Homemade Ketchup!

Last week we made ketchup. Why, when the basic bottle of Heinz tastes so familiar? Three reasons. First, we ran out and needed a replacement. Second, we had garden tomatoes from last year to finish, as this year’s are beginning to ripen. And third, we continue to choose less processed foods when reasonable to do.

This seemed reasonable.


We had three sandwich-sized freezer bags with tomatoes left over. When those were thawed, the excess liquid was drained off. Here is the basic recipe.

Chop fine one medium onion and saute in vegetable oil until soft. Add a clove of chopped garlic and continue on heat. Add the tomatoes. (Ours were processed for the freezer, skins and most of the seeds removed, and in big chunks. In addition we added about 10 frozen oven-roasted tomatoes to deepen the flavor. These had skin on, which was pulled out as they softened and began to cook down.)

Add about 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a sprinkle each of cayenne, allspice, and clove. Remember a little can go a long way. Better to start with not much of each of these, especially the clove and cayenne. Add a bay leaf and salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until thickened, about an hour. Remove the bay leaf.

Let cool and then process in the blender until smooth. We have a food processor, not a blender, and our ketchup is still textural. We like it that way.

Caution: this doesn’t have all the preservatives and chemicals that store-bought brands have. Though there is salt, sugar, and acid — all natural preservatives — don’t assume this will last like store-bought. The recipe on which this is based suggested a refrigerator life of about 3 weeks.

The flavor is more complex than Heinz. The clove and cayenne add layers you don’t get from the store. We’ve enjoyed it on fried potatoes and are looking forward to something meatier, like meatloaf or hamburgers.




27 thoughts on “Homemade Ketchup!

  1. Kaila511

    Okay, I must admit that I love my ketchup, but making your own when tomatoes are ripe, sounds like a great idea to me! I might just have to try this out. Thank you for sharing, and have a wonderful weekend!

  2. OceanDiver

    This is a very timely suggestion. I have more tomatoes ripening than I know what to do with right now. I’ve been making sauce, but ketchup is a great idea. We use a lot since we eat a lot of potatoes (also ready to eat out of the garden now). Since the shelf life isn’t indefinite, I wonder if it could be frozen? Thanks for the idea!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I would freeze it, since I freeze other kinds of tomato sauce. But for sure I would label the packaging, as it looks just about like Italianish red sauce!

      Glad to see you. Enjoy all those tomatoes. πŸ™‚

  3. Steve Gingold

    I am not much for cooking and don’t have a very discerning palate. But there is this….

    Many years ago, there was a program called “Truth or Consequences” where a person had to answer a question or face some sort of funny but unpleasant consequence of the false answer. Pie in the face sort of thing. No one ever got the answer right which was the idea. Except once….”What do you have when you cut a tomato into a million pieces and then each of those into a million pieces?” Obviously given this post, the answer the person gave was Ketchup.
    Of course, given that no one ever gets the answer correct, the host denied it and said “Mess”.

    And then there is the question for the ages….Ketchup or Catsup? 😎

  4. shoreacres

    I vote for ketchup, myself, at least as far as the spelling goes. This looks like a great recipe, but I don’t use enough ketchup to make it worth while. I’ll say this — when they brought out our chips and “salsa” at the so-called Mexican restaurant in McAlester, Oklahoma, your ketchup would have been a far sight better than the ketchup that came with the chips. I swear it was straight out of a Hunt’s bottle.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      huh. Sort of a Mexican-ish restaurant, and not even very good in terms of that!

      Yes, we don’t use a lot of ketchup, either. It’s easiest to think of it on burgers, and we rarely make them. Jim spent the time to put it in the ketchup bottle, but in truth we’ll need to freeze at least half of it soon, so it will keep long enough to use.

  5. Thread crazy

    Your recipe sounds good…I’ve had so many small tomatoes this year, so decided to cook them down, run through colander to remove skins and seeds. Then I froze the liquid to make tomato soup later when needed. Since I love tomato soup this seems like a good way to use up my excess tomatoes. I will definitely keep your recipe in mind to try next time.

  6. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #28 | The Novice Gardener

  7. Michelle

    What a great way to use up all though tomatoes!! I’m a big a ketchup fiend, I bet this is even better than my trusty heinz! Thanks for sharing

  8. cookingwithauntjuju.com

    Homemade is always better especially when it comes from the veggies from your garden. I use to make it back when I had a huge garden and always way too many tomatoes. It does take some work to make but oh so worth it πŸ™‚


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