Avoid HFCS, Make Your Own Ketchup

My dad is on a mission to get people to eat less ketchup, but it’s not because of the tomatoes, or the ketchup. It’s 100% because of the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). He can’t stand the fact that most national brands of ketchup have so much HFCS, and that it’s usually first or second in the ingredient list. So he asked if I would post an entry about this. Okay, Dad, yes, here it is!

In order to reduce his own consumption of HCFS, one strategy my dad employs is to use mustard on the rare hamburger and fries, and I said I would include that recommendation, too. I agree that Golden mustard on french fries is truly delicious, though of course you don’t want to go crazy with fries. And some people put vinegar on their fries (called chips in England), a British custom that is very properly appealing. 

Another strategy for avoiding HFCS is to buy a costly organic ketchup that is sweetened with sugar instead of HFCS. Is sugar is better than HFCS? Well maybe just a little, or maybe not much, but those fancy ketchups do have less sugar per serving, which is one good thing about them. It’s hard to recommend such an expensive product, though. 

I have another idea — to teach you to make your own ketchup. I hope that doesn’t make you groan. Yes, these recipes contain sugar (brown sugar is sugar), but the total amount is substantially less than in commercial brands. And though it does take some planning (mainly your shopping list), it does not take much time to throw it together, at least the first recipe. 

So here are two recipes for making your own ketchup. Notice that the main ingredient in both recipes is, as it should be, tomatoes. Dad, are you listening?

The first recipe is from Hillbilly Housewife, and contains just 60 cents worth of ingredients. With a fork, mix together one 6-oz. can of tomato paste, 1/3 cup water, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, ¼ tsp. dry mustard, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. salt, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1 pinch each of cloves, allspice, and cayenne pepper. Transfer the mixture to a container, cover tightly, refrigerate, and use it up within 3 weeks. 

The second recipe is from Kiss my Spatula. Start by preparing a spice bundle with 1 bay leaf, 1 stick cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon celery seed, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon whole allspice. Fold the spices into a square of cheesecloth, and knot it with a string. Place the bundle in a 4-quart saucepan along with 2 pounds roughly chopped tomatoes, 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, ½ cup cider vinegar, 5 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 medium chopped onion, 1 smashed garlic clove, and 1 chopped Anaheim chili. Cook on medium-high heat for 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion and chili are very soft. Remove and discard the spice bundle, and purée the sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer and return to the saucepan, stirring occasionally over medium heat for 30 minutes, until thickened. Transfer to a container, allow to cool, cover tightly, refrigerate, and use within 3 weeks. 


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