon reading this, my mother is probably rolling her eyes. The reason I decided to use canned tomatoes is because they are picked at their height of ripeness, are inexpensive, available year-round, and produce consistent results each and every time. In addition, using canned tomatoes significantly cuts the total prep and cook time since you do not have to blanch and peel eight pounds of tomatoes. For those of you who wish to use fresh tomatoes, check out this recipe from Karen in Colorado. Her recipe closely resembles my mother's.

The bad thing about making homemade ketchup is the amount it splatters while cooking. When I was growing up, we even had ketchup stains on the ceiling above the stove. I used to tell my friends that it was blood from a neighbor who knocked on the door when mom was trying to watch "Dallas" on TV. If you valued your life, you never interrupted my mother during Dallas.

This recipe is well worth the effort so make it today! Enjoy – and happy condimenting!

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Homemade Ketchup (Catsup)
(Printable Version)

2-28 oz cans whole tomatoes
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Add half of the onion and one of the cans of whole tomatoes to a blender. Purée for at least 30 seconds or until the mixture is well liquefied. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a dutch oven and strain the tomato mixture into the pot. Use a spoon to help coax the purée through the strainer. Discard any solids that stubbornly refuse to go through the strainer. Repeat with the other half of the onion and remaining can of whole tomatoes.

Add the tomato paste and sugar to the pot and whisk to incorporate. Turn the heat to medium and allow the mixture to come to a vigorous simmer. Once the mixture is vigorously simmering, set your timer for 50 minutes and allow the tomato purée to reduce (uncovered!) -- stirring periodically but more often as the mixture gets thicker. I highly recommend that you use a splatter screen to rest over your pot while the tomatoes are simmering. As the mixture thickens, it may splatter and the screen will keep the ketchup in the pot where it is supposed to be.

After 50 minutes, add the vinegar, salt, and spices. Whisk to incorporate. Continue to simmer (with the splatter screen on) until the mixture thickens to the consistency of ketchup – about 25 to 35 minutes longer. I like mine on the thick side so I usually go the entire 35 minutes.

Once the ketchup has reached the desired consistency, transfer the ketchup to a container (preferably glass so it will not stain) and allow it to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate. It will keep for about 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge. Like mustard, homemade ketchup will eventually separate so be sure to stir it before using.


  1. This sounds great and it's something I wouldn't have thought of to make from scratch! The kids do LOVE ketchup! :)

  2. It is good -- and pretty easy to make, too!

  3. This must be why you like to eat ketchup on

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this! I will be making it this weekend--as soon as I buy the tomatoes. With 6 children + 1 husband who think ketchup should be its own food group, we go through a lot. I have been checking out recipes to avoid the HFCS--this is the first one using real ingredients. I probably should pick up a screen, too. We do have some chocolate stains on the ceiling, maybe the tomatoes would blend right in :)


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