Homemade Ketchup

August 27, 2015
3 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes 4 cups
Author Notes

From the I Love New York cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara

Note: The original recipe calls for 8 large beefsteak tomatoes in order to produce about 5 cups of roasted purée. I filled two sheet pans with about 9 1/2 pounds of both beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, and I got about 14 cups of purée. Roast as many tomatoes as you wish, but you will need at least 3 pounds for this recipe. The extra juice freezes well.

Reducing: After the tomatoes are roasted and passed through a food mill, they will be reduced with sugar and vinegar until the mixture is about 3 1/2 cups. You can eye this—as long as the mixture is thick and looking somewhat like ketchup, it will be fine—or you can do this trick before you start cooking: Fill whatever pot you are going to use with 3 1/2 cups water; take a skewer or chopstick and dip it into the water; mark where the water hits the skewer/chopstick with a marker or a rubber band. Once you have this stick marked, you can dip it into the reducing tomato mixture to gauge how it is doing. —Alexandra Stafford

Test Kitchen Notes

Curious about the origins of ketchup? Tune into the episode of Either Side Eaters, where co-hosts Jen Phanomrat and Katie Quinn discuss its less-than-obvious history. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 to 5 pounds tomatoes, cherry, beefsteak, plum (see headnote)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Core and quarter the tomatoes and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill. This should yield about 5 cups of purée. If you have leftover purée, freeze it—it makes a very nice Bloody Mary. In a large straight-sided pot, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sweat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée, brown sugar, and cider vinegar. Raise the heat to medium-high to high, stirring frequently to avoid burning, and reduce the mixture to 3 1/2 cups, or until thick and coating the back of a spoon. You can also simmer this slowly over medium to medium-low heat—this may take as long as an hour. (See headnote above in regards to reducing.)
  3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend on high while streaming in the remaining canola oil. Pass through a chinois (optional) and season with the vinegar and salt to taste, starting with 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt.
  4. Transfer to a glass jar, cover, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Katy Carter
    Katy Carter
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • beejay45
  • bruce
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

11 Reviews

Katy C. May 23, 2016
Confused about the finished quantity: the recipe says it makes 2 cups, but you reduce the tomatoes to 3.5 cups and then add over 1/2 cup of oil to equal over 4 cups -- am I missing something?
Alexandra S. May 23, 2016
Good call ... now I'm confused. Haven't made this since last fall. I think you are indeed right: quantity should read 4 cups. Will edit now!
beejay45 October 17, 2015
I realize this isn't your original recipe, but do you have any idea what the purpose of the oil is, aside from sauteing the veggies? My mom used to make ketchup, and the thickness was accomplished by reduction -- no oil involved at that stage. And, wondering, is that the reason it only keeps a week in the fridge?
beejay45 October 17, 2015
I tried to move this to the Hotline, but, geeze, what a mess! So, I'll see if I get an answer here.
Alexandra S. October 17, 2015
You know, I think it's to add a little bit of body to the sauce. When I made the ketchup the first time, I forgot to add the oil. It tasted fine, if maybe a little big on that sweet-salty dynamic, and so I bottled it up. When I made it again, I looked at the ingredient list and realized I had forgotten to add the oil! So, I added it, and it just made the sauce more palatable if that makes sense. To answer your question though, I don't think the oil is actually essential. I think it could be cut, or I think the sugar could be cut in the beginning possibly, which would make the sauce less assertive? I'll have to experiment summer :)
beejay45 October 17, 2015
I guess I'll give this a try, without the extra oil, though. I'll save some extra puree, and if the flavor is too intense, I can try diluting it with that. It's a crap shoot, really, when you have no idea of the recipe developer's tastes. ;) Maybe they like it that way, and we can only try our best to get it to taste the way *we* like it. Thanks for the speedy reply. btw.
Alexandra S. October 17, 2015
Sure thing! And I know, it's so hard to know. I always hesitate to cut sugar/salt especially in condiments because I think they add more than just saltiness and sweetness, and I think they work together in ways I don't totally understand. Good luck with it!
bruce September 14, 2015
You go to the effort to make things at home from scratch, then us "Canola Oil?"
Tomatoes demand olive oil..... not Hexane manufactured GMO Canola oil.
Alexandra S. September 14, 2015
Hi Bruce,
I have a couple of thoughts. First, this recipe came from a book written by restaurant chefs. Restaurant chefs, in my experience, are very aware of their bottom line and use expensive oils sparingly. In a sauce such as this one, loaded with sugar and vinegar, I suspect the flavor of olive oil would get lost/be dominated by everything else — it's not worth it to use olive oil here. A neutral oil makes sense — all the sauce needs at the end is something to provide body and richness, and something to round out that sweet-and-sour dynamic. Second, if you want to avoid GMO canola oil, look for organic canola oil. I buy it from a store in Albany, and I love it for its neutral flavor.

I do understand your initial reaction to the recipe. There was a time when I used olive oil exclusively and wouldn't consider using anything but olive oil in a sauce. More and more, however, I am using oils such as grapeseed and canola when cooking and reserving my more expensive olive oil for salads and for drizzling over soup, etc.
Kiwiiano September 14, 2015
I'm curious as to the use of distilled vinegar. I'd never heard of the term but checked on-line and found it's a milder version of white vinegar. So what's the point of a couple of tablespoons in a cup of cider vinegar?
Alexandra S. September 14, 2015
This is a good question, something I thought about, too, as I made this. I think this is likely because distilled vinegar has a higher acidity than cider vinegar, it is included to add a bit more bite to the ketchup, something to counter the sweetness. I imagine the difference is subtle and certainly all cider vinegar could be used here.