Food & Drink

Famous Tomato Ketchup

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Makes: 3 quarts

Betty Virgen of Sacramento was looking for a ketchup recipe that was created by Dr. George K. York, a food technologist at the University of California at Davis.

Although we haven't received York's recipe, Janice Thornton of Merced shares this recipe, from and credited to David Page and Barbara Shinn, from "Recipes from Home" (Artisan, 2001).


2 large onions, sliced about 2/3-inch thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar

10 garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup capers with their brine

¼ cup hot red pepper sauce

1 tablespoon home spice mix (recipe follows)

¾ teaspoon mild paprika

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

¾ teaspoon dried oregano

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon ground cardamom

3 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes

2 (12-ounce) cans tomato paste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/3 cup cumin seeds

1/3 cup coriander seeds

1/3 cup mustard seeds


Preheat the broiler. In a bowl toss the onion slices with the olive oil. Put in a broiler pan and broil them until charred, about eight minutes on each side. Put the onions and the remaining ketchup ingredients in a deep, heavy, nonreactive pot. Simmer uncovered over low heat for about three hours, stirring every 15 minutes to break up the tomatoes and to keep the ketchup from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The mixture will thicken.

Purée the ketchup in batches in a food processor or blender. If the purée seems too thin, return it to the pot and simmer until it is as thick as you like it. This ketchup keeps well refrigerated for up to four weeks.

Home spice mix: Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds and toss occasionally until lightly toasted, about one minute. Transfer to a plate to cool and repeat with the coriander seeds and then the mustard seeds.

Be careful that the spices don't burn. You'll know they're done when a toasty, nutty aroma rises out of the pan. When the seeds are cool, coarsely grind them together in a spice grinder or in a mortar with pestle.

Per ¼ cup: 41 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; trace fat; 0 cholesterol; 86 milligrams sodium; 1 gram fiber; 4 grams sugar; 15 percent calories from fat.