As I’ve been trying to transition our little family away from processed convenience food, and towards whole, nutritious foods, there have been a few things that I’ve, admittedly, conveniently overlooked. There are just certain things that you know are bad, but you have a feeling that 1)it’s going to be a hard sell to get your family to try something different and 2)the amount of effort that it will take to change it will be too much. And then, some things have that, “But… but… but…” factor, as I like to call it. As in, “But… but… but… I really like normal ketchup!”
(Before you say anything, yes, I’m completely aware of the irony of the brand of vinegar I used for this. Har har. Be careful or I’ll get belligerent and try to make my own vinegar!)
Yes. I’m taking on ketchup. In many people’s minds, this would be where the whole healthy, conscientious eating thing goes from, “That’s great!” to “Oh, you’re one of those people.” But bear with me. I’m on Team Normal People, I promise. This is doable.
We all know that ketchup isn’t exactly a health food. Most of us are even aware that’s it’s full of high fructose corn syrup and lots of other additives. And yet… it gets a pass. It’s just a condiment, after all. Everything in moderation, right? Well, that’s the problem with ketchup. When was the last time you had just a tablespoon of ketchup? If you’re like me, that’s not exactly how it works. Not only do I dip things (lots and lots of things) into ketchup, but it’s also become a pretty common ingredient in American kitchens. You find it in everything from barbecue sauce to pot roast recipes to salad dressing. It’s truly become a kitchen staple.
That’s why I decided that if I was really serious about this healthy eating thing, I had to address the ketchup. I started by buying the organic ketchup from Trader Joe’s. It’s really good, by the way, I’d highly recommend it. Even my husband, who tends to stick by the tried-and-true, corn-syruped version of everything, declared it better than the other stuff. This is when I saw my opening. This is when I decided to trying making ketchup. Like I said, we go through a lot of ketchup, so I thought, hey, I could probably save a few bucks by making this stuff on my own.
I was shocked how easy it was. It’s even easier than the recipe for Minute Mayo, and that’s pretty flippin’ easy. You put all the ingredients in a bowl, and stir. And that’s it. You have ketchup. What’s even better is that when you make your own ketchup, you can experiment and customize it to your own tastes. The version here is very similar, I think to the organic version that I bought at Trader Joe’s: it has a bright, tomato flavor, just slightly sweet, with the perfect combination spices. I know that you don’t really think of ketchup as having spices, but… well, I guess that just goes to show how far removed from our ketchup’s origins we’ve gotten. Ok, well, I won’t get into the philosophy of ketchup or anything. Let’s just say, yes, ketchup has spices in it, and they are wonderful and perfect.
Now I totally get it if you’re all, “Christina, come on. I’m not going to be making my own ketchup on a regular basis. Maybe I’ll go to trader joe’s and get the stuff already pre-made.” I’m ok with that, guys. But give this a shot at least once. Maybe tuck this recipe away for a couple of months, and pull it out again before you have a big backyard barbecue. You can impress people with your homemade ketchup skills. Or if you run out of the stuff in the squeeze bottle at the back of the fridge and you’re in a pinch, hey, you’ve got a recipe! Dinner saved! Just lookin’ out for you guys. Either way, I think once you try this ketchup, it’ll be pretty hard to go back.
Like I said, you can change up this recipe a bit to suit your tastes. You could easily sub in different vinegars (I think apple cider vinegar would be great) and sweeteners, too (I'm thinking honey in place of the brown sugar). Before you know it, you'll have your own signature ketchup!
- 12 ounces Tomato Paste
- 5 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2 pinches of Ground Clove
- 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
In a medium-sized bow, combine all ingredients and stir well. Transfer to an airtight container and let sit in the fridge for at least a few hours or over night. The ketchup will keep well in the fridge for up to a month.