Homemade Tomato Ketchup Recipe

Food & Beverage

September 2, 2020

Allow me a moment to share the saga of this ketchup. I had this post and recipe all typed up and ready to go last week and when I hit “publish” it was gone. Disappeared and nowhere to be found. I needed to take a step back from my rage and disbelief and now here I sit to retype and share the story with you.

What to do with an abundance of tomatoes in the garden 24 lbs of heirloom tomatoes for making homemade ketchup Michigan Grown Heirloom Tomatoes Homemade Ketchup from the Ball Canning Book

Blogging and writing takes a lot of time. Not only is it the creation of the recipe or styled shoot, it’s the photo editing and story telling, promotion and sharing that take forever. However this is my creative outlet and in order to keep it as such I just needed to take a step back. So… here we go.

Back in late March when we started to realize that this Covid thing might not be a few week deal I started to expand my garden in my head. I know I have a tendancy to go overboard with ordering vegetable plants so I limited myself to about 10 tomato plants. I searched around for the best canning varieties because we don’t eat a lot of raw or diced tomatoes around here. I like to grow one or two heirloom varieties for marinated tomatoes and other dishes but most every other variety gets put into sauce, jam, salsa etc.

Heirloom Roma Tomatoes Heirloom Tomatoes grown in Michigan

The tomato varieties I grew this year are:
amish paste
super Italian paste
garden peach
caspian pink
purple calabash
Cour Di Bue

The purple calabash and the garden peach tomato where the non sauce (although you can if you want) tomatoes I grew. The garden peach’s are so interesting because the skins have a slight fuzzy texture like an actual peach and they are a stunning yellow/white color.

The tomatoes I used for this ketchup were roma’s and super Italian paste. They make a nice thick sauce and that is exactly what we needed for this recipe. This ketchup is not going to be like your store bought heinz. It has a sweeter flavor and is a bit chunkier but omg is it good. Sunday night Joe and I made loaded tater tots for dinner and dunked it in the homemade ketchup.. It was a classy touch to a junk food meal haha.

Homemade Ketchup from heirloom tomatoes Heirloom Tomatoes

This will keep canned for about a year. If your jars do not seal or if you pop one open it will be good about two weeks in the fridge. This recipe is nice because compared to store bought ketchup it has a relatively low sugar content. My recipe made 11 half pint jars and the recipe calls for 1.5 cups of  sugar total. The amount you make will depend on how thick you like your ketchup. I let mine boil down about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The original recipe says 45 minutes but I thought it was way too watery for my taste.

You are going to need some special equipment for this recipe. You will need a canning pot but any large stock pot will do as long as you can get at least an inch of water boiling over your jars. I have had this kit for a few years and I just treated myself to a second one this season. I like that the lid has a temperature gauge on it that tells you when you start your processing time. The processing time is how long you boil your sealed jars for.

The other equipment you’ll need is a food mill. I received this brand for Christmas a few years ago and it works fantastic for making bbq sauce, applesauce, ketchup and more. This piece here will make it so you do not have to peel your tomatoes (which takes forever).

You will also need cheesecloth or a spice bag to allow your spices to seep into the vinegar.


Here is what you need for this recipe. This is the original recipe for the ball complete book of home preserving. This book will also have the step by step information needed to safely process and can all of your bounty.

3 tbsp celery seeds
4 tsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups of apple cider vinegar
24lbs of tomatoes, quartered
3 cups of chopped onions ( I used sweet onions)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1.5 cups of sugar
1/4 cups of kosher salt or pickling salt (typically comes in a box)

1. Put the celery seeds, cloves and cinnamon sticks in the cheesecloth or spice bag. Bring the apple cider vinegar to a boil and remove from heat. Let your spice bag seep for about 25 minutes.
2. In a separate pot bring your cut tomatoes to a rolling boil. Add in your cayenne pepper and the onions crushing your tomatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher as you go to make room in the pot for everything. After about 20 minutes remove the spices from the vinegar and pour seasoned vinegar into the tomatoes. Boil another 30 minutes stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
3. Working in batches pour the tomatoes through the food mill. I used a big measuring cup to prevent hot tomato from flying all over my kitchen. Once you have all of the skins, seeds and onions removed it will be very watering. Pour the liquid back into the pot add the sugar and salt and boil another 45 minutes – 2 hours.
4. While this is happening start your canning bath and wash and sterilize your jars.
5. Once your ketchup is to the desired consistency ladle into your hot sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Headspace is the room from the tip top of your jar to where the sauce starts. Run a butter knife around the interior of the jar to remove air bubbles. Using a dry, clean towel wipe the rim of your jar. Place lit and rim around the jar and place into the hot water for processing. For this recipe you can use 1/2 pint or pint jars.
6. Once your water is back to a boil or your lid gauge is green process for 15 minutes. Once finished lift the jars and allow to sit in the hot water 5 minutes. Remove and let sit on the counter 24 hours. If a jar does not seal place it in the fridge for two weeks.




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  1. Jen dietcoke enthusiast says:

    How many half pints does this amount of tomatoes typically make?

  2. Gloria says:

    I am in the process of making this recipe and I realize you haven’t included instructions for adding the sugar and salt. I’m taking a guess and adding them as I am cooking down the strained liquid. Well it isn’t really a guess – I just realized that I hadn’t added it yet and figured better late than never!!!! I thought I would let you know so If you wanted to add it to the directions you could.
    Can’t wait to try this!

Abigail Albers       Author

Abby is a wife and mother, antique shopper, entrepreneur, gardener, sheep lady, sequin enthusiast and your Midwest Martha Stewart Wannabe.. Follow her on instagram @adventuresinabbyland.

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