Apr 17, 2013

Homemade Ketchup. Because I Can.

Ketchup is such a commonly purchased pantry item that sometimes we don’t even consider that it can be made at home. Why bother, you ask? For one, it’s nearly impossible to find ketchup that does not contain either sugar or worse (if there could be something worse), high fructose corn syrup.

Wait. Speaking of sugar and corn syrup, I have to say something just to get it off my chest… I was at the health food store yesterday where I sometimes shop, in Asheville. Strolling through the cafe section—they have a self-serve buffet—and next to the condiment bar, in a huge rustic-looking barrel I saw…. Coca Cola. I’m not kidding. There it was in its red and white glory, on ice… IN MY HEALTH FOOD STORE! I thought I was seeing things. I am writing to the manager to ask if she’s planning on selling Big Macs next week. Is nothing sacred? There. Said.

Okay, back to the ketchup. Where did ketchup (or catsup as it was sometimes spelled) originate? China! I was surprised to learn this. It was a sauce made of pickled fish. The tomato-based ketchup we grew up with did not hit the scene here in the states until the early 1800s.

1934 ketchup ad
I mentioned in my post yesterday that I once ran the kitchen at a boarding school. We never used sugar or other processed foods. The meals created for the students were mostly whole-food derived. So we made our own ketchup. It was good. But we used a ton of molasses in the recipe. Molasses. Basically sugar hiding in a dark, syrupy cloak. It does have some vitamin and mineral content, but ultimately it’s just a sugar byproduct. Yes, I do use some molasses in my recipe. It adds a rich undertone to the flavor. But just a bit. It’s mostly sweetened with dates! 
Here you go…


  • 1 12oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ TBS paprika
  • 1 TBS onion powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS black strap molasses (contains the least amount of sugar of all molasses and contains the most minerals)
  • 4 dates
  • 1½ – 2 cups water


  1. Place 1½ cups water and dates in high powdered blender and blend until the dates are incorporated.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. You will probably have to stop periodically to scrape down the sides. The mixture will be quite thick. Add more water as needed.
Makes about 2 cups. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy!
Healthy trails,

4 responses to “Homemade Ketchup. Because I Can.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    So glad to have found you. All of your recipes are amazing! Thanks so much. ?…can this ketchup be frozen?

  2. Helyn says:

    I'm happy that you like the recipes! Gee, I never tried freezing it.. hmmm.. worth a try I'd say. The only thing that could happen is it may separate. If you freeze it, let me know how it works, will you? Thanks!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Greetings from Colorado! Thank you, Helyn! This is great. We left out the soy sauce to make it sodium free and it was still great. Sending our very best wishes to you, our favorite vegan chef!

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