How to make your own homemade ketchup

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How to make your own homemade ketchup
How to make your own homemade ketchup (Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images)

"The search for my own perfect homemade ketchup was all about pumping up what I love about ketchup (just the right blend of spice, tang, and real tomato flavour) and getting rid of what I don't love (all that sweet high-fructose corn syrup)."

— Alana Chernila, author of The Homemade Pantry

Consumed by people all across the world, ketchup might just be one of the most popular condiments on the planet. Hot dogs, hamburgers and chips are nearly naked without it, ketchup is the ideal accompaniment for dozens of dishes. Ditch expensive supermarket brands packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners, now you can make this tangy table sauce at home by following this easy recipe.

History of ketchup

Ketchup’s rich heritage dates back to 17th century China, deriving from the Chinese word ke-tsiap, meaning pickled fish sauce. It eventually made its way to Malaysia and Indonesia, where it was known as "kechap" and "ketjap," and was discovered by English sailors who brought the then tomato-soy sauce back west. It wasn’t until the early 1800s when a recipe for ketchup appeared, and later printed in an American cookbook, the Sugar House Book. While the original recipe for ketchup was quite salty, and in the 19th century American cooks adapted the recipe and began to sweeten the condiment with sugar.

Using a wide, large heavy-bottom pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and stir until translucent. Then, add the garlic and stir for a few more minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the chopped tomatoes, cayenne, allspice, ginger powder, ground pepper, clove and salt.

Cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat, you should cook the mixture until the tomatoes are soft and falling apart. Pour in the cold water and bring it to a boil, simmering until you reduce the sauce by half, stirring often.

In batches, pour the mixture into a food processor, blender or use an immersion mixer to purèe until smooth. Once you have made the sauce, push and strain through a fine sieve – strain this at least two times to make sure the liquid is extra smooth.

Transfer the sauce to the heavy bottom pan and stir in the brown sugar, vinegar and molasses. Turn on the stove and cook for about 25 minutes, so that the mixture reduces and thickens. At this point it should have the consistency of ketchup. Season the mixture to taste.

Once the ketchup has cooled, transfer it to a bottle or jar (with tight fitting lid). The ketchup can keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Tips and warnings

  • You can replace tomatoes with cherry tomatoes or tinned plum tomatoes If tomatoes are in season, you can make different coloured ketchup using different coloured tomatoes.

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