YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Homemade Ketchup

My dad has a very hard time with the fact that high-fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is the first ingredient in most national brands of of ketchup. He is on a mission to get people to eat less HFCS without compromising their love for ketchup. Recently, he asked if I would post an entry about this. Absolutely. Here you go, Dad!

You can avoid HFCS by buying the costly organic ketchups, which are made with sugar instead. But it doesn’t seem practical to recommend them with so many budgets being strained nowadays. And commercial products  usually have a lot more sugar than when you make it yourself. So I’ve decided to share a couple of recipes so you can make your own ketchup instead. I hope that doesn’t make you groan. It does not take more time to eat healthy, but it does take more planning. Here’s your chance to see it in action by trying one (or both) of these two delicious recipes:

The first, called “Excellent Homemade Ketchup,” can be found at Hillbilly Housewife. The website says this recipe contains 60 cents worth of ingredients. That should work! Mix one 6-oz. can of tomato paste with 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, ¼ teaspoon dry mustard, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 pinch cloves, 1 pinch allspice, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper,and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Transfer to a container and let cool. Cover tightly, refrigerate, and use within three weeks. 

The second recipe comes from Kiss My Spatula. It uses whole tomatoes and a slightly different selection of spices, plus a little more time and attention. Wrap 1 bay leaf, 1 stick cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon celery seed, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon whole allspice in a cheesecloth bundle. A cheesecloth bundle is just what it sounds like–fold up the spices in a square of cheesecloth, and then knot or tie it up with string. Place the bundle in a 4-quart saucepan with 2 pounds roughly chopped tomatoes, 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, ½ cup vinegar, 5 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 medium chopped onion, 1 smashed garlic clove, and 1 chopped anaheim chile. Cook on medium-high for 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion and chile are very soft. Then remove the spice bundle and purée the sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer and return to the saucepan. Stir occasionally over medium heat until thickened, about 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar to taste. Transfer to a container and let cool. Cover tightly, refrigerate, and use within 3 weeks. 

My dad also recommends trying mustard or vinegar on your french fries instead of ketchup. I agree wholeheartedly. Golden mustard on french fries is truly delicious, but I will just remind you to keep your portion size reasonable.

By the way, jars full of these ketchup recipes, wrapped with a bit of fabric and tied with a ribbon, will make a delicious and appreciated gift for hosts and friends. Remember to attach a reminder to refrigerate the ketchup and use it within 3 weeks.

Also, as long as you are buying cheesecloth and spices, here is another idea for a homemade gift: To make sachets of spices for mulling wine or cider, fill squares of cheesecloth with a 1/2-inch cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 2 cardamom pods, 4 black peppercorns and 1/4 teaspoon of whole cloves. Tie each sachet with twine and place in a clear jar or decorative box. Drop each sachet into 1-2 quarts of warming cider or red wine at least 1/2 hour before serving.  Hearty appetite!


2 thoughts on “YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Homemade Ketchup

  1. Dr Sukol – I’m with your dad as a fan of ketchup. Your recipes for “better ketchup” are appreciated. My solution is using more alternatives and reducing ketchup use, as you’ve suggested, but keep my brand-name ketchup as my sole product on my shelves with HFCS on the label. Our local burger place uses only in-house prepared foods (buns, condiments, ice cream), and local, seasonal produce, locally raised meat … with one exception — brand name ketchup!
    I share your column frequently. Thank you!

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