Monday, October 3, 2011

From Tomato to Ketchup ~ A Recipe

Ketchup, catsup... however you spell it, my kids adore it.  The fact that I'm even messing with this sacred food (yes food, not condiment) of theirs is quite risky.  I've tried three recipes.  One was "too spicy," one was "too lacto-fermenty," they weren't puréed enough...  I'm competing with Trader Joe's organic ketchup here.  You'd think a homemade version would be a definite upgrade, but not according to my kids.  Since I haven't been able to exactly replicate their ketchup, I resigned to calling this homemade version (this recipe is as close as I could get to Trader's) "red sauce" or "red dip."  Whichever name will most delight the eater is the name I use.

We received a lot of red tomatoes in our CSA box this week, and we go through ketchup faster than fresh tomatoes, thus this the birth of this recipe.  I broke three standard rules for ketchup-making: I didn't use Roma tomatoes, nor did I peel or seed them.  Why?  Because I was using the tomatoes I had on hand and to save time.  It worked just fine.  So there, standard ketchup.  Can it, ferment it, eat it fresh, it's up to you.  I'll show you how to preserve this "red sauce" two different ways at the bottom of the recipe.

Start off with nine ripe tomatoes of your choice (freedom ketchup!).  Quarter and run them through a blender.  A high-speed one will give you the smoothest results (I use a Vita-Mix).  It took two batches of blending for me.

Then, dump the purée in a large saucepan or even a stock pot.

Blend the onion and pepper and add those to the pot (or, if there's room, blend the onions and peppers with the tomatoes to save time).

Bring it to a rapid boil until it reduces by half.  Turn heat to medium and add all remaining ingredients.  Cover and check periodically to see if it's reached your desired consistency.  This can take one to four hours, depending on how thick you like your ketchup.   On to the official recipe:

Ketchup Made with Fresh Tomatoes
Makes 3 cups
  • 9 medium to large ripe ORGANIC tomatoes of your choice, quartered  Please note:  if you're using chemically-treated tomatoes, you will need to blanch, peel, and seed your tomatoes first.
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 sweet pepper (except I used 2 Anaheim chilies because, well, they came in the CSA box)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup sweetener of your choice (honey, grade B maple syrup, or rapadura)
  1. Blend tomatoes, peppers, and onion (preferably through a high-speed blender).  This might need to happen in two or more batches.  Pour in a large saucepan or stock pot and bring to a rapid boil.  Allow purée to reduce to about half, stirring often.
  2. Turn heat to medium and add remaining ingredients.  Cover and check periodically to see if it's reached your desired consistency.  This can take 1-4 hours depending on how thick you'd like your ketchup to be.  Store in fridge or double the recipe if you'd like to preserve some.

To Lacto-Ferment:
Decrease vinegar to 2 tablespoons and add 1/4 cup whey (not the powdered kind) to the end, cooled product.  Stir and leave at least 1 inch of space between the ketchup and the top of the jar.  Cover and sit on the countertop for three days, then store in the fridge (or a root cellar if you're blessed enough to have one).

Do you have a favorite ketchup recipe?  Are there certain seasonings you simply can't do without in yours?  I'd love to hear about it if you do.  Happy ketchup-making!

I'm sharing this at Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, & Simple Lives Thursday.


  1. Sounds good! I've been meaning to make my own some time. I'll have to see if the farm where I go has tomatoes!

  2. I had the same problem- while the homemade ketchup tastes good for my boys it just doesn't compare to store brought ketchup. Do you use "the dip" on the same things you use store brought ketchup on?

  3. Yep, that's what I do. It helps when we "run out of ketchup," so there's no other alternative and they begin to get more used to the good, homemade kind. :)

  4. Great recipe and pictures. I've always wanted to do this. I am putting it on my list of homemade things to make. I actually referenced this post in mine today because I did a post on baked fries with real fat. You can see it here:

  5. I recently made homemade ketchup for the first time - its so, so good. I used a slightly different recipe that turned out really well (posted here: - but I'm really curious to try a fermented version! How does fermented ketchup taste, for someone used to the canned kind?

  6. This looks like an EXCELLENT ketchup recipe. I'll definitely give it a try!

  7. I actually can't stand commercial ketchup but love homemade :) This is a great basic recipe!

  8. I have canned many cans would I use for this recipe? Thanks!

  9. I'd use 2 15-oz. cans. :)

  10. Can I can the fermented ketchup? Sorry if this is an obvious answer. I'm new to the fermentation thing ;) If love to get this going! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. I wouldn't can the fermented kind; just to be on the safe side.


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