We KNOW that everyone knows what ketchup is. It’s a red, tangy, kind of sweet condiment in a squeezie bottle, and you put it on hot dogs or on the side of French fries (only monsters douse fries on top). For a lot of people, ketchup is a comfort food just for its familiarity and consistency- but there’s a chance that maybe, just like with a long relationship, there’s a chance you haven’t thought about ketchup with quite the same passion the way you used to when it was just you, your dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and a bottle of Heinz.
To be clear: we’re not here to shame the bottle you have in the door of your fridge, unless (and there’s a total chance this is the case in my own house) it’s been sitting in there for 3ish years. But our ketchup recipe is like a sweet and slightly spicy date night that’s ready to make you fall in love all over again.
Let’s reintroduce ourselves to all of ketchup’s components: There’s tomatoes, and in our case, we used two different forms- whole peeled tomatoes give that bright, immediately recognizable freshness of “tomato flavor.” Tomato paste, on the other hand, is far more concentrated and tastes a lot richer and complex. Though the whole tomatoes are vibrant, the depth of the tomato paste helps deliver the punch. But ketchup is more than just tomatoes, and actually, it was made for close to a century without tomatoes at all. A litany of spices are adrift in our condiment- cayenne pepper and mustard add a little “zip,” allspice and bay leaves give the sauce depth, and the light brown sugar and granulated molasses give that recognizable savory side of sweetness that ketchup has become synonymous with. Our tomatoes are cooked with some recognizable aromatics like softened onion, ginger, and garlic and the spice half of our ingredients list (mustard, allspice, and cayenne) because spices tend to get more fragrant and bring out more flavor by getting heated, where herbs tend to get lost if they’re cooked too long.
Once you have an already delicious base, you can now dress it up with any number of seasonings to twist into a new creation… We had a pretty much equal tie between each of our Curry Mango, Chipotle Cumin, and Chili Lime taste testers. The great news you could totally make one batch of the base, and just divvy up three portions so you could try all the different version, just using a third of each seasoning the variation calls for.
- 3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 Cups Onion, minced
- 1 Tbsp Ginger root, minced
- 4 Cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Ground Yellow Mustard
- ½ tsp Ground Jamaican Allspice
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- ¼ Cup Tomato paste
- 2-28oz Cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 Bay Leaves
- ½ Cup Apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Granulated Molasses
- Kosher Salt to taste
- ½ Cup light brown sugar
- In a Dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, mustard powder, allspice, and cayenne. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add tomatoes, and tomato paste and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
- Let mixture cool for a few minutes. In a food processor, puree mixture in batches. Add bay leaves, light brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, and salt to taste. Place mixture back in pot, and bring to a simmer. Reduce temperature to low, and cook about 1 hour, or until desired consistency. Remove bay leaves and let cool. The ketchup will keep for about 2 weeks refrigerated.