Into the Hamper: Ketchup

featured2When tomato season comes to an end I get a little panicky and start buying more than I can use. Ketchup is a great way to use up tomatoes that are a little over the hill.

I’ve used a few different recipes over the years, and they were good, but not quite what I wanted. They were a bit over-thought with some unusual vegetables and lots of fresh herbs. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but when you throw a bunch of basil into ketchup that’s what you’re going to taste, and to me that feels more like pasta sauce than ketchup. So I fudged around with a bunch of different ingredients until I wound up with a simple, thick, tangy, lightly spicy, sweet sauce. I used palm sugar, because even though I like my ketchup sweet I wanted to take the glycemic load down and up the nutrition a bit.

This recipe makes enough to last a while, but should you want to make a large batch and preserve it, directions for processing the jars are at the end of this post. I have a lot of canning/preserving books that I love, but my favorite source for directions on how to preserve just about anything is Ball.

If making this recipe outside tomato season I would use good quality canned tomatoes before I would use “fresh” but tasteless tomatoes.

Tomato Ketchup (makes about 3 cups or 720ml)

2 lbs. (900g) fresh tomatoes, any variety–red, green, yellow, large, small
1 medium onion–yellow, purple or white, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small knob fresh ginger, chopped–you don’t have to peel it
1/8 teaspoon (1.25ml) red pepper flakes or more if you want your ketchup spicy
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) celery seed
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A few sprigs cilantro
2 cups (480ml) water
1 cup (240ml) red wine vinegar
Coconut palm , white or brown sugar*

Start with a 1/4 cup (60ml) of sugar, taste and move up from there until you get the sweetness you like. I used 1 cup (240ml) of coconut palm sugar, but I like my ketchup on the sweet side.

If using large tomatoes, core the tomatoes. Small tomatoes can be left whole. Whiz the tomatoes in a food processor or blender until they’re the consistency of a runny salsa.

Add the tomatoes and everything but the vinegar and sugar to a pot and stir to combine.


Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.

Using and immersion blender, food processor or blender, puree the tomato mixture until smooth. Press through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.

Wash out your pot and return the tomato mixture to the pot with the vinegar and sugar.

sugarvinegar Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the ketchup reaches the consistency of commercial ketchup–anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours. Stir it often and watch it closely so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.

Cool and refrigerate. I find ketchup stored in a sterilized jar will last for months, but if you want to store the ketchup for longer or give it away,..


To preserve your ketchup:

1) Set up your boiling water canner.

2) Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

3) Ladle the hot ketchup into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar. Remove air bubbles by gently tapping the jars on the bottom or gently running a knife through the ketchup. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Do not over-tighten.

4) Process jars in a boiling water for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.

5) Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.