When you look back on traditional recipes you’ll find an incredible amount of fermented food. Every culture seems to have a version of sauerkraut, or kimchi, and even original recipes for cold borscht are served with soured milk, kefir or yogurt. Just a century ago most meals in many parts of the United States had one or more servings of something fermented, olives, pickles, relish, corned beef, sour dough bread – all using nature to preserve the food, supplement the nutritional value, reduce the amount of harmful bacteria, and balance varieties of essential probiotics in your body.
Today fermented food has generally been replaced by processed foods that are flavored to taste fermented, which they really don’t, and gone are the live organisms that enhance the taste and increase the food value. If you ferment food this is old news to you as it is to me, but what I didn’t consider until just recently was how many traditional sauces were originally fermented, including my favorite, Ketchup.
For many years on my ‘healthy’ diet I have almost completely avoided ketchup, filled with corn syrup, processed beyond recognition, and aged to imperfection in a warehouse somewhere.
But what if there were a healthy alternative? What if I could delight again in the tangy, sweet tomato ketchup taste that I so love? What if it tasted better than regular ketchup? Is this possible? Can it be true?
Oh yes, yes it can.
There are many recipes online for fermented ketchup. I’m starting with a lacto-fermented version, and I started simple – using almost no spices. My first batch is just the bare essential ingredients and after a week of sitting on the counter it’s pretty tasty. You’ll find a more comprehensive ingredient list in this version on Nourished Kitchen, but here is my simple starter.
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- 1 1/2 cups organic tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons raw honey
- 1/4 cup whey – extract this from your kefir
- 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Essentially you mix everything together and transfer the contents to a mason jar. Leave a tablespoon or two of the whey to pour on top of the ketchup to create a good environment for fermentation. I left mine on the counter, covered, for about 5 days, stirred it up and did a taste test. It was very good, but still tasted a little tomato pastey, so I topped it with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and let it go another 3 days before moving it to the frig.
I’ll be working up variations on this theme hopefully for a good many years to come, but the basics of Real Ketchup are Real Easy and Real Tasty.