Home How-To How to Make Ketchup & Blue Ribbon Redemption

How to Make Ketchup & Blue Ribbon Redemption

How to Make Ketchup & Blue Ribbon Redemption
homemade ketchup from homegrown tomatoes

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.

What I was blogging about:


  1. Congratulations, Tom! Way to go! I felt your pain when I read the “ketchup disaster” post. I think I would have considered selling the house that night!

  2. This is not your ordinary Ketchup. It is easy to see why it was a winner. Thank you Boz for making sure that everything is done to perfection. Great pictures!

  3. Congratulations on the ribbon! I’m glad your stove was spared the carnage this time around. I can’t imagine how long that took to clean. Looks like Boz has the same fascination for tomatoes as our dogs. The ketchup looks fabulous by the way!

  4. Making ketchup is my ultimate tomato growing challenge. I can only imagine what yours tastes like. Judging by the picture, it must be sublime. Thanks for sharing the recipe and congratulations on the blue ribbon!

  5. Congratulations on the ribbons! They’re well deserved. I can’t wait to try my hand at making this ketchup although there may not be enough left to process by the time the taste testing is done. Ha.

  6. I’m going to have to give this a try, even if this means I have to buy a bunch of tomatoes from the other side of the mountains where they actually get sun. Aside from two little Sungolds, all my tomatoes remail green.

    I loved the “disaster” picture. It looks like something I might do. That had to be a royal pain in the ass to clean.

  7. Hi Tom, This may seem like an odd question, but about how often would you say you have dinner guests? I’m thinking it’s fairly effortless for you, and you have such lovely antique dishes! Are they family treasures?

  8. Looks delish, and is definitely going on my “must make” list. I made a BBQ sauce 2 weeks ago that was wonderful.

    Congrats on the blue ribbon.
    -A “neighbor” across the water from Manchester

  9. Wonderful! I was just thinking of your failed ketsup session last year the other day since I’m arranging the truck of tomatoes from
    Eastern Washington. There will be no ketsup from my yard this year. So glad if finally worked out! And emailing you about next week as soon as I schedule one other thing. Can’t wait to come see some Bulldogs and tall clover!

  10. Ah! This sounds so delicious! I made some ketchup earlier this year with some of my sacred homegrown tomatoes. Wishing i’d waited for this recipe! Mine is too molassesy/sweet – not tangy enough at all. Wonder if i can re-cook some of it adding more vinegar/worchestershire etc.

  11. Brion, there are other ketchups, like mushroom ketchup, but trying finding a recipe for that. Tomato-based ketchups reign supreme these days.

    Sandy, yes the mishap cleanup was royal and painful and where you said.

    Pam, I wish it was effortless. Since even my best dining friends enjoy tables and floors free from dog hair and dust, I’m forced to clean the house. Cooking is the easy part. As for the dishes, no family heirlooms; I never met an estate sale, ebay auction I didn’t like. Well, with the exception of a scary Hummel collection.

    Miranda, maybe you can dilute the sweetness by adding more tomatoes, then adding more vinegar and worscestershire to the mix and to taste.

  12. I’ve been meaning to make ketcup. Hopefully I’ll have enough tomatoes left over after I finish with sauce and salsa to try this. Thanks for sharing your Blue-Ribbon Recipe!

  13. Sylvie, Boz is a regular wet mop vac when it comes to cleaning any surface covered in food. Trouble is he has a tomato allergy which renders him a hive-bedazzled bulldog. So any time sauce hits the fan or floor, he is ushered out of the kitchen. I think he’d rather have the hives.

  14. Oh Yum! This really looks good. I’m sure that roasting the tomatoes before hand really does give it an excellent flavor.

    I’m bookmarking this to make as soon as possible. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Tom
    First of all: congratulations! Must be so exciting to win this ribbon!
    second, I am planning to make ketchup, middle-eastern style and was looking for a bit of guidance. Love that photo of the kitchen stovetop mess 🙂

  16. Congrats on the blue ribbon. I really enjoy visiting your website. You are inspiring. Can’t wait to make the apricot jam. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I made my ketchup but didn’t have many tomatoes (and no peppers) so I tried another recipe. I’m going to go back to the Market this weekend (with my wagon) to get another 1/2 bushel of tomatoes and some red bell peppers!

  18. On the “many kinds of ketchup” track – find this great book: PRESERVING from The Good Cook Techniques and Recipes series by Time-Life books. Trust me, this is a most amazing series of books, and the preserving volume has incredible antique recipes, including: ketchups made from apple, blackberry, lemon, tomato, wild plum, English (the elusive mushroom one!), elderberry (?!), oyster, lobster and walnut.

  19. LauraFlora, thanks for the tip. I love old (and great) cookbooks, esepcially when it comes to preserving food. My friend Teri just found a handwritten English kitchen notebook from 1855. I might make the cottage pudding if I could only figure out the measurements. A ‘dollop’ is the easy one.

  20. Hi Tom: Sadly my tomato harvest this year was under par: 200 heirloom plants all coddled from saved seeds and just now ripening. I am excited to try your catsup recipe as I too have had Freddy Kreuger decorated kitchens from prior trials. Wish me luck, Lindy .

  21. I am saving this recipe as a “todo” in the fall when my tomatoes come in. That looks fantastic and I can’t wait to replicate this process, except for that stove mishap, oh my!

  22. I have a batch of your catsup recipe simmering away in my huge crockpot, and it smells amazing! Sadly, my tomatoes here on Anderson Is are taking forever to ripen, so I picked up Romas at H&L in Lakewood. Roasting went quickly using the convection setting on my oven.

  23. 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. I need to find where to study to become a chef so that I will not ruin my kitchen.

  24. 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. I need to find where to study to become a chef so that I will not ruin my kitchen


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