From Scratch: Homemade Ketchup and Mustard

July 5, 2012

ketchup and mustard
Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest

Hot dogs and hamburgers, ketchup and mustard: it wouldn’t be summer without these pairs. We've all made burgers from scratch and some of us have even taken a stab at stuffing our own sausages, but when it comes to what goes on top of those patties and dogs, most of us reach for a squeezable bottle or two, perhaps not realizing how easy and affordable it is to whip up these condiments at home. We're here to tell you it's a cinch -- and walk you through the making of two flavor-enhancing must-haves, ketchup and mustard.

How to Make Ketchup

  • Ketchup is a simple stewed mixture of tomatoes, aromatics, and spices, and often a pinch of sweetener (brown sugar and honey work wonders).
  • Cook the ketchup base until it’s thick and jammy, and then purée the ketchup in a food processor or blender before straining the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (strain it twice if you’re striving for a perfectly smooth texture).

RecipesReal Ketchup (with canned tomatoes) and Homemade Ketchup (with fresh tomatoes)

Add-ins

  • In addition to the requisite tomatoes, try experimenting with other ripe summer fruits -- peaches, plums, cherries, and blackberries are all excellent complements. 
  • Ketchup also plays well with soft tropical fruits -- mash a banana or mango into your next batch.
  • Stir in a splash of orange juice, orange zest, and crushed fennel seeds for an Italian-inspired version.
  • Blend chipotles in adobo sauce into the mix for a deep red ketchup with plenty of smoke and spice.
  • Add raisins instead of sugar to incorporate another whole food (and more flavor) into the mix.
  • A small amount of xanthan gum can be added to the ketchup to help mimic the viscosity of your favorite bottled variety -- 1/4 teaspoon per cup of prepared ketchup is plenty.

How to Make Mustard

  • Mustard is created by a chemical reaction between crushed mustard seeds and cold water, which releases a pungent enzyme called allyl senevol.
  • If you're on the hunt for a mild mustard, start the process with warm water, as heat limits the reaction. But don't use hot or boiling water, as you'll mute the flavor too severely.
  • The addition of cold vinegar stops and sets the chemical reaction, ensuring that your new condiment will retain its spiciness.
  • Mustard seeds can be white, brown, or black. Generally, the darker the seed, the spicier the mustard -- white seeds are the most mild; black seeds offer the hottest bite. 
  • To make grainy mustard, combine mustard seeds and cold vinegar, let the mustard mellow for a few weeks in the refrigerator, and then break the mixture down slightly in a food processor before sharing.
  • To make silky-smooth Ballpark-style mustard, start with dry mustard powder, water, and vinegar, and then add turmeric to create the customary electric yellow shade.
  • Dijon-style mustard is primarily made with dry mustard powder, wine (white, red, or both), garlic, and honey.

RecipesDijon Mustard and Yellow Kid Mustard

Add-ins

  • Accent mustards with light summer beers or pale ale in place of water.
  • Temper the heat with agave nectar, or amplify it with roasted hot peppers.
  • Slip a few extra seeds into homemade mustards with the addition of fresh figs or raspberries.
  • Ground nuts can add a little bulk (and a mellowing effect) to thinner mustards.
  • Squeeze fresh lime juice in the prepared mustard and add allspice and a grating of nutmeg for a Caribbean-inspired condiment. 

More Recipes

Spicy Wine Mustard
"Opening Day" Horseradish and Sauerkraut Mustard [FOOD52]
Mango Honey Mustard [FOOD52]
Po Campo's Chilpotle Ketchup [FOOD52]
Ketchup from Hell [FOOD52]
Pluot Ketchup [FOOD52]

Thanks to Whole Foods Market Old Town's cooking coach, Michael Kiss, for suggesting this topic and contributing several of the concepts and recipes.

Have you made ketchup and mustard at home? What tips do you have for your fellow cooks? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Like this post? Check out last week's From Scratch topic: Kitchen Conversions.

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