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? :)|
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!
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!