Have you seen those shirts that say “I Put Ketchup on My Ketchup“? Nothing expresses me more than that shirt. The first time my husband (then boyfriend) saw me put ketchup on my plate with some french fries, I saw him take pause. With quizzical eyes he said, “Got enough ketchup?” I proudly smiled and said, “I love ketchup.”
You see, it had become second nature to me to load all sorts of goodies with my sweet, delicious ketchup. I barely noticed when I would put a hefty squeeze of that tomato goodness on my plate.
Conventional Ketchup’s Secret
Then we became real foodies. I threw what was left of my precious plastic squeeze bottle into the trash, holding a small memorial in my heart. Did you know that ketchup is filled with nasties like:
“INGREDIENTS: TOMATO CONCENTRATE FROM RED RIPE TOMATOES, DISTILLED VINEGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, SALT, SPICE, ONION POWDER, NATURAL FLAVORING.” (source)
And this is one of the better ones! But you might look at this and think, “Well, that isn’t so bad. I’ve seen labels with much worse.” I thought that too, then I did a little digging.
Tomatoes: The tomatoes may be conventionally grown, meaning they were heavily sprayed with certain pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides – which then end up in the bottle. And you have to be careful about the tomatoes, you never know if they will be genetically modified unless you do a little digging into the brand for yourself.
High Fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup: High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener made from corn, and it’s just not good for us to consume. Believe it or not, about 88% of corn in the U.S. is now genetically modified – chances are, the corn syrup in your ketchup contain GMOs. Not to mention the pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides that may have been sprayed on the corn crops.
Natural Flavoring: Here is the wonderful definition that is provided to us by the Code of Federal Regulations on what exactly natural flavoring is:
“…’the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional’ (21CFR101.22).” (source)
Oh okay, Code of Federal Regulations. So “natural flavoring” is supposed to taste…like tomatoes, but not from tomatoes? Why can’t the tomatoes just be the flavoring? For more information on what natural flavoring is, I would highly recommend this article on exactly what artificial flavoring is.
The easiest way to avoid overly-processed ketchup is to make your own at home, and lacto-ferment it to give it a punch of gut-happy probiotics! I have perfected this recipe, so that it will taste as close to the real thing as I can get it. You cannot mess with a deliciously made ketchup…so now I can put homemade ketchup on my homemade ketchup – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Easy Lacto-Fermented Ketchup
14 ounces organic tomato paste (preferably in glass jars like this)
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons organic raw honey
1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (like this)
2 tablespoons + 1/2 tablespoon organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup liquid whey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
dash of organic fish sauce (optional)
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
2. Pour into a mason jar and seal tightly, allow to ferment on the counter for 2 to 5 days.
3. Serve with you favorite ketchup-loving foods! (Store in the refrigerator for several months)