June 22, 2012

Home Made Ketchup

It's that time of year again when we trade in our crock pot evenings for cooking on the grill.  Once upon a time that would mean packing it away until October arrives with busy days of school and cool evenings.  But my crock pots have both been hard all work all week as we make and bottle our ketchup and BBQ sauce for the year to come.

We started making our own condiments some time ago.  I can not actually remember the last time we regularly bought salad dressing.

About five or six years ago we were at a friends house when I tasted the best BBQ in the world.  After much coaxing I convinced "Aunt Shirley" to share her top secret recipe.  I've been making it ever since.  Northerners, Southerners and everyone in between tells me it is the best they have ever tasted.  It is quick, easy, cheap and much healthier than those ones in the market filled with chemicals, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.  So why would we do it any other way?  Doing it in the crock pot takes longer but cuts down on the heat in the kitchen and means there is less need to watch it.

When a friend tasted my BBQ she shared with me her family recipe for ketchup.  I had always wanted to try homemade ketchup but had never gotten around to it.  Teresa gave me the push I needed.  And I am so glad!  This stuff is nothing like what Heinz puts in the bottle.  I was never a ketchup eater before but my family loved it.  They won't eat store bought anymore after eating this.  It is one of those things that makes us long for home when we are traveling.

This week we tried two new variations which I will include.  The family voted this morning as to their favorite.  Our classic, the new recipe and the spicy recipe.  The new recipe and the spicy recipe tied for first place.

Teresa's Home made Catsup (that's how she spells it)
Recipe 92 ounces (2 cans) tomato juice (or tomato puree)
1 cup vinegar
5 cups sugar (white or brown) I think honey would be delicious but it is so expensive around here I have never tried it.
1 can tomato paste
4 teaspoons cinnamon (reduce if you would like a milder flavor)
4 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons red pepper (ground cayenne, paprika or red pepper flakes)

Wachter Spicy Ketchup
92 ounces tomato juice or tomato puree
1 cup vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 can tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

I just throw all the herbs into my pot.  If you would like your ketchup to be more red like the store bought kind you could get cinnamon stick and whole cloves and put them in an herb bag with the mustard seeds.

That's all there is to it.  Now turn it on, bring it to a boil, reduce to a very slow simmer and let it go uncovered until it reaches the consistency you like.  As everyone walks through the kitchen they just have to stop and stir and taste.  If you don't have as many people you might want to stir every hour or two.  This is important as it reaches the final stages of thickening so it doesn't start to burn around the edges and ruin the flavor of the whole pot.  (You know how crock pots can be like that.)  On the stove top you must stir more frequently.  It will take about three hours.

If you put the herbs directly in the pot, the ketchup will be more brown like BBQ sauce than the red you typically see in the grocery store stuff.  Keep tasting it so you don't inadvertently burn the flavor.  In my crock pot this takes about a day.  I put it on the first day and let it simmer all day.  When I go to bed I turn it off and put the lid on.  In the morning, I turn it on high and get it heated up for an hour or so and then remove the lid and turn it to low.  It cooks like that until the second evening.

When it reaches the done state, I bottle and process in a water bath canner.  If I don't feel like messing with the canner, I put it in containers in the spare fridge until I am canning other stuff.  The batches we made this week were a new experiment for us.

Teresa told me her family stores theirs in vintage coke bottles.  We happen to have a lot of neat soda bottles and a shortage of canning jars.  We ordered caps and a capper from Amazon and bottled it up.

The cost was the same as a case of canning jars and who doesn't love finding a way to use something you already have sitting around?  We are loving the look as much as the flavor!


  1. That looks delicious and I love the jars!

  2. Oh this brings back memories. We had a couple bumper tomato crops when we lived in MD and we made homemade ketchup and bbq too. We haven't done that in a long time.
    Looks great and LOVE the bottle capper!!


  3. So if you use the capping method with bottles, do you water bath after capping? or cap and let them cool down? Thanks!

  4. Hi, Annette.

    Thanks for writing. If we cap the bottles we do not put them in the water bath canner.