Wait, Yellow What?


Ketchup BottlesThis morning, I made homemade ketchup for the second time ever. And it turned out pretty good.  The bottles (pictured to the right) are cooling on the counter right now.  Once they’re done (I just heard one of them pop), they should be shelf stable, if left unopened, for at least 6 months, probably longer.

This originally came about because I wanted to give my dad something unusual and hand-made for Christmas last year. He ended up getting a bottle caddy with two bottles of homemade ketchup, a bottle of homemade mustard, and a bottle of unique steak sauce that I doubt tasted any good, but sounded like fun at the time. I had lots left over (like, one of the 12-oz bottles you see in the picture, plus an entire one-quart Stor-N-Pour®, plus a bit more. I just opened the last bottle about a week ago. I really like it; it’s got an interesting twang to it, making it taste more like a steak sauce than ketchup (yes, I know ketchup can be used as steak sauce). Probably because I ran out of red wine vinegar the first time, and had to substitute some cheap balsamic vinegar instead. But it still turned out excellent (and I do prefer it over any other processed ketchup that I’ve ever eaten).

This time, I was at Central Market over the weekend, and saw that they had yellow tomatoes on sale for $1.99 a pound.

Yellow Tomatoes

So I decided I’d try to make yellow ketchup. And it turned out OK. It’s not actually yellow, more of a dull brown color, but it’s still pretty darn tasty. I may end up having some tonight with dinner (burgers and fries, I believe).  If you read my previous post, you know that I decided to try making this batch according to the recipe presented by Jamie Oliver, rather than using the printed recipe from Food Network.  Here’s my observations on the difference:

I liked not having to find, buy, and chop fennel bulb. It probably made for less to strain out at the end as well. I also liked the shorter cooking time: when I cooked the last batch, I think I was in the kitchen for about 6 or 8 hours, waiting for things to reduce. This time, I started cooking at about 10:00 (after I bought and cleaned some bottles), and capped the last bottle just before 1:00. And that included a “Heather, can you stir this for me every 10 minutes or so, while I run to Chipotle for lunch?” I think that if I’d taken the tomatoes that I simply chopped, and instead made Passata out of it, I might not have had quite as long to wait for the sauce to thicken. But then I would’ve spent a couple of hours making passata, so I’ll call that one a draw. If I’d substituted white or yellow onions for the red onions in the recipe, I might’ve gotten a brighter color that was closer to yellow than brown. And if I could find a way to use a different vinegar without substantially modifying the flavor of the finished sauce, that might also add to the color.

All in all, I think it turned out just fine, and now I’ve got some ketchup to keep and eat, some to give to Dad for Father’s Day next month, and some to inflict upon give to my friends.  The full recipe, for those interested, is below the fold.

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Cooking Time: about 3 hours
Yield: Five 12-oz bottles


  1. 4 medium red onions
  2. 2 tsp fennel seeds
  3. 2 tsp coriander seeds
  4. 4 whole cloves
  5. 1 red chile
  6. pinch pepper
  7. pinch salt
  8. 1 kg fresh tomatoes, chopped with juices
  9. big bunch basil
  10. 1 liter tomato passata or pureed fresh tomatoes
  11. 250 mL red wine vinegar
  12. 200 g unrefined brown sugar
  13. 2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger
  14. 4 cloves garlic


  1. roughly chop onions, sweat over medium heat for 15 minutes until lightly caramelized
  2. grind fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and cloves in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then add to onions in pan
  3. Roughly chop garlic, ginger, and chile, add to onion mixture
  4. add a good pinch of pepper and salt
  5. add tomatoes and their juices, stir to combine
  6. chop basil stalks, stir into onion/tomato mixture. reserve basil leaves for a later step.
  7. stir in the passata, red wine vineger, and brown sugar.
  8. bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes
  9. roughly chop basil leaves
  10. off the heat, stir in basil leaves
  11. Puree ketchup in a bar blender, then pass through a fine mesh strainer
  12. Preserve in sterilized bottles; once preserved, is shelf stable for 6 months (possibly longer in the refrigerator)

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