Recipe: How to Make Ketchup

Making ketchup is not a dissimilar process to making chutney – you are basically simmering ingredients up with vinegar and sugar. But I think it something most people don’t think to do as it seems like a product made in a factory, rather than something you can easily make at home. I first make ketchup at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and ever since then I’ve been hooked. I discovered that a staple (often ultra processed) product that we eat all the time was actually super easy to make, lasts absolutely ages and was way more delicious when homemade!

My master recipe is 1KG fruit/vegetables of your choice, 250g apples and 250g onions to 300ml vinegar and 300g sugar. Weigh the fruit and veg once it is prepared. I think adding a few eating apples into any ketchup recipe is pretty essential as it gives that thick, gloopiness to the ketchup. You can change the spices you add to your liking. At Ballymaloe they add all spice berries to the tomato ketchup and it is really delicious.

I’ve made this recipe with tinned or fresh tomatoes (you need to peel them if you are using fresh ones unless you don’t mind bits of skin), rhubarb and a mixture of rosehip and hawthorns. I think it would be brilliant with beetroot too. This recipe is using hedgerow finds that I’ve had in the freezer since the Autumn.

For this recipe You start with 1.5KG hedgerow fruit as you discard some of the seeds and skin of the fruit as you make the puree. If you are using other fruits or vegetables – rhubarb, tomatoes, beetroot – just use 1KG of prepared fruit and you don’t need to make a puree just put everything in the pan together and boil it up.

Hedgerow Ketchup

Makes about 1500ml


1.5KG Hedgerow fruits and berries – Rosehips, Elderberries, Sloes, Rowan Berries, Blackberries, Hawthorn berries etc.
250g eating apples, roughly chopped (weigh after preparation)
250g onions, roughly chopped (weigh after preparation)
300g granulated sugar
300ml cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 Peppercorns
6 Cardamom Pods, husks removed and seeds finely ground

Wash the hedgerow fruit well. Put all the hedgerow fruit in a saucepan with a splash of water and stew over a medium heat until they have burst and started to break down. This will take about 20 minutes. Halfway through I give everything a mash with a potato masher to help it all breakdown to a mush. If your rosehips are large or not very ripe you can cut them in half before you start. Push the mixture through a mesh sieve to remove tough pieces of skin, pith and seeds. Then push through another finer sieve to be sure you have removed any of the irritating rosehip seeds.

You will be left with a deep purple puree.

Weigh the puree into a saucepan (you are aiming for about 1KG) and then add all the other ingredients. Bring to boil and simmer over a medium heat for about one hour, stirring regularly, until it has the consistency of a runny ketchup (it will thicken a bit more as it cools). Allow to cool for 5 mins and then liquidise with a stick blender or in a regular blender. If it’s a bit thin then bring back to the boil and reduce a bit more. Equally, if it gets too thick when cooking, add a bit of extra water.

Pour into sterilised glass bottles or jars and store in a cool place. Refrigerate once opened.


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