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.
Once skins have split, the peel will basically fall off. Peel and chop tomatoes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Homemade Chocolate Syrup (the best condiment of all)
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, cook pasta while chopping, pureeing tomatoes. When done with pasta, just dump tomatoes, other ingredients back in to cook in same pot – rinse pot in between if you’re afraid of pasta gunk.
Ideally, I save the skins for broth, whatever.
Romas the best tomato for sauces!
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.
Hi Nicole. As I recall, it made about 3 mason jars of the size that Mark is holding in the photo.
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 friends. Farmers like this because it’s hard to sell less than perfect fruit. (This goes for anything you put up at home: peaches, apples, tomatoes.)
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?
Heather, it yields about 3 pint jars. But it also depends on how much you cook it down.
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.
Hi Susann. Definitely if you already have a tomato press, using it would save energy. But for the occasional ketchup maker, I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying one (unless you can find one secondhand) because the materials and energy that go into manufacturing the ketchup press will outweigh the few minutes it takes to boil the water to remove the skins. But like I said, it depends on how much you use it. For those who process tomatoes on a regular basis, it would be a good idea.
The real energy intensive part of the ketchup making is the several hours of cooking to make the sauce thick and sweet. I think the only way around that would be to not make ketchup in the first place and to eat raw condiments like salsa instead.
I only have one comment: there is such a thing as a tomato machine
or as an attachment for a meat mincer:
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.
Good point, Reenie. I use Heinz in a glass bottle for cleaning and Spectrum Organic in a glass bottle for consuming.
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.
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!
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 jars with lids and bands
1.) TIE celery seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks and allspice in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.
2.) COMBINE vinegar and spice bag in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 25 minutes. Discard spice bag.
3.) COMBINE tomatoes, onions and cayenne in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently for 20 minutes. Add infused vinegar and boil gently until vegetables are soft and mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.
4.) TRANSFER mixture, working in batches, to a sieve placed over a glass or stainless steel bowl and press with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid. This can also be done using a food mill. Discard solids.
5.) RETURN liquid to saucepan. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by half and mixture is almost the consistency of commercial ketchup, about 45 minutes.
6.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
7.) LADLE hot ketchup into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
8.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
Hi Meaghan. Which ingredient in your recipe do you think keeps the tomatoes red? Because as you can see, ours started out red and turned brown as the ketchup cooked. Mark says it always turns brown. So I would love to know how yours stays red.
We’ve made our own ketchup for a dozen years. It’s a lazier method than yours. Here’s our “recipe”:
glass bottle of tomato paste
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!!!
Ok. I don’t think I added the peppers though. I’ll try this sometime.
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 ;)
I got my recipe here: https://www.thespruce.com/tomato-ketchup-recipe-996064
Mary Katherine, I can tell that Mark’s recipe will taste completely different from that one. I think it’s the cloves that give it the ketchupy taste. And just use plain white vinegar. Also — don’t roast the tomatoes or add peppers. That’s why yours is tasting like barbecue sauce, I think.
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??
Danielle, I have not tried the tortillas yet. I need you to come do it with me. :-) Wanna make another trip to the West Coast?
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?
Mary Katherine, it doesn’t taste like barbecue sauce to me. What ingredients/spices were in the recipe you made?
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.
Hey Meeshel. Thanks for the info about apple cider vinegar. I just edited the post to remove that as a specific suggestion since I haven’t actually tried it myself.