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Making Homemade Ketchup From Ripe Tomatoes

Although it is a little time-consuming, homemade ketchup is easy to make. It is also tastier and far healthier than most commercially produced ketchup.

Let’s face it, when you buy ketchup at the store, you probably aren’t going to be aware of everything that is in it and will have no control at all over how it is made, even if you read the label. Many people don’t even think of reading the label on ketchup, in fact. As a result, the ketchup that is bought at the store often contains a lot of salt, corn syrup, and preservatives.

If you make your own, you can control exactly what goes into it. Please do keep in mind that the better the ingredients, the better the end-product will usually be. For this reason, I prefer vine-ripened tomatoes right out of the garden. However, even tomatoes from the store will usually result in better ketchup than what can be bought pre-made.

Note that this recipe makes enough ketchup that you can home-can some of it, such as in pint jars. The amounts given can also be adjusted for personal taste, which makes even better ketchup. This recipe can be doubled or halved with few difficulties.

Homemade ketchup ingredients:

5 pounds tomatoes *

1 large onion, finely chopped or pureed

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 cup sweetener: sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, or a combination

1/4 cup cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or wine vinegar (quality vinegar)

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp finely diced parsley

* For the smoothest ketchup, the tomatoes should be peeled and the excess seeds should be squeezed out. For this reason, Roma or sauce tomatoes are best for making ketchup. There are fewer seeds and more pulp. If you don’t care, regular tomatoes can be used and they don’t need to be peeled or seeded. The cooking time might be increased, however, because of the extra juice.

To easily peel tomatoes, put the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute, then put them in ice water. The peels should then be easy to remove and you should be able to squeeze each tomato to remove the majority of the seeds. It isn’t necessary to try to get them all out.

Homemade ketchup instructions:

1. Put the tomatoes in a pot, mash them with a potato masher, then heat them gently over low heat for about a half hour to release the juices, stirring occasionally.

2. Put the tomatoes into a glass blender and puree until smooth. This only takes 1-3 minutes, depending on the tomatoes.

3. Pour the tomato puree back into the pot and add the rest of the ingredients.

4. Stir thoroughly and heat the mixture at a simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it is thickened as much as you want. Note that the ketchup with thicken a little more as it cools. If it isn’t thick enough when it has cooled, the ketchup can be heated and simmered for a longer period of time.

Once the ketchup is done and has cooled, it can be put into jars and canned by the hot-pack method, since it tends to be acidic.

There is no need to add salt and you can use the sweetener of your choice. The variations are nearly endless. Any ketchup that isn’t sealed and stored should be kept in the refrigerator, though. At room temperature, it can mold fairly rapidly.

Feel free to experiment with the amount of sweeteners that are used, as this is based on personal taste and the above recipe is only meant as a guideline.

If you want spicy tomato sauce, finely chopped hot peppers can be added. You can also add chili pepper powder or cayenne. Again, this is based on personal tastes. I’ve even added finely diced bell pepper for a fantastic, though unique flavor, though it wasn’t ‘hot’.

This recipe is time-consuming since it takes time for the tomatoes to cook down until they are thickened. However, the homemade ketchup can be less expensive than store-bought, especially if you grow your own tomatoes or have access to inexpensive tomatoes, for instance, at a farmer’s market or from a neighbor.

You have control over the ingredients, the flavor is superb, there isn’t much difficulty involved, and the homemade ketchup is healthier than any of the name-brands purchased at the store. Naturally, if you want to mimic store-bought ketchup, you can, just by using corn syrup as a sweetener, adding a bunch of salt, and adding preservatives. If you want to do this, though, my question would be, “Why?”

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Written by Rex Trulove

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23 Comments

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    • It is something that is rewarding to do. There is something about making it in your own kitchen that is appealing and the health and flavor aspects are a ‘reward’ for the time spent. A person can make ketchup in a slow-cooker, but on the stovetop, it can take as little as an hour to make and the recipe makes quite a bit of ketchup.

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