In the Crumbs house, 2014 is the year of tomatoes.
First, we planted them.
It started as two small seedlings each in their own pot, but soon after transplanting outside, the grey flesh fruit flies came and staked their claim. We fought them off and planted two more seedlings into two more pots, just in case the damage had already been done.
Next, we were given them.
Over 50 heirloom tomatoes sat in our foyer for a few days, with me too overwhelmed with mere idea of having that many tomatoes to do anything with them. When it became clear that it would be impossible to eat the tomatoes before they would go bad, they became the only thing I could think of cooking at the time: sauce.
It’s a simple, unseasoned sauce so that any jar can easily transform into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce or even substitute in our favorite Creole, depending on what the meal plan had in store. After a big canning session, ten pints of tomato sauce now sit in my pantry, waiting patiently.
Then, the first two seedlings produced their first fruits.
Although just a handful or two and on the small side (2″ in diameter), these tomatoes were delicious. They were perfectly ripe, meaty and juicy and made the most amazing lunch when tossed with fresh mozzarella and salt, and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar. About a week later, we harvested another handful that became our first batch of fresh garden pizza sauce.
After that, they came in the CSA box.
With our CSA came huge, oversized heirloom tomatoes begged to be sliced into sandwiches and chopped into salads. Along with the handful of garden tomatoes every few days, we didn’t have to choose between tomatoes for lunch OR dinner. When given the opportunity to bring a dish to a pot luck, “something with tomatoes” was the first choice.
Shortly thereafter, the first two plants went ballistic.
Every other day we were easily picking 5-15 tomatoes on a between these two plants. Caprese salad HAD to be on the lunch menu every day (minus the cheese when we ran out), the kids had free reign to snack on them and “what’s for dinner” turned into “what can we make with these tomatoes?”
Then, the second two plants took off. And the CSA box did too.
Without warning, the second two “just in case” tomato plants started producing and we were picking 5-10 tomatoes DAILY. Faced with more than an abundance of tomatoes, I was quickly running out of ideas as to what to do with them.
No tomato sauce. We already had plenty.
There was garden pizza sauce every week, but that barely made a dent.
We even made homemade tomato paste once, although it was on accident when Mr. Crumbs thought garden pizza sauce needed water.
One can only eat caprese salad for lunch for so many days without going a bit stir-crazy.
Even when I exhausted the bowl of tomatoes for pico de gallo on Labor Day, the four plants were waiting with more tomatoes the very next day. And as predicted, the CSA box had more too.
Not wanting to waste this precious food, I took the dilemma to my step-mom, who always seems to be full of fresh and interesting ideas.
“Make ketchup” is what she said.
My reaction was similar to the first time I heard you can make yogurt. You can MAKE that?!
As it turns out, yes, you can make ketchup and it’s really quite easy! Good thing too, since our mild climate means we’ll be swimming in tomatoes until Christmas.
Homemade Ketchup Recipe
- Large Stock Pot
- Immersion Blender OR Blender
- Food Mill (optional)
- Wooden Spoon or Potato Masher
- Slow Cooker
- Ingredients (see recipe below)
Depending on the size, halve or quarter tomatoes so that they’re approximately 1 – 1 1/2″ pieces.
Place in a large stock pot. Using a wooden spoon or a potato masher, gently mash the tomatoes to release their juices. Cook the tomatoes on a low simmer for 30 minutes.
Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the tomatoes until they are mostly smooth.
(Optional: If you have a food mill, you may process the tomatoes through in order to remove the seeds and skin. I don’t have one and my ketchup turned out just fine.)
Pour tomato puree into a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low overnight, or 8-12 hours. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the mixture again until it is mostly smooth.
Using chopsticks or dull knives, prop open the lid of the slow cooker on opposite sides so that the lid does not touch the slow cooker. Cook the mixture on medium/high setting until the mixture has cooked down to the desired thickness, checking every hour or so. This takes approximately 3 hours.
Taste ketchup and add additional seasoning or sweetness as desired. (I ended up adding one more tablespoon of honey.)
Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the mixture one final time.
Ladle or scoop into glass jars for storage. Alternatively, you can re-use old ketchup bottles for your new, homemade ketchup.
A simple and delicious homemade ketchup recipe using fresh tomatoes. With a slow cooker, it’s incredibly easy and you control the sweetness!
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 11 hours 30 min
- Total Time: 11 hours 45 minutes
- Yield: 32 ounces 1x
- Category: Sauces & Condiments
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: American
- 5 lbs fresh tomatoes (the better tasting the tomato, the better tasting the ketchup)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp brown or Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1/4 large onion, diced
- 1/2 clove garlic
- Depending on the size, halve or quarter tomatoes so that they’re approximately 1 – 1 1/2″ pieces.
- Place in a large stockpot. Using a wooden spoon or a potato masher, gently mash the tomatoes to release their juices. Cook the tomatoes on a low simmer for 30 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the tomatoes until they are mostly smooth.
- Pour tomato puree into a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low overnight, or 8-12 hours. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the mixture again until it is mostly smooth.
- Using chopsticks or dull knives, prop open the lid of the slow cooker on opposite sides so that the lid does not touch the slow cooker. Cook the mixture on medium/high setting until the mixture has cooked down to the desired thickness, checking every hour or so. This takes approximately 3 hours.
- Taste ketchup and add additional seasoning or sweetness as desired. (I ended up adding one more tablespoon of honey.)
- Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the mixture one final time.
- Ladle or scoop into glass jars for storage. Alternatively, you can re-use old ketchup bottles for your new, homemade ketchup.
Additional Recipe Notes
Most recipes call for starting with tomato paste. If that’s what you have on hand, you can try the above recipe starting with three 8oz cans of tomato paste. Alternatively, you can try the above recipe starting with 48 ounces of tomato sauce.
Note: I have not tried the above recipe using tomato paste or tomato sauce. This is merely a suggestion to help you adjust the recipe to using what you already have on hand.
When we buy ketchup, we always buy the organic version from Costco. Not only is it the best price, but it’s the only kind we’ve found without high fructose corn syrup. They sell 2-packs with each bottle containing 22 ounces for $6.99, making it just 16¢ per ounce.
Here’s the cost of homemade ketchup if you were to buy all the ingredients from the store:
- Tomatoes: $5
- Onion: $0.07
- Garlic: $0.05
- Molasses: $0.43
- Honey: $0.60
- Salt & Pepper: $0.01
- Spices: $0.10
- Mustard: $0.08
Total Cost Homemade Ketchup: $6.34 for 32 ounces, or 20¢ per ounce
There are only two situations in which it would be cost effective to make your own ketchup:
- You cannot find organic ketchup for less than 19¢ per ounce.
- You are able to acquire tomatoes for less than 80¢ per pound (the point at which homemade versus store-bought breaks even).
If you have a garden that is overflowing with tomatoes, or you somehow come across a bushel of tomatoes that your local farmer is looking to off-load, then this recipe is your new best friend. Make double the recipe and can it and you’ll be set on ketchup for quite a long time.
First time making ketchup ever & I luv it! Followed the recipe exactly; with the exception of salt, I added more! I planted my own organic tomatoes (used cherry), so my total cost was like $1.00 !!!!!! I’d like to make tons of this and store. Question, do you have canning instruction for longterm storage? Thanks so much for sharing!
SJ - Team Crumbs
Way to go Loretta! That’s awesome. Yes, we do. Check it out at https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/diy-homemade-canned-diced-tomatoes/.
I like the recipe and plan on making Ketchup this season.
SJ - Team Crumbs
Awesome. Thanks for sharing Rani!
I am so excited to try this!! I receicamr across your website and I keep saving recto try! Do you know about how long it stays good in the refrigerator? Also, have you frozen it before?
Hi Carley! I’ve never frozen this before, and I always use the smell test!
Made a batch of this with our final gleaning of the fall garden– a mix of tomatoes that weren’t entirely ripe, some were blemished, many split from fall rain. It was quite easy (I chunked and cooked, then used an immersion blender on the initial sauce before sieving into a slow cooker) though it did take almost eight hours to cook down by half at the end. The result is excellent! Really flavorful catsup unlike anything I’ve had other than housemade stuff from a few restaurants. Thanks for the recipe, it’s a keeper!
You’re most welcome, Eric! I’m down to the last of my harvest too, and I’m looking forward to using those tomatoes up!
I just finished making my very first ketchup ever! I wanted to avoid sugar, and the molasses and honey were a great alternative for us. What a great taste, just a bit of bite, and knowing what was in it made it a wonderful experience. We garden, and has SO many tomatoes (they are still coming!) An additional batch is likely, and we might try it as a bbq sauce.
So glad to find you!
I’m so glad you enjoyed this Jean!