Monday, September 23, 2013

Home Made Ketchup

   I had to do something with all of the tomatoes ripening on our kitchen counters. I thought about salsa, spaghetti sauce, or simply canned tomatoes. As I looked though the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving I noticed they had several ketchup recipes. That struck me as a worthy use of the tomatoes. As it turned out, I had about 25 pounds of ripe tomatoes, just enough to make one batch of ketchup, I cored and quartered the whole lot of them with a little help from my favorite daughter-in-law. Before long I had a whole big kettle of tomatoes cooking on the stove.
Three gallons of cooked tomatoes

   The next step involved running all the cooked tomatoes through the "Juicemaster" strainer I had purchased a week earlier. This device effectively purees the tomatoes and removes all of the skins and seeds. That part went relatively quickly.  I also had to make up a spice bag containing allspice, celery seed, cinnamon stick, and ginger which was then used to make an infused vinegar that was later added to the ketchup before I cooked it down.  The only other seasonings used were salt, sugar, and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I actually followed the recipe very closely and resisted the urge to get creative on the seasoning.  It was pretty easy up to this point. As it turned out, the big task was cooking the three gallons of seasoned tomato sauce down to about ten pints of ketchup without burning it on the bottom. It took a lot longer than the book suggested.  I'm sure it would have been much easier if I had used just Roma tomatoes or some other type of paste tomato.  The 25 pounds of tomatoes I used were a serious mixed lot of about ten different varieties. As we had various visitors throughout the day, I let them sample the unfinished product. Most of them commented, "It tastes like ketchup", sounding a little surprised. It was like they all had expected it to taste like something other than ketchup.
Home made ketchup; both tastier and more satisfying than store bought.

    At the end of the day, I thought it turned out rather well. It indeed tasted like ketchup and looked like ketchup, although spicier than the ketchup from the store.  A teaspoon of cayenne pepper didn't seem like much when I put it into three gallons of tomato sauce. It was significantly more concentrated in the finished product. Now that I have made both hot dog relish and ketchup I'm thinking I should try my hand at mustard and barbecue sauce.  I would then be pretty close to attaining true condiment self-sufficiency. The Ball canning book mentioned above happens to have both mustard and barbecue sauce recipes.


  1. Wow! ...and spicy ketchup sounds yummy. Maybe after mustard you can try buffalo ranch? My question: squeeze bottle? Are you going to reuse a ketchup bottle? could make your own label and stick it on there!

  2. I actually have a case of glass ketchup bottles I could have used but I didn't have the lids to go with them. I'm making a jar run tomorrow. If I can find lids to go with my bottles I may can hot sauce int hem.