How to Make Ketchup
Have you ever looked at the ingredients in your ketchup bottle? It's not pretty. Even the organic brands have hidden "natural flavors" in there to mimic major brands. It's a shame, because you really only need a handful of ingredients to make ketchup taste like the ketchup we grew up with: tomato paste, salt, sugar, vinegar, and if you're daring, a little garlic. That's it.
The neat thing about making your own ketchup is that you control the flavor with those simple ingredients. If you like your ketchup with more tang, or a little sweeter, add more vinegar or sugar. If you like a thinner ketchup, drizzle in a bit of filtered water.
The type of vinegar you use can alter the flavor as well. Red wine vinegar will give your ketchup a nice bite, while balsamic will deepen the color and add a mellow brine. Below is a base recipe that you can easily adapt, on the spot, until your ketchup is exactly how you like it:
Yields: 1/4 cup (4 servings)
Allergy info: soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon crushed garlic (about 1/2 small clove)
Water to thin
Salt to taste
In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, sugar, balsamic vinegar and garlic. Add water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the ketchup is the desired consistency. Adjust seasoning, adding salt to taste, and additional sugar or vinegar. Set aside for 15 minutes and serve. Store covered, in the fridge, for up to 7 days.
Dawn Viola is a contributing food writer and recipe developer for Food Network's Food2.com, Chef2Chef.net, and is the voice behind the award-winning food blog, Wicked Good Dinner.