Domesticity Nouveau

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sugar Free Ketchup

When I decided that our home would be sugar-free, I didn’t realize I would be eliminating one of my husband’s morning staples.  He didn’t complain, he just marched on, secretly mourning the loss of his ketchup.  Being the wonderful wife that I am, (after several mugs of dark coffee and an hour or two of quiet in the mornings) I set my mind to giving him back his morning essential.  I LOVE my husband and want him to be happy! (and Sugar free!)

I searched the stores and internet for sugar-free ketchup.  There is now ketchup without high fructose corn syrup (a step in the right direction), but it still has sugar.  I found other versions that had replaced the sugar with artificial sugar alternatives which aren’t great either.  So what’s a loving wife to do?  Make it herself!

In reading the back of every ketchup bottle I could find, “spices” was all that was listed to give me a direction for getting the taste right.  I searched my canning books, cookbooks, and the internet and finally figured it out.

Stevia is the sugar replacement that I work with and I use a Kal brand pure stevia extract powder.  I prefer it because it doesn’t have any bulking ingredients or other funky additives that some of the popular brands have.  Stevia is known to have an unpleasant licorice/fennel/anise-type back note that doesn’t appeal to some people, or some recipes.  The pure powder has less of that back note, but it is still there.  Fortunately, fennel and anise are common spices in ketchup flavoring!  If you don't have pure stevia extract powder, below are some suggestions for what you can use.

Sugar Free Ketchup
Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups

6 oz Tomato paste
14 oz Tomato sauce
1/2 cup White vinegar
1 tsp Celery salt
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Onion powder
1/4 tsp Garlic powder
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Cloves
1/8 tsp Ground mace or nutmeg
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
4 scoops Stevia powder

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and mix together well over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes to blend flavors, stirring once or twice.  Let cool then store in the fridge. 

Questions!  Questions!  Who has Questions?

What kind of tomato sauce do I use?
You want the kind that is found in the market next to the tomato paste (often near the canned veggies).  Check the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar.  The kind I use often has onion and red/green peppers in the mix, but sometimes I find one that doesn't.  Get a sauce that has the fewest ingredients possible and NO SUGAR.  If you can find salt free, even better, but you may need to adjust the salt in the recipe by adding a bit more.  Whatever you do, don’t get pasta sauce!

I don’t have any white vinegar...
You can easily substitute apple cider vinegar.  I have gone with a mix of 50/50 white and apple cider vinegars and the results were just fine.  Red and white wine vinegars will change the flavor from you traditional store bought ketchup you grew up with, but you might enjoy the more sophisticated flavor profile they lend to the ketchup.  White vinegar seemed to be the most common listed on the back of the famous brands.  Work with what you have!

I don’t have Kosher salt, can I use table salt?
Sure!  Just cut the measurement by half as table salt is finer and denser in volume that kosher salt.  Use 1/4 tsp Table salt instead of 1/2 tsp Kosher salt.

That’s a lot of spices, do I need them all?

Can you guess my favorite spice source? :)
Yeppers; if you want the flavor to be familiar.  Once you gather all your spices from the cupboard, it only takes a minute or two to measure them all out.  If you don’t want to invest in buying jars of all the spices (totally worth it, but I understand budgets can be an issue) find a store that has a good bulk spice turn-over so you are getting fresh-like spices.  Nothing beats fresh spices, which is what the recipe is based on.  You may find that you have to add more if your spices are old or of the supermarket variety, because the flavor will be weaker.  Make the recipe as is, and then taste it.  If you think it needs more spice, start by adding 1/2 again what the recipe called for, i.e. add in another 1/4 tsp onion powder or 1/8 tsp allspice.  Let it simmer a little bit longer to blend the flavors and taste again.  Make notes on what you did so you’ll remember next time!

What’s ground mace?
Mace is the funny little gangly covering of nutmeg pods.  It is similar to nutmeg in flavor but gently different.  I’m not a huge nutmeg fan, so I prefer ground mace.  It can sometimes be difficult to find and nutmeg is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

It is a VERY tiny scoop
of stevia extract powder!
I don’t have stevia extract powder, what else can I use?
You can use any sweetener you like to equal 2 1/2 tablespoons of regular sugar.  You can even use regular sugar if you don’t care about sugar-free.  I can’t guarantee how artificial sugars will taste when used in the recipe, since sometimes they have a funny after-taste or react with the acid in the tomatoes/vinegar strangely.  If your diet allows, honey would be a good substitute, but make sure it is mild flavored as it has its own unique flavors; but who knows, you may like it better with a strong flavored honey!  Remember, you can always add, but you can't take away.  Start slowly adding in your sweetener of choice and add more as needed.  If you don’t use the stevia extract powder, you might want to include 1/8 tsp ground fennel powder to the recipe to make up for that missing back note the stevia offers.

I just mix it all together in a pan?
This is a dump and stir recipe, easy pleasy!  I have found the easiest way to get it all incorporated together is with an immersion blender.  Just place that stick blender in the pot and whirl until it is smooth and the spices are completely mixed in.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, I would place the tomato paste in the pan with the vinegar and gently mix until the paste is a bit looser so it will blend in easier with the tomato sauce.  As it cooks, the heat will help the paste to smooth out into the sauce.

I just simmer it and it’s done?
Easy, huh?  Once the sauce starts bubbling and burping, turn the heat to low and put a cover on the pot.  The cover keeps in the moisture so the sauce doesn’t evaporate and become too thick; it also keeps little tomato burps from covering your stove top in red dots.  Heat changes the flavor of spices and melds all the flavors into one tasty pot of love.

How do you store your ketchup?

I store the hubby’s ketchup-love in an old vinegar bottle in the refrigerator.  I grab a funnel and pour it on in.  If you need to use a jar with a wide mouth because you don’t have a funnel or old bottle to use, make sure you always use a clean spoon to scoop it out to prevent contaminates from possibly ruining your efforts.  The vinegar will help the ketchup to keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, if it doesn’t disappear quicker into tummies.  It also freezes quite well!

Speaking of love, what’s up with that as an ingredient?
I firmly believe that the attitude you have when you cook transfers to whatever you are making.  While you are cooking, never forget to think loving thoughts about the people who will be eating your food.  Imagine them enjoying every morsel with satisfaction and feeling how much you care about them.  Stir in thoughts of laughter and family togetherness and see how it changes things at the dinner table!  Of course if you are angry and want someone to have a nasty meal, feel free to stir that in... it is your kitchen and relationships... although I really don’t recommend it!

Up next.... Broiled Pork Chops!


  1. Testimony of the morning ketchup eater. When I hear the phrase "sugar free" my first thoughts are of cardboard, dirt and/or styrofoam. I am always willing to give something a try but first impressions are REALLY important. I grew up eating ketchup with eggs. So as Michelle mentions above it has been a staple in my mornings for decades. Thus it had to be right. The ketchup recipe above very much resembles popular brands of ketchup on the market. So I am sugar-free without any sacrifice to the taste of my morning eggs. :)

  2. Sounds wonderful! Such a nice review too. I've tried no-sugar ketchup in the past but it's always been missing something. I'll give this one a try next. Thanks!

  3. Where did you get your scoop for the stevia? I have NuNaturals pure stevia powder, but no scoop.

  4. Veronica, my little scoop came with the container of Kal Pure Stevia Extract. It is a shame that NuNaturals didn't include one in their container for you. I did find this set on Amazon that has teeny-tiny measurements that would work for stevia:

  5. This is SOO good. I haven't had ketchup since 2009 and just made this and wanted to extend a massive thank-you for this recipe from my grateful taste buds.

  6. Mari, I am so very happy for your tastebuds! Thank you for taking a moment to let me know the recipe works well for you!

  7. Thanks for your blog! i just found it and have already printed a few recipes i will try. always exciting. one thought on ketchup. it was actually a fermented food. there's a recipe in "nourishing traditions" by sally fallon for it (and mustard too!) along with many other great recipes (and interesting info). in case you're interested in trying something really crazy for love!

  8. I just linked to your ketcup recipe on my "Low Carb French Fries" post on my blog. I'm not a ketchup user, but I thought people would LOVE your version!