homemade ketchup


While I was growing up, and until a few years ago, when it came to burgers and fries, I was a ketchup fiend. I had a friend ask me once, while we were eating at a now defunct burger place we visited often, “would you like a burger and fries with that ketchup?” When it came to certain foods, ketchup was definitely a serious condiment, and though I use much less of it now, I still prefer it to barbecue sauce when given the choice for dressing basic sandwiches or fries.

Sometime during my many years of slathering the sweet red sauce on my food, commercial ketchup makers began to add high fructose corn syrup to their product. When I decided to avoid products containing the syrup, I began to look for organic versions, made instead with regular sugar. Finally, as part of this series of posts on a homemade burger meal, I made it myself, using a recipe by Susan Odell from the Vitamix Create cookbook. It’s nearly an exact taste match for the organic brand I typically buy, and can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes.


When making this version, I tried three different types of tomatoes-a fresh “on the vine” basic type, oval plum tomatoes, and whole peeled canned tomatoes. The plum tomatoes gave the ketchup a little darker flavor, and the canned tomatoes gave the brightest taste. The taste and color I preferred the most came from using canned tomatoes and adding tomato paste to deepen the tomato flavor a little more. I also increased the amount of vinegar from the original recipe to give it a similar bite to the commercial organic brand I prefer. The idea is to use this recipe as a starting point to experiment and tweak the flavors just the way you like. You might even be happy with the flavors as they are in the recipe, and once you master this homemade ketchup, you’re one step closer to the perfect homemade hamburger meal.

Homemade Ketchup

(recipe adapted from the Vitamix Create cookbook)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (use an organic brand without extra flavorings or additives)
1/2 cup tomato paste (also organic with no extra flavorings or additives)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground dry yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until soft but not browned for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, open the canned tomatoes and remove the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and add back to the can. When the onions have softened, add the tomatoes and their liquid to the saucepan. Add the brown sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard, celery salt, garlic powder, cloves and allspice, and stir to blend with the tomato and onion mixture.

Bring the tomato mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, reducing until most of the water is evaporated and mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in tomato paste.

Purée tomato mixture in a high-powered blender until smooth, about 30 seconds or so. Put in a container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Makes about 4 cups

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