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Not-Your-Mama’s Ketchup

Start This Recipe About 2 days before you want to eat it

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Just in time for summer cookouts and hot dog roasts on the campfire, this week I bring you the Nourishing Traditions version of ketchup. Would it be safe to say that ketchup is probably America’s favorite condiment? The varieties on the store shelves are filled with sugar and corn syrup and what American doesn’t love that?? Sally has a better solution and it is SO tasty. I’m really excited to share it with you.

Did you know that many condiments were originally intended to be digestive aids eaten with a meal? And did you know that ketchup has not always been made from tomatoes? I’ve been learning the most interesting things on my tour through Nourishing Traditions.

This recipe got a thumbs up from everyone at the table. I think the Peanut would have eaten it out of a spoon if we’d let her. Oh wait, maybe we did let her. And the ingredients are all common and easy to find, this is assuming you have some whey in your fridge. Which of course, you do, because you’ve already read my post about how easy it is to make whey.

Ketchup (Nourishing Traditions, page 104)

  • 3 cups canned tomato paste, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce, homemade or purchased

Note that this a large quantity of ketchup! I made a half batch and it’s more than enough for many weeks’ worth of ketchupy goodness.

1. Mix all ingredients until well blended.

I’ve recently started requesting that any canned goods entering our home be BPA free. Sometimes the nasty buggers slip in anyway, but we do our best to keep them out. You’re probably familiar with the use of BPA in plastics, but maybe you don’t know that it’s also used in the linings of aluminum cans? And that the high acidity of tomatoes means that the BPA leaches into your tomatoes in relatively large quantities. I’ve heard that Muir Glen tomatoes are supposed to be BPA free by now. But I’d feel better about that if they’d state that on the can. For this recipe I chose to track down a jarred tomato paste (no BPA needed in glass jars!). I used Bionaturae brand and was really pleased. I found the flavor to be far superior to anything in a can. It was pricier than other brands, but I thought it was worth it.

I did spend an awful long time standing in the aisle trying to figure out how many jars I needed (serving size of 2 tablespoons, 6 servings per jar….I need 3 cups of paste…….umm….4 tablespoons equals 1/4 cup and 4 quarters equals 1 cup…….times twelve, I mean divided by twelve??) It’s no surprise that I calculated wrong. I’ll save you some trouble. If you want three cups of paste, buy 4, 7-ounce jars. I made a half batch and used two jars.

If you don’t know how to easily smash a clove of garlic, here’s how I do it: place the clove under the flat side of your big chopping knife and press down just until you hear it pop. Remove the peel. Replace the clove under your knife and press down again, much harder. You now have crushed your garlic.

If you have a local Asian food store, I recommend getting your fish sauce there. It will be significantly less expensive. And I mean the real deal, run by real Asian people, with produce you can’t identify and labels you can’t read.

2. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. The top of the ketchup should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Leave at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.

Letting your ketchup sit out at room temperature gives all the beneficial bacteria in the whey time to do their fermentation business. It’s the fermentation that transforms this recipe into a digestive aid so don’t cut short your fermentation time!

We served up this very nourishing and delicious condiment, on a food of which Sally would not approve:

I could practically hear Sally clucking her tongue at me and saying, “For shame!”  Now that we’ve found a Better Ketchup, maybe next we can find a Better Hotdog.


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Source: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Course: Fermented and Cultured Food



  • 3 cups canned tomato paste organic
  • 14 cup whey
  • 12 cup maple syrup
  • 14 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and mashed
  • 12 cup fish sauce


  1. Directions on page 104 in Nourishing Traditions

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