What would we do without it? AKA ketchup, it is the sauce that defines how and what many families eat. A possible accompaniment to almost every meal. I know, if my daughter were allowed, she would spoon it straight from the bottle! And she can, because lacto-fermented tomato sauce is a winner in her little tummy.
Many of our simple, common pantry items have come from wise food traditions. Not surprisingly, ketchup was once a fermented sauce. It’s hard to imagine that our store bought, sugar loaded, preservative laced tomato sauce was once a health promoting condiment!
Contemporary Ketchup finds its origins from ‘Ke-tsiap’ a Chinese fermented fish sauce. A brown sauce that was actually completely void of tomato.
Ocean voyage traders took a liking to this self-preserving, strong tasting sauce and sought to replicate it with all sorts of weird and wonderful experimentation and ingredients. The Brits concocted a version using “oysters, mussels, mushrooms, walnuts, lemons, celery and even fruits like plums and peaches. Usually, components were either boiled down into a syrup-like consistency or left to sit with salt for extended periods of time. Both these processes led to a highly concentrated end product: a salty, spicy flavour bomb” read the history here.
It was the Americans who added the missing twist to western ketchup. When Mexican tomato was added to the recipe it was agreed that it was sauce perfection the world over.
In part, the success of this sauce was due to its ability to keep for months on end. As we know; fermentation enables preservation. Oh, until the advent of mass production that is.
Large scale ketchup demands meant that ferments varied. In the search of a consistent marketable red-looking sauce, new, faster, cheaper food technologies replaced the traditional lacto-fermentation craft. In came sugar and preservatives instead. Today, tomato sauce is a worrying mix of ingredients that is a liability to our health rather than a benefit.
So, the humble ketchup has an interesting story. Yes; but we forget that it can be quite simply made at home. It is basically just tomatoes and a few spices. Then if you add some lactic acid from whey, you can preserve the sauce for months.
Give your kids a dose of beneficial bacteria with each meal. Better still, get them involved in sauce making. Make a day of it. My daughter loved every step. The mouli is always a winner. I still clearly remember mouli-ing tomato sauce with my dad as a child. Ours was never fermented though.
Step 1: Tomato Paste
Chop the tomatoes into quarters. Combine the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in a large stock pot on the stove top. Gently simmer on a low heat (without a lid) for up approx. 2 hours. Stir now and then. The juice from the tomatoes will reduce.
Allow to cool enough to handle then run the cooked tomatoes through a sieve or mouli to remove the skin and seeds.
Step 2: Tomato Sauce
Add the spices, maple (or honey), salt and apple cider vinegar then return the tomato sauce to the stove-top, lid off, to reduce and thicken. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes were this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours simmering. Give it a stir and assess whether the tomato paste is the right consistency for your ideal tomato sauce??? If it’s still a bit too thin, leave it simmer a while longer. Reducing the sauce with improve the texture and become jam-like. I like my sauce reduced to a thick paste.
Note: You cannot heat the sauce after you have added whey. This will kill off the lactic acid and prevent fermentation.
Taste test. Does it need more of anything? Let your family sample it too. They are the ketchup experts.
Allow the tomato sauce to completely cool before adding whey. About 3/4 cup of homemade yoghurt or additive free Greek yoghurt will provide enough whey for your lacto-fermented tomato sauce. See the cream cheese post for how to drip yoghurt to get whey.
Stir thoroughly to combine the whey then pour the tomato sauce into sterilised jars. Seal the jars then allow to sit in a warm place but away from direct sunlight for 2 days.
After 2 days, move the jars to the fridge and enjoy homemade tomato sauce for months!
- 3 kg of organic tomatoes (I used Roma)
- 4 cloves of crushed garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt
- ¾ teaspoon of cloves
- ¾ teaspoon of allspice
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup rice malt syrup
- 2-3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup of whey from homemade SCD yoghurt or plain Greek yoghurt
- Chop the tomatoes into quarters
- Combine the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in a large stock pot on the stove top.
- Gently simmer on a low heat (without a lid) for up to 2 hours.
- Stir now and then. The juice from the tomatoes will reduce.
- Allow to cool then run the cooked tomatoes through a sieve or mouli to remove the skin and seeds.
- Add the spices, maple, apple cider vinegar and salt.
- Return to the stove top and simmer, lid off for 30 minutes - 2 hours.
- Note: You cannot heat the sauce after you have added the whey. This will kill off the lactic acid and prevent fermentation.
- Taste test. Does it need more of anything? Let your family sample it too. They are the ketchup experts.
- Allow to cool completely then add the whey and stir well.
- Pour the tomato sauce into sterilised jars and allow to sit in a warm place but away from direct sunlight for 2 days.
- After 2 days move the jars to the fridge and enjoy homemade tomato sauce for months!