Pirate Kitchen

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Canned Ketchup

Rob and I decided to make ketchup and if you ask yourselves, “why”?  we respond with, “why not”?  We have, as I’ve written about before here and here, an amazing garden this year.  We’ve had more tomatoes than ever before and after all the eating and giving away, they just kept coming!  We gave the garden a good cleaning out and the result was about 8 pounds of tomatoes.  I’ve been loving Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, Jamie at Home all summer and went back to take a look at his ketchup recipe.  Great and inspiring, but it would only yield one pint!  If I’m going through all the trouble to prep and can tomatoes, this puny amount would not really be worth my while and there would still be leftover tomatoes <sigh>.  So, I spent a little time hunting around the internet and checking in with my preserving bible and managed to pull together a recipe that would require at least 25 pounds of tomatoes.  Time to call in the big guns for the other 18 pounds needed: Maccarone’s Farmstand

Maccarones Farmstand


Maccarones Farmstand Street View

Karen’s family farmstand has been around for a few generations and while not rural per se, the area was rural at one time.  There’s lots of farmland still left and loads of family farmstands in the surrounding area.  Maccarone’s is the closest to my home and I stop there regularly for local produce and chit chat.  That day I bought a half bushel (about 18 pounds!) of her tomato “seconds” which weren’t pretty enough for other customers, but lovely to me and perfect for ketchup making.

Our last canning adventure making grape butter, was very successful and the canner, large stock pot, food mill and jars were waiting for us.

Whyte Garden 2Picking and a little garden cleanup while we’re at it.
Whyte Garden CleanupMost of our tomatoes plus
Ketchup Tomatoesthe half bushel box from Maccarone’s
Ketchup Tomatoes2This should make it worth our while!  Let the cleaning, cutting, cooking and canning begin.
Garden Fresh

Garden Tomatoes in the PotCooked Tomatoes At this point with the tomatoes cleaned, cut and cooked they’re ready to be put through the food mill to remove seeds, skins and any other bits so all that’s left is the pulp.  The pulp goes back on the stove with the addition of herb-infused vinegar and brown sugar to simmer for about four hours until thickened.  It did have a perfect ketchup-like consistency – not too thick and not too thin.  We had all the sterilized jars on standby and now were ready to fill them and process in a boiling water bath.

Tomatoes and Food Mill

If you’re not set up to handle this volume of tomatoes or the canning process, I highly recommend Jamie Oliver’s ketchup recipe for the sheer fun of it.  It’s very manageable and given the small yield of his recipe, you don’t need to go through the process of canning it (even though the instructions are given).  It will last for a few months in the refrigerator, but chances are you will have devoured it long before then.

There’s nothing like a spent garden to say, “hey, summer’s over”, but jars of beautiful homemade ketchup will preserve the memory of our beautiful and bountiful summer.

Homemade Ketchup

Yields 1 Gallon or 8 pint-sized jars

*Read the recipe through before getting started to help organize equipment and ingredients.  Things will go much more quickly and will be more fun!

Special Equipment:  Boiling Water Canner, Jar Rack, Jar Lifter, Wide Mouth Funnel, 12 pint-sized jars (good to have a few extra!), 5 Gallon stock or lobster pot.

Ingredients – Vinegar Infusion

  • 1 quart or 4 Cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander seed
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed

Add vinegar and worcestershire sauce to a medium non-reactive (like stainless steel, not aluminum) saucepan.  Place the rest of the ingredients in a cheesecloth square and tie into a bundle with thread and drop into the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the spice bundle and set infused vinegar aside.


Ingredients For Tomato Base:

  • 25 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut the end off, remove any dark spots and chop including stalk and fronds
  • 1 bunch celery and leaves, chopped
  • 1 large chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • Bunch of basil leaves
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar

In a large saute pan, heat a large glug (approx. 2 Tablespoons) of olive oil then add the onion, fennel, celery, ginger and generous Tablespoon of salt and cook until softened. Set aside.

Remove any bad parts from the tomatoes,  halve or quarter the very large ones and add to a 5 gallon stock/lobster pot with the cooked vegetables.  Crush with a spoon to release tomato juices to help with the cooking process.  Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and released more of their juices.  Turn off the heat and add 1/2 Tablespoon of cayenne pepper and bunch of basil leaves. Whiz with a hand blender until smooth.  Next run the mixture through a food mill in batches, using the disk with the smallest holes, to remove the seeds, skins and other bits.  Have a trash can handy to dump what’s left behind and don’t forget to scrape the good stuff off the back of the disk!

Put the milled mix back on the stove, add 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar and the infused vinegar.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 4 hours or until the mixture reduces by about half, thickens and starts to resemble…ketchup!

At this point, add about 3 T salt, ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Makes one gallon or 8 pint-sized jars.

Canning and PreservingReferences:

National Center for Home Food Preservation
Stocking Up:  The Classic Preserving Guide


Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Homemade Tomato Ketchup and Jim Ledvinka’s Bohemian Ketchup recipes

Print Friendly