Ketchup and BBQ Sauce
Gluten free, FODMAP-friendly
Yield: about 3 cups (I generally make a double batch)
This page looks like an entire cooking course, but a lot of cool concepts come together in ketchup making. The process is actually simple. It just takes time, so think of all these footnotes as something to read while the ketchup simmers.
To create the recipe, I started with the “Tomato Catsup” recipe in the 1964 edition of the good old Joy of Cooking, eliminated forbidden ingredients and simplified the process a bit. My free-eating friends like the result—the true test of a FODMAP-friendly recipe.
- 1 quart tomatoes (canned, fresh, frozen, or juiced)*
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste (omit if you’re extremely fructose-sensitive+)
- 2 Tbsp sugar (half table sugar, half dextrose is a good mixture++)
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- Simmer the tomatoes and tomato paste together in a deep pan or kettle until soft. Cool slightly, then run it through a food mill**.
- Return to kettle. Add sugar, cloves, and mustard.
- Boil all these together for about 30 minutes at a fast (bubbling) simmer, uncovered. Stir occasionally, oftener toward the end. You want it thick and reduced by about 1/3***.
- Add vinegar and simmer another 5 minutes or so. Salt to taste. I like about 1 tsp per quart.
- Decide how much ketchup you want to transform into BBQ sauce. Ladle the rest—the portion that will remain ketchup—into wide-mouth half pints or other jars. Don’t fill them completely if you plan to freeze them. Liquids expand!
- I’m not going to give canning directions. I finished my microbiology degree with a fear of food-borne illness. I leave canning to the pros and freeze mine instead.
Now it’s your turn to experiment! Add to the ketchup remaining in your pot:
- powdered ginger
- Liquid Smoke seasoning+++
- Kitchen Bouquet*****
- a bit more sugar and salt
- Adjust all the quantities according to whether you like it sweet, hot, smoky, or all the above.
- Ladle into small jars. Like the ketchup, the BBQ sauce freezes well.
Method #1, for fresh tomatoes: Have a saucepan of boiling water and a bowl of ice water handy. Prick each tomato with the tip of a knife. Dunk it in boiling water for 60 seconds. Then spoon it into the ice water for another 60 seconds. Watch the peel start to slide away from where you broke the skin! Now use a small, sharp knife to pull the skin the rest of the way off.
Method #2, for frozen tomatoes: Yes, frozen. If you grow your own tomatoes (Black Sea Man and other heirlooms make incomparable ketchup!), you can quarter them as they ripen, freeze them on a cookie sheet, and gather them into containers for ketchup-making later. Warm a kettle full of frozen quarters slowly. As they start to thaw, the skins slip right off.
Method #3: Get a Foley Food Mill and don’t bother peeling your tomatoes first. I find that this method means losing a good bit of juice and pulp. Still, unless you’re fond of tomato seeds in your ketchup, you’ll probably want to put the cooked pulp through a sieve or mill anyway.
+Tomato paste: What to do with the leftover portion in the can? Here’s one solution. Turn a Ziploc or other plastic bag inside out, and place it on a small plate. Spoon tomato paste onto the inside-out bag, creating 1-2 Tbsp blobs. Pop the plate into the freezer. When paste is firmly frozen, turn the bag right-side out and seal.
**Food Mill: There are other brands, but I have a Foley. Think of it as a precursor to a blender, one that still works when the power goes out—but it also sieves out debris, such as tomato peels and seeds. Little hooks on the outside of the mill steady it in place over a bowl. I pour in the cooked tomatoes about 2 cups at a time and then turn the central crank around and around and around and around and around and around. Smooth, mostly-de-seeded pulp comes out the bottom. Peels, stems, and most of the seeds remain in the mill. It screws apart for cleaning (much easier to clean than a juicer).
+++Liquid Smoke seasoning: You might have to hunt for this. I used to find it with spices in my grocery store. They’ve moved it in among the barbecue sauces. Look for a skinny bottle. It’s delicious on toasted almonds.
*****Kitchen Bouquet: This is a bottled browning sauce that makes barbecue sauce look like barbecue sauce. It contains a minute amount of onion. That doesn’t trigger my symptoms, but I suggest you use it judiciously (or omit) if you’re extra sensitive. This should be in the spice section. You can also use it in soups or gravies.