How to Make Ketchup & Blue Ribbon Redemption{39}

homemade ketchup from homegrown tomatoesAs good as it gets: homemade ketchup from homegrown tomatoes via some lessons learned.

My culinary redemption is complete. As some of you may recall, my last attempt to make ketchup did not end so well; my kitchen looked like Freddy Krueger had stopped by for lunch.  (Witness the tomato carnage in How Not to Make Ketchup.)

The good news is confidence has been restored and validated.  My homemade ketchup recently placed first in the Savory category of the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum’s annual Strawberry Festival Jam Contest. Yep, there’s a shiny wide blue ribbon pinned to my kitchen door jam, after being told wearing it as a lapel pin was not a good look. (Runners-up can be a bitter lot).

When asked if I would share the recipe, I replied, “Heck, yes.” No one should hoard recipes, and besides the beauty of making ketchup is the end result is always different, revealing the tastes of the maker one spice at a time.

And to my Northwest garden pals, relax; the following tomato photos are from 2009. My current tomato harvest would barely fill a thimble with gazpacho.

making ketchup, oven roasted tomatoes and onionsTo make a richer more deeply flavored ketchup, I roast garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and onions.

Boz the bulldog eyes a pan of sliced tomatoes

Boz oversees quality control and is quick to point out that ketchup is no apple butter. (Duly noted, Boz.)

best savory ketchup blue ribbon winnerVindication can be as delicious as a well made batch of ketchup.  (The red ribbon is my second place showing for peach-bourbon jam.)

kitchen disaster: burnt batch of ketchupBehind every blue ribbon is a path paved with tomato sauce and kitchen mishaps.

How to Make Ketchup — Great Homemade Ketchup!

I want to emphasize how forgiving this ketchup recipe is; add a little more of what you like and/or a little less of what you don’t. Don’t bother peeling tomatoes; it’s a big old waste of time. I use a mixture of paste, slicing and cherry tomatoes, basically whatever is coming out of my garden at the time. I usually make ketchup in September when I’m tripping over tomatoes and flush with jars. Another tip: because it’s a rich ketchup, I use pint jars. Quart jars scream commodity; this is anything but.

RECIPE: Tall Clover Ketchup


  • 10 pounds tomatoes
  • 3-4 sweet bell peppers
  • 4 onions
  • 2-3 heads of garlic
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • dash or two of Worcestershire sauce


  1. Quarter tomatoes, onions and peppers
  2. Leave garlic heads whole but cut tips off to expose fresh garlic
  3. Place veggies on baking sheets, drizzle lightly with olive oil
  4. Roast tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions at 400 degrees F
  5. Remove from oven when ingredients become pasty and lightly carmelized
  6. Peel roasted peppers
  7. Remove garlic and onion skins
  8. No need to peel tomatoes (a little texture is good)
  9. Place roasted veggies in large non-reactive pan
  10. Add all remaining ingredients, mix well
  11. Simmer very very slowly, watching at all times (trust me on this)
  12. After about 15 minutes on  low simmer, turn off heat, add a lid and let it rest until cool
  13. When cool, puree in the pan or in a blender. I use an Immersion Hand Blender right in the pan.
  14. It will be chunkier than storebought ketchup
  15. Return to heat and simmer slowly, always watching.
  16. I turn the heat off after 15 minutes and let it evaporate
  17. Repeat step 15 and 16 until ketchup is as thick as you like
  18. Seal, process in a water bath for 15 minutes (using pints)
  19. It also freezes well.

Makes about 8 pints depending on how meaty your tomatoes are.

box full of homegrown tomatoesBlue-ribbon redemption for these tomatoes and this humble (most of the time) cook.

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