Fermentation 4 — Ketchup


As promised here are two ketchup recipes. Ketchup has a long and sordid history. Probably the most commonly eaten condiment in North America; we have all used (and most likely abused) ketchup. Most people think of ketchup as an American invention, mostly because it is used on almost every thing. It turns out it originally came from China. In the 17th century, the Chinese made a sauce of pickled fish and spices and called it kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁) meaning the brine of pickled fish.  By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap (pronounced “kay-chap”). That word evolved into the English word “ketchup or katchup”. During this whole time the main ingredients were fermented fish and later mushrooms, but no tomatoes. The tomatoes where first added in 1837 in the Americas. By 1876 the Heinz company started canning and selling it without fermented fish or mushrooms. In the early 20th century extra sugar was added as a preservative and to make it more commercially viable. At this point in time Heinz started a marketing campaign telling house wives that now they didn’t have to go through all the hard work to make this delicious sauce. They added that the homemade version could easily go bad and be a health hazard, but not their special ketchup.

Ketchup is one of those things that most of us take for granted, but at the same time never thought of making ourselves. On the other hand, commercial ketchups are so full of sugar that most actually have more sugar than tomatoes. So our nation’s addiction to ketchup is more an addiction to sugar than anything else. The good news is that it is so easy to make, you won’t even believe it. In fact, I would have to say that ketchup was basically a watershed item in my DIY (Do It Yourself) achievements. I was almost mad when I realized that it was so easy to make healthy ketchup that was way tastier. At the same time, I love the look on my grandchildren’s faces when I visit and they say, “You did bring us some of your ketchup, didn’t you Grandpa?” Instead of all of the sugar and vinegar, homemade fermented ketchup it is full of pro‐biotics.

Turning a sugar addiction into a supplement, how great is that!

I usually make large batches of this in the fall, as we have an abundance of tomatoes then. I will put a small useable recipe here and you can increase to your household needs. This is not a completely raw recipe, as the basic ingredient is tomato paste, which will be listed later.

Here are the recipes or you can watch myself and Malcolm Saunders make them.


Ketchup 1

Makes 8 cups; 120 servings

  • 6 cups tomato paste, preferably homemade and organic
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup whey (or ⅛ cup vegetable Starter Culture mixed with ¼ cup water), plus extra to cover ketchup
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tbsp. Celtic Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground celery seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir together until combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into two 1-pint or one 1-quart jar(s), leaving approximately 1.5 inch of headspace to let the ketchup ferment.
  3. Top the mixture in the jar with about ½ inch whey liquid.
  4. Cover the jar(s) with cloth or paper
  5. Leave on the kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 2 – 4 days.
  6. Transfer the ketchup to the


Tomato Paste

Again this is quite simple. It is an essential item in so many recipes and basically the easiest way to keep a bunch of tomatoes from the huge fall harvest. When the tomatoes start ‘coming on line’ in the late summer and fall, we use them for everything, but it doesn’t take long before they are ripening way faster than they can be eaten. How to keep them for the winter? We have used many methods from freezing to canning, to sauces, but the most versatile is to make them into tomato paste.


All you do is slice up a bunch of tomatoes into a large pot and put them on low simmer with the lid off, stirring occasionally so they don’t burn. This is the basic process of reducing it.

After they have cooked down for a while, transfer them to a high‐speed blender, or use an immersion blender to break up any chunks or skin. You then keep cooking it down until it get to the consistency you like (a pasty thickness). Blend it one more time and can or freeze it if it is not for immediate use. It cans quite well due to the acidity. You can freeze it in ice cube trays for easy use later. Some people put salt in while they are reducing it.


Lacto – Fermented Ketchup 2

  • 5 cups of sundried tomatoes soaked in unfiltered water
  • 1/2 cup soaking liquid from tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup raw honey, maple syrup, or sundried cane crystals
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. fresh whey drained from yogurt, kefir, or raw milk
  • 2 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar, plus extra for thinning the ketchup, if desired
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves



  1. Blend the sundried tomatoes with 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid until you get a smooth paste.
  2. Add the sweetener, 1/4 cup of whey, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, salt and spices: then
  3. Spoon the homemade ketchup into a smaller mason jar, top with the remaining 2 tbsp. of fresh whey or starter culture. Cover the jar with a cloth and elastic band and let sit undisturbed at room temperature for 2 to 5 days.

After 2‐5 days, uncover the homemade ketchup and stir it thoroughly. Cover with an airtight lid, and transfer to refrigerator for storage. You can use it immediately, and it will last for several months in your fridge