Over the years I’ve noticed that little kids will put ketchup on just about anything.
I’ve seen kids dip broccoli in ketchup, smother their scrambled eggs in it, and eat about half a cup of the stuff using a single french fry. When I had foster kids, I had a real love-hate relationship with ketchup…on the one hand, it was the magic condiment to get a child who was eating outside of his comfort zone to try new things. On the other hand, traditional ketchup is full of corn syrup, additives, and other unhealthy ingredients. Homemade fermented ketchup is a great alternative to store bought sauces, giving you all the taste of traditional ketchup but none of the icky additives. In fact, fermented ketchup is just as healthy as it is tasty! It’s full of probiotics, lycopene, vitamin C and iron. You might even find that your inner child is so happy with healthy ketchup, you’re willing to sample it on something unusual (like carrot sticks…or pickles…or hard boiled eggs…then again, maybe not). For the less adventurous, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a nice plate of crispy oven baked french fries!
There are a lot of ketchup recipes out there…
…many of them are delicious but a little non-traditional. I was looking for a recipe that would taste enough like regular ketchup that it could pass the kid test, but still be healthy. I found it at the Homemade Mommy blog…a recipe that really is good for you, but tastes “normal” enough to not raise eyebrows at the dinner table. This recipe uses just a few ingredients…organic tomato paste (look for paste that comes in a jar rather than a can, to avoid BPA), organic raw honey or evaporated cane juice, garlic, whey or water kefir, organic apple cider vinegar, sea salt and a touch of red pepper if you’d like. The water kefir gets the fermentation going, and the sweetener is just enough to give it a traditional ketchup taste. Once it ferments, it has such a nice balance of sweet and tangy that you’ll find you don’t miss store-bought ketchup at all. It’s almost like eating a little yogurt with your fries, because it’s high in probiotics…but you’ll be getting the benefits of lycopene at the same time, as well as a good dose of vitamin C and iron.
It’s so easy to mix up a batch of homemade ketchup, just toss it all in a bowl and stir it up! Then, spoon it into a jar (use a canning funnel to make this process easier). I like to cover the top of the ketchup with a little whey or kefir, and use a fermentation lid as it helps prevent mold from growing on the top. As in all fermentation, however, a little mold on the top is not a big deal…just scrape it off before you stir your ketchup. If you don’t have a fermentation lid, just cover the top of the jar with a piece of cheese cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
Let the ketchup ferment at room temperature for 3 days, then transfer it to the fridge. Stir in the liquid on the top before using it the first time, and you’re good to go. Delicious ketchup that’s good for you, too! Who knew it could be this easy?
- 3 jars of organic tomato paste (7 ounces each)
- ⅓ cup organic raw honey or organic evaporated cane juice
- 3 Tablespoons organic raw apple cider vinegar
- 6 Tablespoons organic sauerkraut juice, water kefir, or whey (liquid drained from yogurt), plus 2 Tablespoons more for the top
- 2¼ teaspoons sea salt
- pinch of red pepper
- 3 small cloves organic garlic, pressed
- In a bowl, combine the tomato paste, honey or sugar, vinegar, salt, red pepper, garlic, and 6 tablespoons of the sauerkraut juice, kefir or whey. Stir well.
- Spoon the ketchup into a clean jar, smoothing the top. Pour 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut juice, kefir or whey on top of the ketchup. Make sure that the jar above the liquid is clean, and that you have at least an inch of space between the ketchup and the top of the jar.
- If you're using a fermentation lid, just assemble the lid and screw it on the jar. If not, secure some cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar with a rubber band. Allow the jar to sit at room temperature for 3 days.
- Stir the ketchup, incorporating the liquid on top. Put a regular lid on the jar and pop it in your fridge.
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Do you like ketchup? What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen someone put ketchup on?
Photography by Jennifer Leung Johnson