Tomato Ketchup

As you may know we have a glut of tomatoes.  I have wanted to make tomato ketchup for a long time.  My mum made us a big batch of it when we were little and of course being kids we all tucked into expecting it to taste exactly like the famous stuff and we were all bitterly disappointed and voiced our opinion of this to our poor mother. I often think back to that moment now and feel very sorry for my mum.  I have special empathy for her now, of course, as my own children often voice their disappointment with what I have just placed in front of them, mostly by exclaiming ‘yuck!’

As you grow older though your tastes change and this tomato ketchup tastes much better than the famous stuff.

This recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe in The River Cottage Cookbook (ISBN 0 00 220204 2)

1.5 kg tomatoes
1 large onion (I used red as that is what we have grown in the garden)
1 small red pepper ( or half a big one)
50g soft brown sugar
100 ml white wine or cider vinegar
A square of muslin or tea towel, boiled for a few minutes to sterilise and then filled with the spices listed below and tie with string to make a spice bag.
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp cumin seed
½tsp mustard powder
piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ground mace
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, bashed once to bruise
1 ½ tsp black peppercorns

½ – 1 tsp paprika and salt to taste at the end of cooking


Chop the tomatoes, onions and pepper and then place in a pan over a medium heat and cook until really soft.  I cooked them for about 25-30 minutes.

Rub the tomato mixture through a sieve over a bowl to achieve a smooth skinless purée.

Place the purée back in the clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar and the spices in the bag. Bring the mixture to a boil and the reduce the heat and simmer gently until the mixture is a good tomato ketchup consistency.  Keep tasting as you will need to remove the spice bag when they have infused the mixture to your taste.  I removed my spice bag after about 15 minutes and simmered the ketchup for about 40 minutes.

Add paprika and salt to taste. Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal.  This made 1¾ jar fulls for me.

I keep my jar in the fridge and intend to use it within a few weeks but Hugh FW says that it should keep for about a year. I can testify that it is great on a bacon sandwich.

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11 thoughts on “Tomato Ketchup”

  1. Kath! Thank you! We have been meaning to make Tomato Ketchup for ages – just the prompt we needed! Though I can’t believe that anything as delicious as this would last for a year. Certainly not in our house where someone has a serious ketchup addiction!

  2. Your ketchup sounds wonderful and a great way to use all your tomatoes (trying not to be jealous here) but I have always detested the famous stuff. Yuck indeed – don’t believe a word of it.

    1. I know Choclette, the cheeky little monkeys do say yuck quite often to my cooking, especially the youngest. She is a fussy little blighter. They never say yuck to cake or biscuit though, strangely enough.

  3. If I get chance I’ll try to have a go at this. (I’ve got most of that list and what I’ve not got, I’ll have improvise/do without). Like you I’ve a load of tomatoes to use up.

    You got any good tips on green tomato chutney? While I’m in a tomato using frame of mind.

    Thanks, x

    1. Hi VBB, Hope the ketchup making goes well. I have made green tomato chutney before, I think I have used Delia’s recipe in the past but I haven’t put one on here yet. I think we will have a load of them by the end of next week though, so watch this space.

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