Easy Homemade Ketchup, Lacto-Fermented


Post by guest writer, Shannon of Self.Made.Simple

I have always tried to make tasty home cooked meals for my family but as with many other families there are times when we have all had to rely on less than nourishing items from the middle of the grocery store.

What we always try to remember though is ‘balance’. Let’s face it – in a perfect world we would all eat 100% non processed, non GMO, organic and from cook from scratch. But let’s be real here and admit that it’s not always feasible – whether for reasons of cost, time, resources or just a lack of energy. When we have trouble finding the balance we try not to get down about it and just keep keeping on. Each day is a new day to make good choices and start over.

Balance for us begins when shopping. I try to look at items that cannot be easily made at home and apply the good, better, best rule and pick the lesser of the evils. Many items I try to prepare at home rather than buying pre-packaged and often they taste better.

Some standard staples in our home that we make ourselves include granola bars, cookies, puddings, oatmeal, yogurt, kombucha, salad dressings and ketchup to name a few.

We are met with many strange looks when people hear some of the things we make (and we’re used to it) but people get really weird about their ketchup. I always hear “oh no, I only use Heinz” or “no, don’t mess with my ketchup”. That is some serious brand loyalty. They have certainly cornered the market on this household staple! Many people will not even consider using another brand let alone making their own. But that beloved ketchup is a highly processed product full of high fructose corn syrup, sugar and salt. Yum and yuck all in the same bite.

The good news is that ketchup is an easy make-over even for beginners in the kitchen!

This recipe is not only easy and nourishing but it tastes like a more “grown up” version of the classic that we grew up loving as a dip for french fries, a spread on burgers or a topping on meatloaf.

Before we get to the recipe though….let’s talk about the ‘F’ word. The good ‘F’ word…the one we should all know and embrace….get ready for the big reveal, people – ‘Fermented Foods’.

Why Lacto-Fermented?

Fermenting foods is not a new concept. It has been done for thousands of years to extend shelf life of foods naturally. Fermented foods are beneficial to the digestive system because they pre-digest your food and make nutrients more readily available for absorption. Healthy digestive system = better immunity which, in turn, extends our shelf life.

For more on fermenting I highly recommend reading Sandor Katz’s books Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation or check out this website.

We don’t eat a lot of fermented foods, but we have a few staples and this ketchup recipe is one of them. It is made with natural sweeteners and is lacto-fermented, which means it is full of beneficial enzymes and probiotics which are great for your digestive system. It’s called ‘lacto-fermented’ because we use whey as a starter culture which we always have left over after making and straining our yogurt. Whey is terrific to add to other ferments and also adds nutrients to soups, stocks, cream sauces, and smoothies.

Well enough of my blathering on, let’s get to the good stuff.

Don’t worry – this is a quick 10 mins of prep for a delicious and simple home made swap that will delight your tastebuds and nourish your belly.

The players

  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 3 – 4 tbsp braggs acv or *kombucha (4 will give you a very acidic tasting ketchup so as a first timer go with 3 and alter on the next batch if you want it more vinegary. *If you are anything like me then sometimes your kombucha goes a little too long and ends up as vinegar for your dressings or in your ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup of organic honey
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice (I use my home made blend of equal parts nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and a bit of ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup of whey (plus another 3-4 tbsp set aside)

The directions

Mix paste, vinegar, honey, maple syrup and the 1/2 cup of whey, add in seasonings and mix until smooth. Thin out with a little bit of water until it’s at your desired consistency. I prefer thicker (think of the old heinz glass bottle ketchup that poured so slowly) so I don’t add any water.

Homemade Ketchup Texture

Put mixture into a mason jar and cover with the remaining whey, cover loosely with a lid and let it sit in a dark, cool place (far from any other ferments) for 3-5 days or until bubbly. I like it best at 4 days.

Fermented Ketchup Recipe

Homemade Ketchup Recipe

After the fermenting days you can pour off the whey or stir it in (we stir it in – why waste good bacteria?) and put a lid on it and refrigerate for up to 3 months and enjoy on all your favorites.

When the fermentation process is over and you take off the lid this is what you are going to see. The colour will have changed from the milky white colour to a bubbly looking 'brownish' colour. This is normal so don't go thinking that something has gone bad here.

When the fermentation process is over and you take off the lid this is what you are going to see. The colour will have changed from the milky white colour to a bubbly looking ‘brownish’. This is normal so don’t go thinking that something has gone bad here.

Believe me when I say that 10 years ago I never would have traded my classic ketchup in for one that was homemade and sat in a cupboard for 4 days but today I enjoy the guilt free taste and the feeling of being more mindful and more self sufficient.


Have you ever made your own condiments? Maybe this summer is the time to dive into a new adventure in homemade ketchup!

I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.

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  1. gina says

    Thanks for the awesome ketchup recipe, I am going to try it this summer, , but I am totally drooling over those fries!

  2. says

    Very cool! I’ve made my own ketchup before, what a mess it made in my kitchen. It was not fermented though, so this sounds even better. I’ve also made BBQ sauce which was pretty awesome. I’ve always wanted to make my own mayonnaise, but I think the eggs makes me too scared. Have you tried making mayo?

  3. Mariah says

    Sounds pretty easy and you are right, I always have extra whey around. Did you know that allspice is actually berry itself, not just a combination of other spices. I have a jar of dried, unground allspice berries in my cupboard.

    • says

      We try not to keep too many items that are one hit wonders so the “allspice” blend is a mix of ingredients that we always have on hand. How long do your allspice berries keep for?


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