Fermented ketchup

Another week, and still no yogurt. I realized that I don’t have the right equipment to make yogurt, so I made something better — fermented ketchup.

Fermented ketchup, or any fermented condiment at all, was completely new to me until I Googled “easy interest things to ferment.” This recipe met both requirements.

It’s from a book called Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin (which is now #1 on my to-read list). I’ve made homemade ketchup before, sort of. In attempt to preserve my dad’s copious tomato harvest one year, I made jars of a sweet, thick tomato jam. It was okay — I’ve always been more a mustard girl. Why is it that there are dozens of mustards from Dijon to grainy to horseradish available in grocery stores but one ketchup reigns supreme? (Here’s the answer)

I picked this recipe in an attempt to make ketchup more interesting. I imagined a thick, umami-heavy sauce without the sugar. The finished product was more sour than I predicted but will go great with baked sweet potato fries.

This recipe gets bonus points for being easy and making exactly enough to fill one mason jar.

The recipe

Mix three cups of tomato paste with 2 tablespoons salt, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 6 tablespoons of honey and 1/4 of a starter whey (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Pour the mixture into a jar and cover it with cheese cloth or a paper towel. Use anything that will let the bacteria grow and breathe but block out flies or bugs.

Let the covered jar sit for 8 hours and then refrigerate for two days before consuming.

The recipe is is easy enough, but finding a starter whey can be tricky. The whey is essential because is the fermenting agent and holds the bacteria. You could use whey from yogurt, kefir or vegetable brine left over from making sauerkraut or vegetables.

I chose the first method and skimmed the whey off the top of my store-bought yogurt. I don’t think I had exactly 1/4 cup. I think using more would have strengthened the flavor.

Next time, I’ll use leftover vegetable brine and add some spices like paprika or pepper to the sauce.

Now I have three cups of ketchup and no idea how I’m going to use it all.

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