Home made ketchup

Oddly enough, the first Ketchup didn’t contain any tomatoes. The main reason is that it originated in China from around 300BC (closest tomato was to be found in South & Central America). The sauce was called ‘Ge-Tchup’ and it was made from soy, fermented fish and sea-shells.

British sailors who came to the Far-East in the early 18th century, brought back the ‘Ge-Tchup’ to Europe. Since soy didn’t grow abundantly in the North-European climate, people were looking for substitutes. After much ‘trial & error’ the tomato was chosen as the main ingredient.

The Chinese “Ge-Tchup” came to Indonesia & the Philippines, where it was pronounced ‘Ketjap’, where the Dutch VOC merchants found and brought it back to the Netherlands - where up until today you can purchase it next to its ‘relative’ the Ketchup. Make your own ketchup with this recipe:


  • 3 bell peppers (can be of mixed colors)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 kg ripe tomatoes, cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tsp lemon-salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 0.25 cup lemon juice
  • 0.5 cup honey
  • Salt & black pepper for taste


First of all, we are going to roast the bell peppers - turn on the oven to 200C, place the bell peppers on a baking form (layered with aluminum foil) at the highest level of the oven, for 45-60 minutes. Check every 15 minutes and turn them when the top side is charred, when the peppers are all charred and soft, take them out and put them in a container (sealed with a plastic cover/bag) to cool off. It will be easier to take off the skins afterwards.

Skin the roasted peppers, deseed & cube them. Heat up a big cooking pot, pour the oil and add the peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic, bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to minimum - simmer it for one hour. Check from time to time if it’s not too dry (add a bit of water in case it is).

After one hour, use a hand-held blander, mince everything inside (it should be as uniform as possible, it’s ok to see the tomato seeds), add the oregano, thyme, coriander, smoked paprika powder, lemon-salt and cayenne pepper. Put back one the fire and simmer for another hour. After an hour add the lemon juice and honey, simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until it’s thickened enough, add salt & black pepper for taste and turn off the heat.

Pour the mixture into a sterile, air-tight glass containers (not plastic or metal), turn up side down on the opening (creates a vacuum to seal from air) and keep in a cool and dark place.

For immediate use, I suggest to cool it off for an overnight (8-10 hours), then cool it in the fridge for another 1-2 hours (the low temperature makes the texture thicker and the flavor stronger). In general it can be kept sealed for 6-12 months (depends how hot the climate is), after opening - keep it in the fridge and use it for no more than 2 weeks.

Chī hǎo hē hǎo 吃好,喝 (“Eat well and drink well” in Chinese)

by: Amit Rabin



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