Proper Tomato Ketchup

Tomato Ketchup, or whatever name you give it in your house (Red Sauce etc.) is a British staple. An obvious best-mate to chips, Ketchup gets used on pies, with eggs, sausages, and pretty much anything else we want it to be with. No decent hotel would dare have breakfast open without it, and no pub would think of not offering it. People even have arguments about how to store it; fridge or cupboard?

Shop bought Tommy Sauce is great, we all eat it, but it’s basically sugar and vinegar, and not that tomatoey really. If you want anything different (chilli, basil, oregano, or maybe even orange) then you have to start buying premium brands. Next is the “what is in this” question. If the manufacturer can remove half the sugar and not change the taste you have to ask yourself what else is lurking in there? A quick read of the back of the bottle doesn’t offer much comfort either.

During lockdown we broke our own “grow you own” rule. We said we wouldn’t grow tomatoes, as we couldn’t deal with the sheer tonnage of green globes all sat about on windowsills and ledges refusing to turn even the faintest shade of red, only to find them on special offer in every supermarket. The jars and jars of green tomato chutney building up was also off-putting. But, with the seed shortage, the garden centre closures and then discovering a fantastic local nursery we relented and got them going. The real shocker was we ended up with literally kilos of bright red fruit, in amazing varieties! Plum, San Morzano, Black Russians, Gardener’s Delight all went mad in the warm weather this year. Even the little orange cherry tom’s that lost their name labels produced.

The next step seemed obvious – make a “Proper” Tomato Ketchup.

Our ketchup has a very small amount of sugar, 200g for 2 kilos of tomatoes, and a similarly small amount of vinegar. So, you get the true taste of the fruit by using its own natural sugars, reducing it down to your desired thickness. And, like most of our recipes you can adapt as you wish, in fact we positively encourage it!


Ingredients – Yields 750ml Ketchup approx.

2kg red tomatoes – any type, need to be ripe or over ripe.

2 red peppers, deseeded and finely chopped

1 x can chopped tomatoes

300ml cider vinegar

200g caster sugar

1 tbsp tomato puree

2 tsp garlic salt

2tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp English mustard powder


This is where you can have some fun, think basil, oregano, chilli or orange zest. Add them at the first cooking / reduction before passing through a sieve.



1. Wash the tomatoes and remove any stalks, trusses or any “bad” bits, then place in a large pot and crush with your hands. You want to really pulp up the tomatoes, and have some fun doing it.

2. Add the canned tomatoes, peppers and vinegar.

3. Cook on a low heat for about 30 mins to break down the skins.

4. Allow to cool blitz or blend. A stick blender is ideal for this part, but not a smoothie maker as they are designed to break up seeds, which will mean you end up with seeds in your final ketchup rather than a nice thick smooth red sauce.

5. Pass through a sieve, you will need to push the mixture through and should end up with a paste of seeds and skin left in the sieve which you can discard.

6. Now add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, the sugar, celery and garlic salt, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and stir in.

7. Place back on a low heat and reduce down stirring occasionally with a spatula to ensure you pull the thicker sauce from the bottom of the pot. This will take approx. 1 hour to 90 mins, depending on how watery your tomatoes are and how thick you like your sauce. You are looking for the sauce to hold its shape when stirred.

8. Allow to cool and then blend until smooth and shiny. A stick blender is good, or a smoothie maker is ideal for this part.

9. Transfer into sterilized bottles or jars and refrigerate.

Just a small note – this ketchup absolutely does need to be kept in the fridge, as there are no preservatives here. It should last a good few months.

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