Homemade Ketchup

Use that tomato bumper crop to whip up this classic American condiment.

Homemade ketchup enhances flavor instead of hiding it.

Homemade ketchup enhances flavor instead of hiding it.

Homemade ketchup enhances flavor instead of hiding it.

Homemade ketchup enhances flavor instead of hiding it.

Despite U.S. sales topping over 78 million gallons a year, ketchup remains a bit of a guilty pleasure. Originally, “Ke-Tsiap” was an East Asian sauce made from pickled fish, but it found popularity in the West when English sailors returning from travels east attempted to replicate the thick and tangy sauce using tomatoes and vinegar as primary ingredients. Although bottles of the third most popular condiment (behind salsa and mayonnaise) are on hand seemingly everywhere food is served, for many cooks, a request for ketchup is considered a sign of an unsophisticated palate.

Although this response to a condiment may be extreme, it is understandable. Commercially available ketchups today still list tomatoes and vinegar as their primary ingredients, but number three on the list is a doozy. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an inexpensive sweetener commonly used in soft drinks, is a major component, accounting for more than 25 percent of its volume.

Homemade ketchup, made with fresh tomatoes, apples, brown sugar and spices, is a revelation. Instead of masking flavors in a rush of sugar and salt, it enhances food with a flavor profile all its own -- still sweet, but with a tangy blend of complementary spices. It's easy to understand what made this once exotic condiment so popular in the first place.

Put those late-season tomatoes to use in this recipe for thick and spicy homemade ketchup. Great on burgers, fries, eggs or vegetables, it can even be used as a marinade for chicken or beef. Who knew ketchup could be so good? Pass the ketchup with pride.

Homemade ketchup will last several months in the refrigerator or can be canned for pantry storage up to a year.

Homemade Ketchup

  • 5 pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

Puree tomatoes and apples together in a food processor and set aside.

Sauté onions and garlic in a heavy pot until browned.

Add tomato-apple puree, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne and cloves to the pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a thick ketchup consistency is reached.

Process in batches in food processor until smooth.

Transfer into sterile pint jars.

Cap with lines and bands and process in water bath for 35 minutes.

Yield: About 3 pints