Is it Ketchup or Catsup?*

This is going to make a lot of ketchup (catsup). I’ve read through some modern do-it-yourself ketchup (catsup) recipes, and they nearly all use an immersion blender and a slow cooker. Grandma Falba had neither of these tools in her kitchen, but she could still make her own catsup (ketchup).

Ketchup (catsup) originated in China in the 17th century where a combination of fish and pickled spices were combined into something called kôe-chiap. Kôe-chiap made its way to what is now Malaysia and Singapore where English explorers sampled it, took it home to England and eventually to the American colonies. Early American recipes contained anchovies, but by the mid-1850s, anchovies were dropped and sweeteners began to be included in ketchup recipes.

This recipe from Grandma Falba’s family is likely from the late 1800s, after the anchovies were nixed and sugar was commonly included.


To 1 gal of strained tomatoes, add a bag of foll:

2 t pepper
1 t cloves
2 t mustard
1/2 C sugar
1 t allspice
2 t cinnamon
1 pt. vinegar
1 1/2 T salt

A dash of red pepper. Cook until thick & seal. (Tomatoes, cooked, stand all nite, then drain, and proceed to strain)

I don’t remember Grandma ever making ketchup (catsup) for us, but by the 1960s it was much easier to buy a bottle at Albertson’s than to make your own. I think it’s wonderful that we’re coming back around and making more food at home ourselves, the old-fashioned way.

*It’s both! Catsup and ketchup are the same condiment, catsup was the earlier spelling. Ketchup is more commonly used in the US.


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