Ketchup is the go-to condiment when having some fresh-cut fries but it can also be a valuable cooking ingredient in a dish like meatloaf and it can help you make an outstanding homemade barbecue sauce. Knowing how to make ketchup at home can seem like a daunting task and it does require time and patience, but the benefits of making fresh tomato ketchup from scratch are immeasurable in terms of health and flavor benefits.

Store-bought ketchup is usually loaded with added sugar and preservatives that, while making it tasty, also make it a bad choice when thinking of healthy condiments. When you make ketchup at home, you get to decide exactly what goes in your recipe and you can tweak it to suit your tastes and health needs.

What You Need To Make Ketchup

a bowl of ketchup surrounded by ingredients

When making ketchup, you'll want a large pot, such as one you'd use for making stock, a slow cooker and a large immersion blender for when the ketchup is finished cooking.

  • 4 pounds of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups of white sugar
  • 1 ½ cups of distilled white vinegar
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • ½ clove of crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of ground clove
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard

How To Make Homemade Ketchup

homemade ketchup being portioned
  • Cut all your tomatoes into quarters. Place them in the large stock pot and gently mash them with a wooden spoon to get the juices out. Cook the tomatoes on a low simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend all the tomatoes to make a nice puree. You want the whole mixture to be mostly smooth.
  • Pour the tomato puree into a slow cooker and add the rest of your ingredients in as well. Cook the mixture on low for 8 hours. It's recommended to do this portion overnight as the low and slow cooking process is necessary for the flavor to come out as strong as possible.
  • After the 8-hour mark, remove the lid of the slow cooker and crank the setting for "low" to "high". Continue to cook the mixture for another 2-3 hours, or until it reaches the desired consistency (the 3-hour mark will give the consistency of commercial ketchup).
  • Taste the ketchup and add any final seasonings to suit your taste.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend all the ingredients until the whole mixture has a smooth consistency.
  • Take a ladle and portion the ketchup into liter containers or mason jars.

Tricks For Spicing Up Your Ketchup

a bottle of ketchup with chili peppers and extra spices

Once you have the basics of a classic fresh tomato ketchup down, it opens up a world of exploration:

  • You can add cayenne peppers and chili spices to give your ketchup an extra level of kick and they combine well with the tomato flavor.
  • Adding honey is a wonderful substitute if you don't like using lots of white sugar. It will still give you that sweet taste and gives your ketchup a tangy texture.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a good alternative to white vinegar as it adds another layer of flavor and you also only need about half the amount of apple cider vinegar as you would white.
  • Play with different vegetables and seasonings. Chopped carrots can add a little bit of sweetness to the mixture and spices such as celery salt and pink peppercorns add a layer of complexity that will truly make your ketchup stand out.
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