A can of tomatoes, a beer and some common household spices is all you need to make this simple beer ketchup recipe!
I had said in my barbecue sauce recipe that I wasn’t about to make ketchup and then make barbecue sauce but I was surprised to see how easy it really was. In fact, I didn’t even need to leave the house to find any of the ingredients required to make this ketchup recipe.
Before I get complaints: this recipe is technically for “Tomato Ketchup”. In my part of the world the tomato part is implied….
Ketchup Recipe Ingredients:
There are lots of ways to play around with this recipe. At its core, ketchup is simply:
- Water…. or in our case beer
Let’s take a look at each of these.
While not true for all areas of the world, using fresh whole tomatoes is cost prohibitive around here. The next best thing is canned tomatoes. Which style you choose is entirely up to you but diced and crushed will be the easiest to work with. If you can, try to get “no salt added” tomatoes so that you can better control the final product. Some canned tomatoes are packed with herbs and spices. Again you may want to avoid those for this recipe due to what will likely be conflicting flavors.
The sugar you choose will affect the final flavor but we are primarily looking to balance out the acidity for that “sweet and sour” taste. Honey is certainly an option if you are wanting to avoid refined sugars. As with my barbecue sauce I would only suggest going with a darker sugar, such as brown sugar, if you are using a lighter beer. A porter plus brown sugar may leave things a bit darker than what you’d expect from ketchup.
Any vinegar is appropriate. I chose balsamic as that’s what I had on hand but red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar would both work nicely. Plain white vinegar is also useful if you are boring.
There are lots of options for spices. The onion and garlic would count under this as well. I chose to use the whole version of both and cook them first but you could use dry powdered onion and garlic. The spices in the recipe below are pretty common place in most ketchup recipes. Other popular options include dried celery, cinnamon and ground cloves. The allspice I used takes place of the latter two. If you want a spicy ketchup you could add cayenne to taste.
Another popular option is to add Worcestershire sauce to taste. It has most of the flavours you are looking for. I have no intention to provide you with a Worcestershire sauce recipe…
For our purposes the added liquid is mainly there so that we can cook the mixture for a reasonable length of time without it drying up. Since we will be substituting beer the hope is that some residual flavor will linger as well. There are some “no cook” recipes that substitute the fresh or canned tomatoes with tomato paste which is rehydrated with enough water to give the proper consistency. I didn’t go that route as I wanted to burn off any alcohol as well as kill off any residual yeast on the off chance they woke up…. Fermented ketchup is a thing but typically with lactobacillus.
In hindsight I think you could double the amount of beer in the recipe and simply simmer for longer. The flavor was very subtle. I was fine with that as I wanted a ketchup with a hint of beer and not a semisolid beer goo.
Choosing a Beer:
You’ll want to use a flavourful beer for this recipe. A light lager will get lost in the other flavours. I would also suggest a style that is not too bitter as it could throw off the sweet/sour balance of the ketchup. Some suggestions would be: Saison, Biere de Garde, Brown Ale and most Belgian styles (Dubbel, Tripel, Golden Strong etc). I went with a Biere de Garde from Pump House Brewery. I’d be very interested to try a Flanders Red or Oud Bruin and cut back on the vinegar a little.
Putting it together
Honestly, if you have the ingredients around I’d double the recipe and make it worth your while. That’s what I will be doing in the future. While the recipe isn’t overly involved, the cooking time is a little long so you may as well not have to do it often. I left the recipe below to be based around one 28 floz can of diced tomatoes as that’s what I made and what is pictured in the photos.