Whole Tomato, Honey Sweetened Ketchup


Do you have an abundance of tomatoes either from your own garden or from a CSA? If the answer is no, then ask your local farmer if he has any “grade B” tomatoes. It’ll be worth it, trust me I was able to get 25 pounds of “grade B” tomatoes from a local farmer for $10. I was expecting at least a 10% loss due to spoilage, but I think we threw out 4 tomatoes from the whole batch, what a deal!

Homemade ketchup is work, but most good things are. After being unsatisfied with the ingredient lists on most store bought ketchups, I decided to try my hand at homemade. You might call us ketchup snobs now because we haven’t eaten, by choice, store bought ketchup since that first batch of homemade. After your first batch, you’ll learn how to make the process more efficient and you’ll whiz right through it.

Your kitchen may look like a Hollywood murder scene, with red splatter all over the counter and walls, but with your first bite of hash browns smothered in your ketchup, you won’t care!

Whole Tomato, Honey-Sweetened Ketchup
makes 13 half-pints

approximately 25 lbs. tomatoes
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ACV
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed, placed in a knotted cheesecloth bag
1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard seed
2/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon sea salt

Prepare the Tomatoes

Set up two stations, one at the oven and the other at the sink. I prepare the tomatoes in two separate batches because I can fit half of the tomatoes in my colander (use more than one if you need).

Station one is for blanching the tomatoes which will allow the skins to peel right off. Here you’ll need the tomatoes you’re working with, a container for compost, a container to place tomatoes before blanching, a sharp knife, pot of boiling water, and tongs.

Station two at the sink should be a colander, another compost bin, one container (preferably with a spout) for juice and seeds, and a container that will hold the “meat” of the tomatoes which is what we’ll be using for the ketchup. I use varying sizes of bowls and even casserole dishes as my container at each station.

At station one: Cut off any bad spots and place in compost bin. If tomatoes have no bad spots, then cut an “x” on the bottom. This will allow the skin to easily peel off. Place in bowl until water is boiling.

Once water is boiling, place as many tomatoes as will fit under water level. Remove after 30-45 seconds or until skin looks tout using tongs. Place in colander in sink.

Repeat cutting off bad spots and blanching until half the tomatoes are finished.

Once blanched tomatoes are cooled, remove skins and place in the compost bin. Over bowl with a spout (I also place a sieve over the bowl to catch big chunks) squeeze tomatoes to remove as much juice and seeds as possible. Don’t worry too much about this, the juice will cook out of the ketchup and the seeds won’t hurt anything, but the more juice we can remove the quicker the cooking will go. Also, we can save this juice for other purposes.

Once tomatoes have been juiced, place what’s left in separate bowl. This is the meat we’ll use to make ketchup. Repeat until all tomatoes have been juiced. About halfway through this process is when I heat the water back up to begin the second half of blanching tomatoes.

Blanch, juice/seed all tomatoes.

Now your tomatoes are ready to be made into ketchup!

Prepare Remaining Ingredients and Cook
Sautee onion, pepper, and garlic for a few minutes in a skillet, then add to your tomatoes.

Allow tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic to lightly simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Now, we need to blend using a blender/food processor or immersion blender (I love mine!). Use care when handling hot ketchup.

Once mixture is blended, add remaining ingredients. Mix together and cook over medium-low heat. Allow to cook down for at 3-4 hours.

Just enjoy the wonderful aroma of homemade ketchup cooking!

You will see the level of the ketchup going down, which is what you want to happen. It should reduce quite a bit, not quite by half. Grab a spoon, have a taste. Add anything you feel necessary. The amounts of ACV, spices, and honey can be adjusted some. After you’ve got the flavor right, remove the small bag of celery seed, and blend again.

And now you’ve made homemade ketchup!! 

Preserve the Bounty

Since tomatoes are an acidic food, we can preserve our ketchup using the boiling-water method. Any time you can, you’ll either want everything hot or room temperature. So, you’ll either put hot ketchup in hot jars and place in already hot/almost boiling water in the canner or everything at room temperature. DO NOT place room temperature ketchup in hot jars or room temperature full jars in hot water. I’m trying to save you the heartache I experienced after busting 2 jars of ketchup my first go-round.

You can sanitize the jars, lids, and rings in the dishwasher beforehand or by boiling in the canner. If using the hot method, remove only one jar from the canner/dishwasher at a time! The jars will cool quicker than you can fill them and get them in the canner and you’ll have a canner full of glass shards and floating ketchup.

Processing time begins when water is boiling.

To can ketchup: Place ketchup in jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place the jars in your water bath canner full of water. Process pints for 30 minutes or half-pints for 15 minutes.

To can the tomato juice: Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to pint jar or 2 tablespoons to quart jars and pour juice into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes in a boiling water canner.

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