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One of the things that I can during tomato season is ketchup.  Why, when you can buy it?  I know, I know, but I like knowing what was put into my ketchup (no corn syrup and all organic, baby!) and I can flavor it the way we like.  Making ketchup requires the water bath method of canning which you can see done on canningUSA or read about at the National Center for Food Preservation.  If this is your first time canning I recommend you read Principles for Home Canning before you start.  If you do not choose to can, you can also freeze ketchup for later use.


This is a smaller batch, as I can things as they become ripe, or as I can get a good deal at the farmer’s market.  Small batches work well for my busy life as I can put together a small batch of a preserve while dinner is cooking, then do the processing after dinner.  It can easily be doubled or tripled for times when you have more ingredients and a nice long canning day.  This ketchup is sweetened with sugar (but not too sweet), though I like to use an organic one for the slight molasses flavor it has.  If you want a fruit juiced sweetened, that will be posted in a couple of days as I make both for my family.  Yum!


Tomato Ketchup – makes 3 to 3 1/2 pints

adapted by Angela Litzinger from NCHFP


12 pounds vine ripened paste tomatos (or 12 cups tomato puree)

1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onions

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper 

1 1/2 cup cider vinegar (be sure a 5% vinegar)

2 teaspoon whole cloves

6 inches of cinnamon stick, broken up

3/4 teaspoon whole allspice

1 1/2 tablespoon celery seeds

3/4 cup sugar (I use organic or dehydrated cane juice)

2 tablespoon canning salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Wash tomatoes.  Dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in ice-cold water. Slip off skins and remove cores, seeds and any bad spots. Put coarsely chopped tomatoes into a stock pot. Add onions and red pepper. Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes, uncovered stirring often so the tomatoes don’t scorch.


Combine spices in a spice bag.  I put the spices into a piece of cheese cloth or muslin and tie it with kitchen twine.  Leave a long end on the string so that you can tie one end to the spoon or handle of the pot (keep it away from the flame or heat of the burner) in order to more easily fish the spice bag out when done.  Add spice bag to vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Cover, turn off heat and steep mixture for 20 minutes. Then, remove spice bag and combine vinegar and tomato mixture.


Boil tomato-vinegar mixture for about 30 minutes. Put boiled mixture through a food mill or sieve. Return to pot. Add sugar and salt, boil gently, and stir frequently until volume is reduced by about one-half.  When done, ketchup mounds up on spoon without any liquid separation.


Fill pint jars with hot ketchup, leaving 1/8-inch headspace.  Put on lids and process for 15 minutes at 0-1,000 ft. altitude, 20 minutes for 1,001 – 6,000 ft altitude, and 25 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 ft. above sea level.