Homemade ketchup: Make it your summer secret weapon


A great use for all those tomatoes in the garden is homemade ketchup, a classic American condiment that’s easy to make and even easier to put on everything.

Summer is coming, and farm-fresh fruits and vegetables will be especially abundant in these warm months. Planning a cookout, picnic, or other meal? Want to shake up your usual approach to dressings and condiments? Why not try something easy but super delicious, like making your own ketchup?

Over the course of the last year, several of the restaurants where I’ve eaten have offered me two bottles when I asked for ketchup. I was offered a traditional brand and a housemade variety. A quick Google search reveals that restaurants have been doing this for years.

The question is: why?

Ketchup is a sweetened sauce made primarily from tomatoes and vinegar. Ingredients often include corn syrup, salt, onion powder, and other spices. It’s a staple in most restaurants in the US, where diners put it on everything from french fries to fish.

Variations on ketchup have become increasingly popular as spicier food has crept into mainstream food crazes. A local restaurant in my city serves housemade ketchup spiced with chipotle peppers. Target shelves are stocked with sriracha ketchup.

In 2000, Heinz introduced its infamous EZ Squirt ketchup, made with the usual ingredients but colored to be green and purple. The product was a Shrek tie-in, but the memories of it still haunt me.

I’d much rather have the spicy stuff than the colored stuff. Sometimes, ketchup is boring. And it’s often way too sweet. Homemade ketchup seems to be taking off as an alternative to the bottled stuff because it doesn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, which is generally considered to be bad for you.

It also appeals to people with alternative diets (like veganism or the paleo diet), who don’t consume refined sugar.

Homemade ketchup is great because the chef controls the ingredients, consistency and flavor. It also works within the farm-to-table framework. Plus, it gives restaurants something unique to serve its customers.

It’s also easy to make, which means you can make it, too! Skip the restaurant. Save money. Impress your friends with your fancy sauce skills. If you want to be really cool, order some custom labels and bottle it up for take-home party favors.

Ketchup is an all-year favorite. Now that tomatoes are ripe and ready for summer, take advantage! Make this summer absolutely delicious.

Check out the recipes below for ideas.

Homemade Ketchup Recipe Round-Up

+ An Easy Bonus

Not big on cooking? Already have ketchup in your fridge? If you want to spice it up without going all-out, you can do that too. Adding pre-made ketchup to other ingredients can make a tasty condiment that’s just as impressive. Plus, it uses food you already have, which reduces waste!

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My favorite is this Homemade Honey Sriracha Ketchup recipe from The Busy Budgeter. (Sub agave or maple syrup if you’re vegan.) Enjoy!