This ketchup recipe is great for the times of the year that fresh tomatoes are so dear that it just doesn’t make sense to even contemplate spending a small fortune just to boil them down for ketchup.
This recipe is based on a Bernardin recipe. The change we’ve made is that instead of the first step being to make a base tomato sauce from scratch by boiling down tomatoes, the base sauce is procured by open jars of an Italian secret for such tomato sauce called “passata” and then the recipe is proceeded with exactly. Passata is a thick, pure fresh tomato purée, just exactly what you would get by boiling down pure tomatoes. The safety of the recipe is not compromised. The ketchup ends up with a very low pH — we found lower than when we made the recipe with whole tomatoes from scratch.
You can make this recipe with sugar and salt (21 calories, 271 mg sodium per 2 tablespoons) or, sugar and salt free (11 calories, 53 mg sodium per 2 tablespoons).
Feel free to vary the seasoning (yes, it’s safe to vary dry seasonings in home canning recipes) but do not decrease the amount of vinegar or increase the amount of tomato as that will affect pH which is important for safety.
Here’s a recipe to make ketchup from scratch. Note that the first few steps of such recipes have you make your own passata tomato sauce, which you then make the ketchup from!
Jar size choices: Quarter-litre (1/2 US pint / 250 ml / 8 oz) OR half-litre (1 US pint / 500 ml/ 16 oz)
Processing method: Water bath or steam canning
Yield: 4 x half-litre (US pint) jars
Headspace: 2 cm (1/2 inch)
Processing time: 15 minutes either size jar
Yield: 4 x half-litre (US pint) jars
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Fat: .1 g
- 2 litres of passata (8 cups / 64 oz / 3 x 700 ml-ish jars)
- 2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 10 cm cinnamon stick (4 inches)
- ¾ teaspoon whole allspice berries
- 1½ tablespoon celery seed
- 375 ml cider vinegar (1½ cups / 12 oz. 5% or higher)
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt OR 2 tablespoons salt substitute
- 175 g white sugar (3/4 cup / 6 oz) OR 2 teaspoons liquid stevia
- Empty the passata tomato sauce into a large pot.
- Tie the cloves, cinnamon, allspice berries and celery seed in a cloth, put in a large measuring jug with the vinegar, nuke in microwave for 4 minutes (add a few mins if doubling the batch.)
- Remove carefully from microwave, watching for liquid surge. Stir, then remove and discard spice bag.
- Whisk mustard, garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper either sugar OR stevia, and either salt OR salt sub into the vinegar.
- Add vinegar to the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, lower right away to a simmer, let simmer slowly for about 20 minutes until the ketchup reaches the thickness you desire on a spoon. It should be able to form a slight mound in a spoon.
- Pour into quarter-litre (1/2 US pint) or half-litre (US pint) jars.
- Leave 2 cm (1/2 inch) headspace.
- Debubble, adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Process in a water bath or steam canner.
- Process either size jars for 15 minutes; increase time as needed for your altitude.
How to water bath process.
How to steam can.
When water-bath canning or steam canning, you must adjust the processing time for your altitude.
For stevia, Better Stevia liquid stevia was the stevia used.
More information about Sugar and Salt-Free Canning in general.
- Passata jars seem to range from about 680 ml to 720 ml… any size in that range is fine. 3 x 720 jars of passata will come to 2.1 litres, but that’s fine to be over a tidge, just use them all. After emptying the jars, put the caps back on, and stand them on their heads for a few minutes to let more tomato sauce drain into the top, then add that to the pot as well, so you are not wasting any.
- Whisking the mustard, garlic and onion powders into the vinegar helps to avoid annoying clumps in the tomato sauce that you have to hunt down with the back of a spoon otherwise.
- To help the thickening simmer be more effective, use as wide a mouth pot as you can — such as a Dutch oven, for instance. If you double or triple the recipe, the thickening time will be longer. Bear in mind as well that the tomato sauce will thicken more when it cools.
- As a rule of thumb, to acidify a tomato product with vinegar, you use a tablespoon per cup (250 ml / 8 oz). This recipe, based on Bernardin, supplies 3 times that per cup, knocking it well and truly into the safe range.
- For every multiple that you increase the batch size by, you will probably want to add another 20 minutes simmering time. E.g. if you triple the batch, you likely should plan to let it simmer for 3 x 20 minutes, that is, 60 minutes.
A small act of disobedience
In general, the National Center for Home Food Preservation doesn’t like us starting recipes from processed containers of tomatoes; they prefer we start from fresh. The reason, they say, is that the pH could be different. However, given that we are taught to treat ALL tomatoes as though they have a low pH, and given that all tested recipes from reputable sources have you acidify the tomatoes anyway, and given that this recipe in particular has a load of vinegar added (resulting in a pH of 4.05 on the finished product), this is going to be our one act of rebellion in using passata. Intellectually, it would make zero sense to issue any caution about using it in a ketchup recipe with so much vinegar added.
Source: Tomato Ketchup. In: Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 80.
- Cut batch in half;
- Instead of making the tomato sauce from tomatoes, opened jars of it instead;
- Swapped fresh onion for onion powder;
- Added mustard powder and garlic powder.
What changes can I get to get my ketchup the way I like it?
You may increase or decrease the sweetness or the salt. That will not impact safety. You may vary the dry seasoning. You may decrease the onion, but do not increase it as that would decrease the acidity. For the same reason, do not add any other fresh vegetable such as celery or green pepper. Do not decrease the amount of vinegar. You may use any type of vinegar you wish, but keep the strength at 5% or higher.
Essentially, ketchup is about sweetness, saltiness and dry spicing anyway, and thankfully you may vary those without impacting safety to work towards a ketchup that you like best.
If you want a recipe that uses different fresh ingredients or a different amount of vinegar, then you really are after another recipe altogether. There are many different recipes for tomato ketchup: look for a tested recipe from a reputable source such as Ball, the USDA, Canadian Living or your local University Extension Service. Do not use unsourced recipes found on the Internet or blog sites as they could be unsafe. No one wants to be dipping his / her French fries into a side dollop of botulism.
If you don’t want to can this recipe, you may also freeze it in containers for long-term storage.
Per 2 tablespoons:
- 21 calories, 271 mg sodium
Sugar and salt-free version
Per 2 tablespoons:
- 11 calories, 53 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 1 to 5 tablespoons, 0 points; 6 to 15 tablespoons, 1 point.
* Nutrition info provided by http://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
* Better Stevia ® is a registered trademark of the NOW Foods Company.
* Herbamare ® is a registered trademark of the A. Vogel Corporation.
Cooking with canning