Until very recently, it had never occurred to me that ketchup could be made in any way other than, well, grabbing a bottle at the grocery store.
But after deciding to eat a more natural diet, minimizing processed foods and ingredients, I wanted to give myself a small home kitchen challenge:
My goal as to try to make my own homemade version of this tangy condiment.
And I found that making your own is simple, natural, and even fun!
It’s so easy. All you need to do is put your ingredients in a stockpot or saucepan, cook them until they’re very soft, puree the mixture in a blender, strain, and cook it some more until most of the liquid is reduced.
What’s left behind is a concentrated, thick, spreadable sauce of pure tomato deliciousness.
Behold, catsup! Or ketchup, as most of us seem to commonly refer to it these days.
The liquid needs to be reduced significantly to get the right thick texture. To give you a sense of the reduction involved, two pounds of fresh Roma tomatoes resulted in just shy of one cup of the finished product.
So, if you want to make a bigger batch, this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. It’s perfect for preserving a huge homegrown harvest if you’re going your own tomatoes at home. (If you’re interested, you can find some excellent tips for doing this on our sister site, Gardener’s Path).
Put down the ketchup bottle, and make your own condiment right at home using fresh tomatoes. It’s simple, natural, and fun.
- Place all of the ingredients in a 5-quart stockpot or saucepan, and stir to combine. Cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, until the onion is very soft and the tomatoes have released their juices.
- Remove the bay leaf, and set aside. Puree sauce in a high-speed blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a fine mesh strainer and pour the liquid back into the saucepan, along with the reserved bay leaf. Discard anything left over in the strainer.
- Place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced significantly and the puree becomes very thick, yet still spreadable. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the thickness you prefer. Adjust the other seasonings, if needed.
- Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather and Prep
Set out a large stockpot or saucepan, a fine mesh strainer, and a sturdy wooden spoon.
Step 2 – Soften Ingredients
Place all ingredients in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and the tomatoes have released juices. This will take about 15 minutes.
Step 3 – Puree
Step 4 – Strain
Strain the pureed sauce through the strainer to separate the skin, seeds, and pulp from the vegetables. Firmly press down with a spoon to extract all the liquid. Add the strained liquid back into the saucepan, discarding anything left over in the strainer.
Step 5 – Reduce
Add the reserved bay leaf, and cook the liquid over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is reduced and a thick sauce forms. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the thickness you prefer.
Be sure to use a sturdy spoon in order to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan well, to prevent sticking and burning.
Step 6 – Cool and Serve
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve as you wish!
The ketchup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Homemade over Heinz!
The extent of my ketchup consumption has ranged from Heinz, to generic brands, to whatever was offered in those plastic red bottles at the dining hall in college.
However, as a girl who’s been eating mass-produced ketchup since she was old enough to hold a French fry, I can tell you this: the homemade version is so much more natural, more fun, and much tastier!
It’s different, and you’ll notice that. But it’s good, and you’ll notice that, too.
And when summertime comes, bringing with it baskets of harvested tomatoes at your local farmers market, you’ll know exactly what to do with them.
Try mixing up the flavors, if you want an even more exciting taste sensation. Add spices like cinnamon and cloves, or add a few squirts of Sriracha sauce for a spicier take. And you can use this as a base from homemade barbecue sauce, as well, for all of your summertime grilling.
What do you think of our homemade version of this very popular topping? How do you like to use ketchup? Comment below, and be sure to rate our recipe.
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Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 31st, 2009. Last updated: June 21, 2018 at 11:17 am. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.