Ketchin’ Up – Spiced Style

tomato ketchup

Tomato ketchup tastes good. I like mine heavily spiced!

In keeping with the idea that anyone can stand to be outside in this punishing humidity, I offer you (readers from the Central Coast of California, parts of the world where it’s currently winter and Northern Europe, I’m guessing) a fun fermented condiment to go with your grilled goods.  Like mustard, I would say that if you’re the type to make your own, why not ferment it?  If you aren’t, then take a read and a gander and come back later for more essential things to ferment.

In case you didn't know.

In case you didn’t know.

My gold-standard ketchup is a homemade version that comes from Sam’s Morning Glory Diner, here is the Bella Vista neighborhood of Philly.  I love Morning Glory.  A few years ago,  I had to have back surgery following a year of therapy that didn’t quite fix me after I got hit by a car (caution: explicit language).  My surgeon was a super-cool and in demand dude, and for my post-surgical check-ups, I  had to go in at 6am.  The first time, I wasn’t crazy about it, but then I realized that I would be able to stop at Morning Glory on the way home for some from-scratch brunch and I was totally good with those groggy mornings.  Morning Glory is tiny, and on weekends, the wait is prohibitively long and the tattooed and efficient staff are harried rather than friendly.  But, as I discovered post-surgery-follow-up, on weekday mornings, you can easily get in with staff asmilin’ and enjoy their famous, three-meal-sized frittatas, pecan waffles, house-made granolas and jams, insane biscuits and so much more.  It’s a diner, for sure, but  love and some seriously good recipes are behind the spot’s long brunch reign.  My number one goal when I go there is generally for my husband or I to order something that will require ketchup.  They serve it in recycled wine bottles, and it’s thin and easily pourable.  It’s also a barrel-full of spiced, tomato goodness that I have yet to replicate successfully.  Nonetheless, I made a version that keeps me satisfied until I can conserve enough in my dietary budget to warrant a trip back to the good old MG.  Today, I’ll share that with you.

A word on fermentation:  I used very active sauerkraut juice as my starter here.  If you choose to use whey or rejuvelac instead, you’ll want to cut the quantity to a quarter cup, max.  Your fermentation time will also be shorter, since the kraut juice isn’t as vigorous of a starter.  If you’re dealing with an overabundance of tomatoes right now, you can sub the sauce for what comes out of a food mill from your fresh tomatoes.  Skins will gum up the works and lead to an thoroughly un-ketchupy texture, so food-milling is a must if you’re using fresh.

Spice, Fermented Ketchup

Basically all of the spices are optional.  I went heavy on the clove, because I like it and the morning glory version is noticeably clovey.  Feel free to use the spices you prefer or the ones you have on hand instead.  THIS IS HEAVILY SPICED.  You’ve been warned.

I didn’t add any salt because my kraut juice contained all the salt I wanted.  If you use a different starter, add a pinch or two of salt.


1 cup tomato paste

1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (or sub ~4 medium, fresh, milled tomatoes)

1-1/2 t mustard powder

1/2 t allspice

1/2 t cayenne (omit if you don’t like heat)

1 t clove

1 cup sauerkraut juice (or 1/4 cup whey or rejuvelac + a pinch or two of salt)

dash of maple syrup (optional)


1.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and pretty thin.

2.  Pour into a jar and seal it.

3.  Let it sit at room temperature for 48 hours. (1 day will do it with whey or rejuvelac starter).

4.  I like to give it another whirl in the food processor to smooth it out even more.  If you want a thinner ketchup, this would be a good time to add more liquid.  Start with a couple tablespoons and go from there.

5.  Refrigerate and consume with abandon (GREAT on eggs!)

squiggly ketchup

Be the hit of the BBQ


  1. says

    I love that this uses sauerkraut juice! I don’t have any sauerkraut bubbling away right now, but I’m bookmarking this recipe for this winter.

    • Amanda says

      Thanks, Andi! I think it adds a little something special. Definitely slower than whey, but still does the trick and adds flavor.


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