The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

December 27, 2011

Mark P’s Plastic-free Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Making my own ketchup has been on my “To Do” list since my last bottle ran out over a year ago.  (Clearly, ketchup is not much of a priority in the Terry-Stoler household.) Still, it’s a good condiment to have on hand, and I planned to consult with bloggers Danielle or RobJ who had already started making their own. What I didn’t realize was that just across the San Francisco Bay, my good friend Mark Peters had been making his own ketchup for ages, along with homemade mayo, homemade bread — sans bread machine — and much more. Sometimes I’m so quick to jump online for information I forget about the real life flesh and blood friends who are part of my life. SORRY GUYS! One of my New Years Resolutions is to spend more quality face time with the people I love. And this weekend, I started with Mark.

Yesterday afternoon, I went over to Mark’s house with a bag of tomatoes, an onion, and a willingness to learn. He’d already sterilized a few mason jars (to hold the finished product) and started a big pot of water boiling.

Here are the ingredients we used. Notice there are no BPA-lined cans involved:

  • 4 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup your choice of vinegar — Mark uses white vinegar. Whatever kind you buy, try to get vinegar in a glass bottle instead of plastic.
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice

Drop tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about a minute until their skins split.

making homemade ketchup

Once skins have split, the peel will basically fall off. Peel and chop tomatoes.

making homemade ketchup

making homemade ketchup

Combine chopped tomatoes with chopped onions in a large saucepan. Make sure to catch all the juice. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Next, transfer tomato/onion mixture in small batches to a blender with a glass pitcher (I don’t recommend putting hot foods into a plastic blender pitcher!) filling it only about half full each time. Puree each batch and pour into a bowl.

making homemade ketchup

When finished pureeing, pour the entire batch back into the saucepan, making sure there are no more big chunks. Add vinegar, salt, cloves, and allspice, and stir.

making homemade ketchup

making homemade ketchup

making homemade ketchup

Let the ketchup simmer slowly, uncovered, for several hours, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced about 50% or to the desired thickness. This ketchup ends up a brownish red color, not the artificially-enhanced red of many commercial ketchups. But believe me, it tastes fantastic.

making homemade ketchup

Transfer ketchup to jars and let cool before refrigerating or freezing. It will keep for about four months in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer. IMPORTANT: If you plan to freeze the ketchup, do not fill the jar all the way. Leave space at the top for expansion. Glass jars are fine in the freezer as long as they are not overfilled.

making homemade ketchup

If I had planned ahead this summer, I could have used beautiful farmers market tomatoes. But I have to say, it was lovely to spend a winter afternoon just hanging out and chatting with my friend while the scent of cloves wafted through the air and the windows fogged up from the steam. I’m starting to think cooking is the most fun when done as a team sport.

Next up:  Homemade Plastic-free Tater Tots — the best vehicle for homemade ketchup, no?

Related Posts:

Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mustard

Homemade Chocolate Syrup (the best condiment of all)

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I know this is ridiculously late, but thought would add my two cents: Very easy to incorporate a recipe like this when fixing a pasta dish: Just chop onions, prep the tomatoes (clean, core, criss-cross knife cuts other end), while water comes to boil. Blanch, set aside to cool if you want as clearly doesn’t matter if tomatoes keep cooking. If you chopped extra onions, and added extra tomatoes when blanching, you can set aside some of the pureed (or not) mixture, add some white wine, seasonings, whatever, and cook down a bit to make a fresh pasta sauce! Anyhow,… Read more »


Looks good. I made it a while back on my blog as well. Turned out pretty good, but I made mine in a slow cooker, didn’t seem like that much work since I just stuck the immersion blender in when it was done.


How much ketchup does this recipe make? (space is an issue where I live, so I would be up for making a few glass containers worth, but not oodles o ketchup.) (:


I would plunge the hot tomatoes in cold water after blanching to remove the skins. This will make them easier to handle and stop them from cooking any further. If you use a paste tomato you will not need to simmer as long. Slicing tomatoes are juicy and paste tomatoes are dry and meaty. Your local farmer can help you pick out a nice variety. To economize you can buy seconds from your farmer. Ketchup tomatoes don’t have to look perfect and if you talk ahead of time, you can buy large quantites of canner tomatoes and share with your… Read more »


YOu can buy tomato paste in the metal recylable can, it is a cheap and good ketchup if you are lazy like me and don’t want to cook. g


This looks great! About how much does it yield?

Susann Edmonds

I think it would cut time and energy to put the tomatoes through a tomatoe press instead of boiling to remove skins and blender to remove chunks. I love my tomatoe press.


I only have one comment: there is such a thing as a tomato machine
comment image
or as an attachment for a meat mincer:comment image

It peels the tomatoes and strains the bigger seeds.
Anyway, great job!


Sounds delicious! One little picky point about white distilled vinegars. I read in Karen Logan’s book, Clean House Clean Planet, about some white distilled vinegars possibly being made from petroleum derived alcohols. So I use Heinz mostly, because their white distilled vinegar label boasts, “Made from Grains”. Also, Logan says that for her, Heinz has a more pleasing vinegar smell that some other white distilled vinegars.


I had forgotten why I make my own ketchup. LOL.


I freeze my tomatoes on a cookie sheet overnight. When they defrost, you can just pull off the skins. I keep the skins to make vegetable broth.

It is a lot easier than boiling water and waiting until you can handle the tomatoes.


Thanks for posting this recipe Beth! Ketchup has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while. This recipe seems easy and has good reviews from you , so it is worth a try.
Perhaps I can get this task crossed off my ‘to do’ list this week.

Meaghan B

The one I use produces a bright red ketchup that is ketchuppy, no bbq sauvce-y. I make it in huge batches for canning – but this is the cut-down “immediate” batch. If you don’t “process” it, be sure to refrigerate! Tomato Ketchup 2 1/4 teaspoons celery seeds 1 tsp whole cloves 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken in two 3/8 tsp whole allspice 3/4 cups cider vinegar 6 lb tomatoes, cored and quartered (about 18 medium) 3/4 cups chopped onions (about 1 medium) 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 3/8 cups granulated sugar 1 tablespoon Pickling Salt 7 (4 oz) quarter pint glass preserving… Read more »

Tracey TieF

We’ve made our own ketchup for a dozen years. It’s a lazier method than yours. Here’s our “recipe”:

To taste:

glass bottle of tomato paste
maple syrup

Blend. Done!

Nowadays, salsa is more popular thanks to my 5 year old who is as yet untarnished by the outside world. She probably doesn’t know you can buy ketchup or salsa. *shhhhh*


Just in time, Beth! Two nights ago, as I inverted the bottle of Heinz, I said aloud how figuring out how to make ketchup was next on my list. Alas, I, may try it with some of the tomatoes I canned a few months ago. I can’t wait!!!


YES please!!

Though, it could be awhile… oh wait….come to the East coast!!!

We can make tortillas and (if you come in the summer) swim in the warm Atlantic water ;) (Serious)

Here’s the recipe in case you want to make them without me ;)

Mary Katherine

LOVE it!!!

When I made my ketchup, I used a food mill and didn’t peel the tomatoes. BUT… I should have totally gave it a spin in the blender to make it completely smooth. Even so, it’s SO yummy (well at least according to me, my husband and daughter) :) Still have a few jars left in my freezer… don’t know how much longer they’re going to last!!

Can’t wait until tomato season so I can make this!!

Thanks for the shout out… I’m going to make potato chips tomorrow!! :)

P.S… Have you tried making tortillas again yet??

Mary Katherine

Ok. I don’t think I added the peppers though. I’ll try this sometime.

Mary Katherine

I tried making ketchup a while ago, but it tasted like barbecue sauce. It was really good but it wasn’t something I would have wanted to eat on frenchfries or macaroni and cheese. Does this one taste like ketchuppy (not a word) ketchup? Or more like barbecue sauce?


Thanks for the post! Ketchup is huge in my house… or used to be before I banned buying anything in plastic. I made a batch of homemade ketchup in the fall but I have to tell you and your readers something very important: don’t use apple cider vinegar unless you are totally into the taste already. That’s what I used and the ketchup I made has been sitting in the fridge untouched… next time it will be white vinegar for me.