Hot N Smokey

Tate and I limit our eating out because it can break the budget, it’s not always as healthy as we would like, and because I love to cook.  Lunch breaks during the workweek usually involve running the mile and a half home (yes, sometimes literally) to toss together a quick meal or packing food and eating at the clinic.  Very occasionally, usually if we are tight on time and don’t have food in the fridge, we go out for lunch.   Yesterday was one of those days.

His and hers take-out

As Tate wiped the last white bun crumbles from his lips he said “can we have a big salad for dinner?”.  “Um, sure sweetie, do you want a side of fries with that salad?”

I want a side of fries with my homemade ketchup.

Ketchup has been on my list of things to make since I was in college, back in the day when it was challenging to find it without high fructose corn syrup.  I was reminded of my plan recently when I came across a recipe for lacto-fermented ketchup.  Given my affinity for all things fermented and an empty ketchup bottle in the recycling I was game to get my mixing on.

This ketchup is simple and fast to make and I loved that I could flavor it anyway that I wanted and cut down on the sugar.

I made a sweet and spicy garam masala ketchup and a hot and smokey chipotle ketchup.

First the sweet and spicy.

  • 12 ounces of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup whey (strained from plain homemade yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • salt, garam masala, cayenne

Whisk, whisk, whisk.  Taste, adjust spices and/or consistency (with water), and scoop into a jar.

The whey adds the culture from which the fermentation feeds and the apple cider vinegar adds flavor and acid.  By creating an acid environment in a fermented food you protect against “bad” bacteria.

Hot and Smokey Ketchup followed the same steps but went heavier on the cayenne and replaced the garam masala with ground chipotle peppers and smoked paprika.

And now I wait. The jars sit at room temperature for two days to develop the probiotics and then get moved to the refrigerator where the ketchup will keep for several months.

Cooking is like Halloween with me; I always think of the best costumes on November 1st!  When I cook I often am barely finished cleaning the kitchen when I tell myself “next time I make this I am going to [fill in the blank]”.  As I put the spices away I spotted some rosemary sprigs and thought “next time I am going to make rosemary ketchup!”.  Next time…

But for now I am going to dream of baked sweet potato fries dipped in hot and smoky (and probiotic filled :)) ketchup!

It’s time to work-it-out.  You know you’re an exercise junkie when you squeal with delight at finding the workout dvd’s you ordered in the mailbox…

I’ll give you my review of them tomorrow.


  1. I’ve often thought about making my own ketchup…
    Nowadays it’s so easy (lazy me!) to find organic ketchup without HFCS, so I don’t push myself. I would actually LOVE a ketchup made with maple syrup as opposed to sugar though – that’s awesome.
    Sweet potato fries and crispy baked kale are my favorite things to use ketchup on! And anything with garam masala gets my vote, for sure! Mmm.


    • It was so easy, you should definitely give it a try. Ketchup is usually too sweet for me so I didn’t add much maple at all and the garam masala played up the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.

  2. I must start saving glass jars. While I was reading your post I was thinking that I never buy anything in glass jars – but I do. I’ve been tossing them when I should have been recycling them. Now I’ve decided to repurpose them. Thanks for a green idea.

    • I can usually get the labels off by soaking them in a sink of hot soapy water then scrubbing a little with scouring pad. The dishwasher works great too (I don’t have one). Often I make my decision to buy something in a glass jar based on whether it’s a cool shape and if I think the label will come off easily!

  3. Kris

    I love the idea of making ketchup. I’m also going to get some chalkboard paint for the jars I’ve been saving. Great ideas!

  4. papa

    While it has been encouraging to see the big names in catsup aka ketchup producing without high fructose corn syrup, your flavors certainly sound enticing. It is one item I tried for a few garden seasons while you were growing up and abandoned with disappointment in the comparison to the market product, mostly for texture. The photography is great, yeah chalkart!

    • gracefulfitness

      Really good! I made too much though, it doesn’t keep as well as commercial ketchup and after a few months I found they’d gone bad. Make a small batch unless you eat a lot of ketchup!

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