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How to Make Ketchup at Home (Canning Recipe)

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Have you ever thought about making your own ketchup? It’s delicious! This recipe can be made with tomatoes OR tropical tamarillo. This recipe for canning ketchup is great either way!

I have lots more food preservation recipes here!

ketchup (recipe for canning) in a white dish with canning jars surrounding it

Tamarillo ketchup recipe for canning

One of the big dilemmas of living in Hawaii is that I’m unable to grow tomatoes in the quantity I’d like. Once upon a time I used to preserve ALL of the tomato products we needed. Not so anymore. 

But I’ve been experimenting with using tamarillos (aka tree tomatoes) in place of tomatoes in some recipes. 

A tamarillo is sweeter and fruitier than a standard tomato but it also has a pungent tang that made me think it could stand in for tomatoes in a ketchup recipe. 

I was not wrong! 

This tomatillo recipe mimics bottled ketchup pretty well, though it’s slightly less sweet. Commercial ketchup is sweetened pretty heavily!

tree tomato fruit in a food mill

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Ready to DIY your pantry with healthier ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.


Pulping the tamarillo

Tamarillos have somewhat hard seeds inside, and those need to be removed before making this ketchup recipe. You’ll also need to remove the bitter skins. 

Cut tamarillo fruit in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, transferring the fruit into a food mill.

Set the food mill on top of a bowl to capture the strained pulp. When the food mill is full, turn the handle repeatedly until the only thing left in the strainer bowl is a thick paste of seeds.

tree tomato pulp and seeds in a food mill

Alternatively, you can use a chinois. To do that, put the tamarillo pulp in a food processor and pulse several times to break it up. Transfer to a chinois and use the wooden tool to press the pulp out into a bowl. 

I’ve done this both ways and feel that I’m able to retrieve more pulp with the food mill. 

Once pulped, you can begin making the ketchup right away, or refrigerate the pulp overnight.

tree tomato juice

Making the tamarillo ketchup

Because you’ll be reducing the fruit pulp to make a thicker product, this recipe can take several hours, start to finish. It’s not hands on time, though. 

Start by measuring the de-seeded pulp into a stock pot along with chopped onion and red pepper. Bring to a boil and let cook at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will take about 30 minutes to reach a boil, depending on your burner and whether or not you’re starting with refrigerated or room temperature pulp.

onions and red pepper in a pot

Use an immersion blender to finely puree that cooked ingredients, then add the vinegar, sugar, and spices. 

Return to a simmer and cook for another 1-1/2 hours or until the ketchup reaches the desired consistency. Be sure to stir often to prevent scorching. You may need to stir more frequently as the sauce thickens.

The foam that rises to the top of the ketchup as it cooks can be skimmed from the pulp to make a nicer looking product. (It’s totally edible, though.)

red foam on a spoon

If you have fresh tomatoes, you can simply substitute tomato pulp for the tamarillos in this recipe. BUT if you do so, you should test the pH of the final product to make sure the acidity level is 4.6 or lower to be safe. (Recommended 4.2 for tropical canners.)

Canning tamarillo ketchup for the pantry

This recipe results in a pH of between 3.0 and 3.5, making it a safe recipe for preserving in a water bath canner. Once processed, the ketchup will be shelf stable. 

While this is a fairly large batch to make ketchup for canning a shelf stable product, you could easily halve the recipe and simply keep the ketchup in the fridge for a month or so.

ketchup (recipe for canning) in a white dish with canning jars surrounding it

This canning method requires that filled and sealed jars are submerged in water and processed in a boiling water water bath. If you’re new to canning, be sure to read more about the process of canning and canning equipment here.

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to safely can this tamarillo ketchup.

red ketchup in a white dish with canning jars surrounding it

Homemade Ketchup

Yield: 8 pints
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Canning Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

This ketchup recipe makes a delicious alternative to the store bought version. It's perfect for topping burgers or dipping fries!

Ingredients

  • 14 cups tamarillo pulp, de-seeded (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
  • 2 teaspoons mustard

Instructions

Note: some of these steps can/will happen simultaneously

Making the ketchup

  1. Measure the de-seeded pulp into a stock pot along with chopped onion and red pepper. Bring to a boil and let cook at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will take about 30 minutes to reach a boil, depending on your burner and whether or not you're starting with refrigerated or room temperature pulp.
  2. Tie the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and bay leaves into a square of cheesecloth.
  3. Use an immersion blender to finely puree the cooked ingredients, then add the vinegar, sugar, and spices. 
  4. Return to a simmer and cook for another 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the ketchup reaches the desired consistency. Be sure to stir often to prevent scorching. You may need to stir more frequently as the sauce thickens.
  5. The foam that rises to the top of the ketchup as it cooks can be skimmed from the pulp to make a nicer looking product.
  6. Remove the cheesecloth bag.

Canning this recipe

  1. Sanitize the canning jars.* Heat water in the canner, beginning about halfway through the cooking time. Submerge empty jars in boiling water for ten minutes. Remove the jars to a clean towel and set upside down until you're ready to fill them. 
  2. Depending on your timing, you can turn off the heat or maintain the water at a boil. The water should be boiling when you place full jars in.
  3. Heat the lids.* Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, drop in lids, and remove from heat.
  4. Transfer the hot ketchup to canning jars using a ladle and a canning funnel, leaving a 1/2" headspace between the top of the ketchup and the jar rim.
  5. Wipe the rims thoroughly with a damp cloth. Residue on the jar rim can impair sealing. 
  6. Set a flat lid on each jar as you fill it and screw on a canning band to fingertip tightness. 
  7. Use a jar lifter to transfer the jars into boiling water in the canner. Return water to a boil and process for 20 minutes.
  8. When time elapses, lift jars from the canner onto a clean towel on a solid surface. Place them where they won't be in a draft or be disturbed for 24 hours. Resist pressing the lids, as you don't want to accidentally push one in and create a false seal. 
  9. Check seals after 24 hours. The lid should be solid; if it flexes, the seal failed. Keep that jar in the fridge and use it first. 
  10. Wash jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place without their canning rings.

Notes

*If the filled jars will be processed for more than 10 minutes, they don't necessarily need to be sanitized. It also won't hurt them to be sanitized and you may wish to err on the side of caution. Whether or not you opt to sanitize the jars, you should always clean the jars with hot soapy water and rinse well before filling them.

*There is a bit of controversy about whether or not it's necessary to heat the jar lids. You can read more here.

This recipe results in a pH of between 3.0 and 3.5, making it a safe recipe for preserving in a water bath canner. Once processed, the ketchup will be shelf stable. 

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She's a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.

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