Catch-up on All Things Ketchup

Catch-up on All Things Ketchup

After the success of last week’s mayonnaise post, I thought I would investigate another favorite condiment: tomato ketchup.

So before diving into the recipe, here’s 10 quick fun facts about ketchup for you:

  1. Ketchup and catsup are basically the same thing. Ketchup was the name used in Britain, and catsup in the US , but Heinz decided to use the name ketchup to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
  2. 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of sugar. Since there is about 16 calories in 4 grams of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of Heinz ketchup has 20 calories – that means that 75% of the calories in ketchup comes from sugar!
  3. 97% of Americans used ketchup in 2017.
  4. On average, Americans eat 71 pounds of ketchup per person per year. 
  5. The biggest ketchup bottle is 170 feet tall, can hold 100,000 gallons and is located in Collinsville Illinois.
  6. Heinz ketchup travels at an average speed of 0.028 miles per hour.
  7. President Richard Nixon’s favorite breakfast was ketchup on cottage cheese.
  8. Looking for a great gift for the ketchup-lover in your life? Heinz sells ketchup T-shirts, socks, Halloween costumes and even luggage!
  9. You can also use ketchup for cleaning stainless steel, brass, silver and you can even polish your car with it!
  10. Ketchup originated in South East Asia and was originally made from fish and became common in Europe in the 1700’s. Ketchup was also made with walnuts and mushrooms. Recipes for tomato ketchup didn’t appear until the early 1800’s. Here’s one of the earliest recipes for “Tomato Catsup” from The Language of Food by Dan Jurafsky:
Gather a gallon of fine, red, and full ripe tomatas; mash them with one pound of salt; let them rest for three days, press off the juice, and to each quart add a quarter of a pound of anchovies, two ounces of shallots, and an ounce of ground black pepper; boil up together for half an hour, strain through a sieve, and put to it the following spices; a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of allspice and ginger, half an ounce of nutmeg, a drachm of coriander seed, and half a drachm of cochineal; pound all together; let them simmer gently for twenty minutes, and strain through a bag: when cold, bottle it, adding to each bottle a wineglass of brandy. It will keep for seven years. 

I decided not to use that recipe for my test since I didn’t want to spend over 3 days on making ketchup! Instead I used a Homemade Ketchup recipe from Serious Eats. 

What you need

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped medium
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 28-oz can tomato purée
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground black pepper


What to do

  • Add olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan and heat.
  • Once the oil is heated, add the onion and cook it until it is softened, but not browned – about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic to the onion and stir the mixture as it cooks for about 30 seconds.
  • Then add the tomato purée, brown sugar, cider vinegar, tomato paste, salt, mustard, cloves, allspice and pepper and stir the mixture thoroughly.
  • Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat.
  • Simmer the mixture for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally – until it has thickened to the consistency of ketchup. 
  • Once cooked, let the mixture cool a little. Then, using a blender, purée the mixture until it is completely smooth. 
  • Once puréed, strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve (Warning: this can get quite messy!)
  • Taste the ketchup and add more seasoning if needed.
  • Transfer the ketchup to a jar and store in the fridge.


How much time?

Overall it took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to make this ketchup recipe. Here’s the breakdown of the time:

  • Initial preparation: 5 minutes
  • Initial cooking and mixing of the ingredients: 10 minutes
  • Simmering ketchup: 60 minutes
  • Blending and straining ketchup: 20 minutes
  • Clean-up: 10 minutes

I have included the clean-up in the recipe time because the blending and straining of the ketchup mixture was one of the messiest things I have made in a long time!



It cost approximately $4.54 to make this recipe and it produced about 2 ¼ cups of ketchup.
However, I can buy just over 3 ½ cups of Heinz ketchup for $3.19. This means that making the same amount myself would cost about $7.27!

Is it worth it?

The homemade ketchup did taste great, but the cost combined with the amount of effort (and messiness!) means that I have to give this a 1-pig rating.

Homemade ketchup does seem like a great idea, but I would say that, in this case, you are better off saving your time and money and buying it ready-made!


Anything else I should know?

How long does ketchup last?

Homemade ketchup should keep for about a month in the fridge. Store-bought ketchup will last about a year in the fridge.

Can I freeze ketchup?

I was surprised to find out that ketchup actually freezes very well. Put the ketchup in a suitable freezer container and don’t forget to leave room for expansion because ketchup has a high water content so will expand as it freezes. Also, when you defrost it, it may have a thinner consistency than before. 

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