Homemade Ketchup

I have been canning for many years now, and every canning season I like to add a few new recipes to my repertoire. Since my cold room is full of jams and pickles (and soon it will be time to do beets again) I decided to make something we use quite a bit of – homemade ketchup.

I grew up with ‘tomato sauce’ in South Africa, a slightly darker, redder, and saucier version of ketchup. It’s almost like ketchup and pasta sauce had a baby. Over the years I have gotten used to the fluorescent and sweet ketchup here in Canada, but I decided when I was making my own to try and make something more like the one I grew up with. It has a more grown up taste – more tomato, less preservatives and colour agents.

As this was my first attempt, it did not quite come out exactly like I wanted. I wrote down all my notes in my recipe, so that next year, and every time I make it, I can get closer to the yield I want. My batch is delicious, and will be perfect for the meatloaf, frikkadelle, and countless other things I make with it all year long. But here is how you can make your batch even better!


Above are the Roma tomatoes I used. They are best for water-bath canning. Over the weekend we had company over that remarked  “wow you have a lot of tomatoes”… good thing they were’t here when I was doing apricots… now that was a lot of fruit…


  • two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 2 TB mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 4.5 kg ripe tomatoes – Roma or plum
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers (TIP: I would use a little less next time, a little too much of a pepper background taste for me)
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 TB salt
  • TIP – I would consider adding a few red pepper flakes next time

Combine the tomatoes, onions and peppers in a large canning pot. Let simmer for about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile make your spice bags (with first 5 ingredients) using cheesecloth or muslin bags. (First TIP – make 2 spice bags. Making only 1 crams everything together too much).


After the 30 minutes, transfer hot contents (carefully) to a blender (or food mill, or food processor, or use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. Transfer back to pot.


Add in the sugar, vinegar and salt. Stir.


Throw in your spice bags.


Let simmer for at least an hour (Next TIP – simmer for even longer, to get a more concentrated ketchup – I was worried about making it too thick so I made mine a little thin).

Keep stirring regularly. Prepare your jars. And clean ketchup splatter from your kitchen cupboards. And a cat. (I may have been enjoying a glass of sangria while making this).

To test your ketchup, use the same test as for jam – put some on a cold plate, drawing your finger through. It should not flow back together. And it should have the consistency of, well, ketchup.

Cooked down and ready, it will look like this:


Process as per canning protocol. 15 minutes for 250 ml jars + altitude adjustment. Let sit for 5 minutes after turning burner off. Remove carefully.


Let cool. Check for seals. Go to a garage sale and buy more jars. (I bought 2 boxes full for $4! The good old fashioned Gem jars too.)


The colour is good, the taste is good, it is just a little runnier than I would like. I have already decided I will simmer it with some balsamic vinegar to use as a burger topping when we BBQ.

We had some the next morning for breakfast, it was really good with our eggs and European Wieners.


This was a fun, relatively easy canning adventure, and I will not have to buy ketchup again for a long time. I am happy I now have jars of summers’ goodness for enjoying all year long, something homemade rather than a product full of colouring and preservatives.

I hope you will give canning ketchup a try!



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