A beginning canners thoughts on...ketchup?

by Jackie Hollenkamp Bentley
(Louisville, KY, USA)

Canning Ketchup with commercial canned tomatoes and Mrs Wages... yum!

Canning Ketchup with commercial canned tomatoes and Mrs Wages... yum!

I have a dilemma.

My ketchup is too thin.

I'm usually proud of my ketchup because it was one of the first things I canned and it awakened me to a world of possibilities. I know, it's ketchup, right?

About two years ago I had dipped my toe into the world of canning. Sure, I'd seen my mom do it to preserve the garden she had grown on my parents' Indiana property. But I saw it as a necessity so her hard work wouldn't go to waste. But why should I? I can drive the block to our store and pick up whatever I need, without question. It's inspected by the government so it should be okay, right?

“I'm not eating ANYTHING unless it has been approved by the FDA,” A 10-year-old me pronounced during a family discussion at the dinner table, some X-amount of years ago.

Then I had my own children. First Shawn, then Nick, then Annie. Then Shawn started school. Shawn wasn't paying attention like he should. Shawn couldn't focus. Then Nick started school. Nick wasn't paying attention...you get the idea.

A friend of mine suggested eliminating red dye from the boys' diets. I did my research and there are studies and anecdotes of red dye and attention issues. So my husband and I thought we would give it a week and use Shawn as the guinney pig.

Do you know how proliferate red 40 is in our grocery stores!? That was a long shopping trip for me but at the end of that week, Shawn's focus had become sharper. His teacher, who had never heard of the affects of red 40 on children was amazed at the dramatic turnaround in our son.

“That's it. You boys are now allergic to red dye,” I pronounced to my perplexed looking sons, who were only 8 and 6 at the time, bless them. By default, Annie, then 4, would also face a limited ban on the chemical.

That brings me back to ketchup.

Talk about a red-fest! Fortunately, I found a brand that didn't have red 40 so I thought I was safe.
Then reports started coming out about high fructose corn syrup and its link to weight gain. That's not a issue with our children (their parents is a different story, however), but we had started down a path of wondering just what goes into our childrens mouths and what reaction does that have on their bodies.

“We are limiting high fructose corn syrup,” came another pronouncement.

That was going to be hard on the ketchup front. Again, as fortune would have it, a less-expensive, no-high-fructose-corn-syrup brand popped up on the shelves.

At this point, we began label reading. I could feel my eyes glaze over as I attempted reading the ingredients lists of everything I bought.

Then, I re-discovered canning. Mom wasn't growing a garden anymore so she gave me and my sister-in-law, Patti, her canning supplies and jars. I had started a small garden in our backyard and knew that if I wanted to preserve what I didn't eat or give away, I would have to can it.

“What am I going to do with all these tomatoes I'll grow, Mom?” I had asked. She suggested not only canning tomatoes plain, but try spaghetti sauce and ketchup, she said, adding that I could find packets in the grocery store that makes it easy.

I like easy.

As it turned out, that first garden, well, sucked. No tomatoes and I had packets of Mrs. Wages ready to be used.

What's this? I can use canned tomatoes instead of fresh. I'm so on that. I made my first batch of ketchup and got rave reviews. Sure pint for pint, it was about the same as the HFCS-free bottles, but this time I know what's going in my kids bellies and if I can do that with ketchup, what else can I process that is chemical free?

I've since moved on to potatoes, meat, vegetables, soups and other more adventurous food-stuffs but my first love will always be ketchup.

I panicked the other night when I saw I was on my last pint and realized I had to make more. On to the warehouse club I went and bought a honking-big can of crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.


For complete canning instructions go here. Canning Ketchup.


I think this is where my dilemma was born. Normally I exclusively used crushed tomatoes but thought I would try mixing it with tomato sauce.
I let it cook down but I'm not the most patient person in the world (didn't I mention earlier that I will drive a block to go to the store?). I thought it was thick enough so I poured the ketchup into quart and pint jars, wiped the rims, put on cap and ring and processed them in a boiling water bath for about 55 minutes.

Yeah, it didn't work. I checked the jars this morning and it looks really thin.

So I put this question to anyone who has had the fortitude to read all the way through my ramblings: what would you do with three quarts and four pints of runny ketchup?

About Jackie

Visit Jackie here Who am I? Well, now. Let’s see. I’m a writer. I’m a journalist. I’m an editor. Mother, wife, reader, dog owner, gardener, trying-to-live-simpler homemaker. I like to sew. I like to knit. I like to can. Yeah, I have a lot of hobbies.



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Thicken up that ketchup!
by: Anonymous

Simmer it in the crockpot overnight with the lid off. Instant thickness!

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Tomato Paste
by: Donna H.

I highly recommend using tomato paste. I do this often. I can take a big roaster of tomatoes and make ketchup. If I simmer it down, I get about 7 pints. If I add a number ten of paste, I get triple that.
It is not expensive, and extends my own product. I would rather have a large yield than a small one, and this one little thing helps me do that. Try it. I always keep it on the shelf now for those canning days.

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catsup too thin
by: Holliday Smith

I dehydrate tomatoes. Part get ground into tomato powder. Just add powder to thicken thin catsup. :o)

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