Better Than Store Bought Ketchup


I make my own ketchup.

It started when I was on the GAPS diet. I made a GAPS legal fermented ketchup and was thrilled to have a different flavor available on my plate. My (non GAPS eating) husband was less impressed. It wasn’t bad, he said, it just wasn’t anything like ketchup.

Then it was a challenge. Could I make my own healthy ketchup that my husband enjoyed eating?

I didn’t expect it to be so good and so easy that homemade ketchup would become a necessary item in my kitchen. In five minutes I can make a batch of ketchup that lasts the two of us a couple of weeks, tastes just as good as store bought, has no nasty chemicals, and is actively good for you. Plus, it’s a great trump card to pull out if I’m ever feeling threatened by super talented people or obsessively healthy eaters: “Well, yes, we did eat a frozen pizza last week, but that’s not normal for us, you know. Normally I even make my own ketchup!”

This ketchup can be eaten immediately or fermented for a couple of days to make it a good source of probiotics. (It will be noticeably thicker after fermenting, but both consistencies are within normal ketchup range.) I normally make my ketchup with whey (saved from draining yogurt to make Greek yogurt), but it can easily be made dairy free by substituting water for the whey. With the raw apple cider vinegar and salt in the ketchup it still ferments just fine.


If at all possible, don’t substitute any other sweeteners for the honey. In a pinch you could use agave, but only honey will give it that sheen we’re used to in store bought ketchup. (In the store bought ketchup it comes from corn syrup.)

Healthiness Rating: Healthy!

*Cooked tomatoes (as in tomato paste) are a better source of lycopene than raw tomatoes, as it’s more easily digested in the cooked form.

*Honey is classified as a superfood, being antibacterial and containing many enzymes and other nutrients.

*Whey provided probiotics essential for a healthy digestion (even better if it’s from organic yogurt and skips the extra hormones).

*Himalayan pink sea salt contains many minerals, some say containing every mineral our body needs.

*Apple cider vinegar is also antibacterial, high in potassium and seems to help regulate blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar.

Yumminess Rating: Husband approved

Not only does my husband willingly eat this ketchup, he prefers it to store bought ketchup and takes every opportunity to tell people they need to try this amazing homemade ketchup. Everyone who’s tried it has also approved, including his younger brothers and sisters.

Fermented Better Than Store Bought Ketchup

6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup raw honey
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup filtered water
1/4 cup whey*
1 tsp pink sea salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a pint jar. Cap loosely and ferment at room temperature for two days. After two days tighten the cap and transfer to the fridge.

A couple of notes:

Make sure your jar is completely clean before putting food to be fermented in it. A good environment for probiotics to grow is also a good environment for harmful bacteria to grow. I don’t personally go to the extent of sterilizing my jar before use, but if I’m at all unsure about the cleanliness of the jar I thoroughly rinse it in very hot tap water.

Also, make sure your different ferments (such as this ketchup, sourdough, sauerkraut, etc) stay about two feet away from each other while they’re fermenting. Any closer and the strains of bacteria will start to cross over between them, and different ferments work best with different kind of good bacteria.

*Edited 10/14 to add: If you don’t have whey (drained from yogurt or kefir), you can experiment with using other liquid ferments such as kombucha, juice from fermented veggies (careful of strong flavors with this one, unless you’re going for sauerkraut flavored ketchup)  or leave out the whey and add an extra 2 TBSP each of apple cider vinegar and water, or, as mentioned above, use all water in place of the whey. If you find that all water makes the ketchup thinner than you like, just cut back on the amount of water a little bit until it’s a good consistency for you.

5 thoughts on “Better Than Store Bought Ketchup

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  4. I have made this before with a very similar recipe. I used a bit of kombucha in place of whey. However, we did not like the “rawish” tomato taste from the tomato paste. I was thinking of heating the paste with a bit of water, the spices and part of the honey to make it less of the uncooked tomato taste. Then add the kombucha, rest of honey, etc. and ferment. Has anyone tried that?

    • I’ve gotten questions about replacing the whey, so I’m really glad to know that kombucha works!

      I haven’t noticed the ‘raw’ flavor from the tomato paste, so I’ve never tried anything to counteract it. It sounds like your plan should work, though personally (because I’d be using raw honey that I want to keep raw) I’d heat it with the water and spices and add the honey after it cools down a bit. I also ran across once for ‘roasting’ tomato paste before making into sauce, by putting it into a hot pan with just a bit of oil and stirring it (perhaps over a medium or medium high heat?) until the tomato paste turned a richer, darker red and smelled roasted. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the link right now, but something like that might make an interesting variation on the basic ketchup recipe.

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