Ketchup, as it is spelled today, has a long and a short history. Its antecedents probably originated in Asia and did not have much to do with today’s best-known method of preparation. It was rather a fish sauce with other ingredients such as (soy) beans, mushrooms and vinegar.
It may thus have been more similar to today’s Worcestershire sauce, which is made from vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic and all sorts of spices.
From the early 18th century, the ketchup of the time spread in England and recipes were featured in cookbooks there. The variant with tomato puree emerged in the USA and quickly became popular there. Around the middle of the 19th century, industrial food production gained speed and ketchup disappeared from the cookbooks – it was now hardly ever made at home, but bought.
Since industrial products often contain ingredients that are supposed to enhance flavour and increase shelf life, but which we would not use in our kitchen, we will explain here in brief how to make your own tomato ketchup. Of course, there are endless variations.
For a simple version, you need very aromatic tomatoes or tomato puree, some tomato paste, onion, garlic, sugar or honey, vinegar and spices. In some recipes, grated apple is also added.
The preparation is extremely simple. First sauté chopped onion in a little olive oil over medium heat until it begins to brown delicately. This can take up to 10 minutes.
When the onion is gently browning, we add chopped garlic and sweat this too until it begins to smell fragrant.
Next, we add a little tomato paste and gently roast it for another two to three minutes. This is important for flavour intensity, unless you have access to the very best, highly aromatic fresh tomatoes.
Now we add tomato puree. Again, you should only use fresh tomatoes if you have very good quality at hand, otherwise it will be difficult to create the desired intensity of flavour. If you want to use fresh tomatoes, you need a good 50% more weight than with tomato puree and the cooking time is considerably longer because of the many liquids in the tomatoes.
Now it is time for seasoning:
For dry spices, we use ground cinnamon, allspice, paprika and curry powder. Such curry powders originated in England in the style of the Indian spice variety. If you want to add a bitter note, you can also use a bay leaf and remove it at the end, of course.
In addition, add some dark soy sauce for umami and colour, some vinegar for acidity, honey or sugar for sweetness and a little salt to taste.
Now simmer gently for about 20 minutes so that the flavours can develop.
If you use fresh tomatoes, you must of course thoroughly puree the whole thing at the end. If your ketchup is too thin, you can thicken it carefully with a little starch. If you use tomato puree, short blitzing with the hand blender is sufficient.
And that’s all there is to it.
A little anecdote at the end:
We left the finished ketchup on the cooker to cool and quickly prepared pasta and a vegetable sauce for a hungry overnight guest before we had to leave the house for an event.
Guess what was eaten with the noodles when we got back?
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for about 600 g):
500 g tomato puree
50 g tomato paste
1 clove of garlic
40 g cane sugar or 2 tsp honey
10 ml dark soy sauce
a little vinegar
10 ml olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika powder
a little salt
1 bay leaf
a little chilli or cayenne