Condiment of the Week – Ketchup

March 3, 2016 at 6:32 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Homemade tomato ketchup

Homemade tomato ketchup

Ketchup, or catsup, is a table sauce. Traditionally, different recipes featured ketchup made of egg white, mushrooms, oysters, mussels, walnuts, or other foods, but in modern times the term without modification usually refers to tomato ketchup, often called tomato sauce in the UK. It is a sweet and tangy sauce, typically made from tomatoes, a sweetener, vinegar, and assorted seasonings and spices. Seasonings vary by recipe, but commonly include onions, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and sometimes celery. Heinz tomato ketchup is the market leader, with an 82% market share in the UK and 60% share in the US.

Tomato ketchup is often used as a condiment with various dishes that are usually served hot, including chips/fries, hamburgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, eggs, and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is sometimes used as a basis or ingredient for other sauces and dressings. Ketchup is also used as a flavoring for things such as potato chips, and this variety of chips is one of the most popular flavors in Canada. This flavor of potato chip has also been offered in the U.S. as recently as September 2014.

 

 

In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap. Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish or shellfish. By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap (pronounced “kay-chap”). That word evolved into the English word “ketchup”. English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies.

 

 

Mushroom ketchup

Homemade mushroom ketchup in a plastic tub

Homemade mushroom ketchup in a plastic tub

In the United Kingdom, preparations of ketchup were historically and originally prepared with mushroom as a primary ingredient, rather than tomato. Ketchup recipes begin to appear in British and then American cookbooks in the 18th century. In a 1742 London cookbook the fish sauce has already taken on a very British flavor, with the addition of shallots and mushroom. The mushrooms soon became a main ingredient, and from 1750 to 1850 the word ketchup began to mean any number of thin dark sauces made of mushrooms or even walnuts. In the United States, mushroom ketchup dates back to at least 1770, and was prepared by British colonists in “English speaking colonies in North America”. In contemporary times, mushroom ketchup is available in the UK, although it is not a commonly used condiment.

 
Tomato Ketchup

Tomato ketchup, accompanied with additional condiments

Tomato ketchup, accompanied with additional condiments

Many variations of ketchup were created, but the tomato-based version did not appear until about a century after other types. By 1801, a recipe for tomato ketchup was created by Sandy Addison and was later printed in an American cookbook, the Sugar House Book.

1 – Get [the tomatoes] quite ripe on a dry day, squeeze them with your hands till reduced to a pulp, then put half a pound of fine salt to one hundred tomatoes, and boil them for two hours.
2 – Stir them to prevent burning.
3 – While hot press them through a fine sieve, with a silver spoon till nought but the skin remains, then add a little mace, 3 nutmegs, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper to taste.
4 – Boil over a slow fire till quite thick, stir all the time.
5 – Bottle when cold.
6 – One hundred tomatoes will make four or five bottles and keep good for two or three years.
This early recipe for “Tomata Catsup” from 1817 still has the anchovies that betray its fish-sauce ancestry:

1 – Gather a gallon of fine, red, and full ripe tomatas; mash them with one pound of salt.
2 – Let them rest for three days, press off the juice, and to each quart add a quarter of a pound of anchovies, two ounces of shallots, and an ounce of ground black pepper.
3 – Boil up together for half an hour, strain through a sieve, and put to it the following spices; a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of allspice and ginger, half an ounce of nutmeg, a drachm of coriander seed, and half a drachm of cochineal.
4 – Pound all together; let them simmer gently for twenty minutes, and strain through a bag: when cold, bottle it, adding to each bottle a wineglass of brandy. It will keep for seven years.
By the mid-1850s, the anchovies had been dropped.

James Mease published another recipe in 1812. In 1824, a ketchup recipe using tomatoes appeared in The Virginia Housewife (an influential 19th-century cookbook written by Mary Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s cousin). American cooks also began to sweeten ketchup in the 19th century.

As the century progressed, tomato ketchup began its ascent in popularity in the United States. Ketchup was popular long before fresh tomatoes were. Many Americans continued to question whether it was safe to eat raw tomatoes. However, they were much less hesitant to eat tomatoes as part of a highly processed product that had been cooked and infused with vinegar and spices.

Tomatoes and tomato ketchup

Tomatoes and tomato ketchup

Tomato ketchup was sold locally by farmers. Jonas Yerkes is credited as the first American to sell tomato ketchup in a bottle. By 1837, he had produced and distributed the condiment nationally. Shortly thereafter, other companies followed suit. F. & J. Heinz launched their tomato ketchup in 1876. Heinz tomato ketchup was advertised: “Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!”, a slogan which alluded to the lengthy and onerous process required to produce tomato ketchup in the home. With industrial ketchup production and a need for better preservation there was a great increase of sugar in ketchup, leading to our modern sweet and sour formula.

The Webster’s Dictionary of 1913 defined ‘catchup’ as: “table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc.

Modern ketchup emerged in the early years of the 20th century, out of a debate over the use of sodium benzoate as a preservative in condiments. Harvey W. Wiley, the “father” of the Food and Drug Administration in the US, challenged the safety of benzoate which was banned in the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. In response, entrepreneurs including Henry J. Heinz, pursued an alternative recipe that eliminated the need for that preservative.

Prior to Heinz (and his fellow innovators), commercial tomato ketchups of that time were watery and thin, in part due to the use of unripe tomatoes, which were low in pectin. They had less vinegar than modern ketchups; by pickling ripe tomatoes, the need for benzoate was eliminated without spoilage or degradation in flavor. But the changes driven by the desire to eliminate benzoate also produced changes that some experts believe were key to the establishment of tomato ketchup as the dominant American condiment.

 

 

Ketchup packets

Ketchup packets

In fast food outlets, ketchup is often dispensed in small packets. Diners tear the side or top and squeeze the ketchup out of the ketchup packets. In 2011, Heinz began offering a new measured-portion package, called the “Dip and Squeeze” packet, which allowed the consumer to either tear the top off the package and squeeze the contents out, as with the traditional packet, or, in the alternative, tear the front off the package and use the package as a dip cup of the type often supplied with certain entreés.

Previously, fast food outlets dispensed ketchup from pumps into paper cups. This method has made a resurgence in the first decade of the 21st century with cost and environmental concerns over the increasing use of individual packets.

In October 2000, Heinz introduced colored ketchup products called EZ Squirt, which eventually included green (2000), purple (2001), pink (2002), orange (2002), teal (2002), and blue (2003). These products were made by adding food coloring to the traditional ketchup. As of January 2006 these products have been discontinued.

 

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1 Comment »

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  1. Hey, thanks for that study. Don’t really know what it means to me because I’m not really into ketchup or catsup . . . or whatever it is, but thanks. An interesting read.


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