Monday, July 1, 2013

Make it Yourself: Kicked-up Ketchup

Kicked-up ketchup goes really well with burgers, and with new potatoes too

Here's what summer means to me:  Sun, warm weather, beach days, cabin days, lazy days, volleyball, hiking, kayaking, berry-picking, fresh garden vegetables, grilling, burgers, ketchup.

Ketchup.  A lot of you have a bottle of this stuff in your fridge this time of year, I would guess, particularly if you own a grill and ever choose to fire it up to grill up a burger.  Just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations in the USA, and before your summer grilling thrills are over, I bring you a new way to enjoy ketchup.  Make it yourself, and add a kick.

America's, and perhaps the world's favorite ketchup is Heinz.  As one of my favorite writers Malcolm Gladwell describes very well in his 2004 article for the New Yorker Magazine taste tests have shown that while people's preferences differ on many types of food, for some reason, this isn't true with Ketchup.  Most people prefer the same flavor in ketchup and studies have shown that this flavor is epitomized in a bottle of Heinz.  Further research has indicated that this is because of the level of umami in Heinz - the little extra something that satisfies the palate and keeps us dipping our french fries and slathering it on our burgers, sometimes eggs, occasionally potato chips (yes I've seen it - who am I to judge?  There are even ketchup-flavored potato chips available in some parts).

Kicked-up Ketchup and a summer burger

Ketchup has a wonderful and familiar flavor that is a part of summer for me.  I've used as part of a BBQ sauce for BBQ pork ribs as well as in the traditionally way to dress a beef burger.   And I've always used Heinz.  So why would I bother to make my own ketchup?   It's just that I like to make my own food if possibly because I enjoy the fun of the challenge.  And I like to know what exactly goes into my food, and making my own allows me to choose organic over non, and honey over sugar, etc.

This time I started with tomato sauce, not raw tomatoes, and added an extra happy kick using chili flakes.  The hot bite here is noticeable, but not overwhelming, and becomes quite addictive after a few bites.  The sauce takes a while to cook down to the desired consistency, but requires very little attention, so it's great to put on some evening after dinner while you enjoy some relaxing time and let this sauce bubble and do it's thing for a couple of hours.  The recipe below makes 4 cups / 1 liter, which ought to last you a little way into the summer at least.  It will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 months.

If you don't like the flavor or heat of chili, you can still enjoy this ketchup without the kick by reducing or omitting the chili flakes.  If you think this will make more ketchup than you need, feel free to cut the recipe in half.  As it is, it makes for a pretty addictive condiment.

You can judge for yourself if you like this stuff, or whether you prefer to stick to your bottle of Heinz.  As for me, I'll be pulling out this jar to dress up burgers and fries all summer long.

Enjoy every delicious bite.  Add a little more Kicked-up Ketchup with a spoon.  Take another bite...

Kicked-up Ketchup

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 - 680g jars or 6 cups organic Tomato Passata or tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon soy sauce, optional (preferably Tamari)
1/4 cup packed honey or brown sugar 
1 teaspoon ground coriander

In a medium, heavy-bottom pot, heat the olive oil and then add the garlic and onion.  Saute until the onions are translucent and tender - 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid, but keep the lid ajar so that steam can escape.  You are trying to reduce the moisture in the pot so that you get a thick sauce, but the ketchup likes to splatter and the lid helps keep splattering to a minimum

Cook at a simmer for 90 min - 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.  Taste.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or food mill to remove the chunks.  Store in glass containers, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Makes 4 cups / 1 liter.


  1. Omigosh, this stuff is good! Thank you. Looks like I will have to put my quart jar under lock & key if I want it to last more than a week in this house! Laura Bekkala

    1. Laura, we have that problem around here, too. :) Glad you liked it!