ABC to XYZ in Foods: Ketchup - a classic American condiment

Ketchup is found in 95 percent of American households, with every man, woman and child consuming at least four 14-oz. bottles each year. File photo
Ketchup is found in 95 percent of American households, with every man, woman and child consuming at least four 14-oz. bottles each year. File photo
Bette Banjack
Bette Banjack

KETCHUP – Is also spelled catsup or catchup, depending on the manufacturer of your preferred brand.

It is believed that this tomato-based condiment originated by way of Asia. It is considered the most important condiment in America. It is found in 95 percent of our homes with every man, woman and child consuming at least four 14-ounce bottles each year.

Regulated by law, ketchup has to be made of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, spices, flavorings, onions and salt with garlic being optional. It takes approximately one day to process ketchup from pickling to the bottling.

As wine has good years, so does ketchup. Due to the tomato crop, 1983 was one of the best years. A bottle of ketchup should be discarded after about four months, if it lasts that long. After that time, the ketchup will not hurt you, but will start to lose flavor.


This recipe by Daphine Metaxas Hartung is quite close to the real thing, but made with tomato sauce and not fresh tomatoes.

Homemade Ketchup

• Ό cup sugar

• 1 ½ teaspoon salt

• ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

• ½ teaspoon mustard seeds

• Ό teaspoon celery seeds

• pinch of cayenne pepper

• 3 Ύ cups (30 ounces) canned tomato sauce

• 2 tablespoons mined onions

• 1 clove of garlic, minced

• 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons light corn syrup

• 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

• 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a dry blender or food processor, place the sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, celery seeds and cayenne. Process until the mixture is almost powdered. Put the tomato sauce into a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Pour tomato sauce into a non-aluminum pot. Add the powdered spices. Add to the pot the minced onions and garlic. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sauce is thick enough like spaghetti sauce, remove from the heat and add the corn syrup, vinegar and lemon juice. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. When cool pour into clean ketchup-type bottles and refrigerate. Makes about two 14-ounce bottles.

KUKU NA MICHUZI – Is a wonderful dish from Kenya that translates to chicken and sauce. The secret of this dish is to make it with the least amount of liquid.

My friend, Jayne Musonye, gave this recipe to me. Her family had position enough in Kenya to have domestics and a cook. When she was not to be found, her mother always knew she could be found in the kitchen with the cook. Her mother would always complain, “If you do the cooking, why do we have a cook?” Jayne’s only answer was she loved food and cooking it.

Kuku na Michuzi

• 1 medium whole chicken, cup in pieces

• 2 to 3 tablespoons corn oil

• 1 chopped onion

• 2 medium size tomatoes, chopped

• 1 chopped green pepper

• 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

• dash of cayenne pepper

• salt to taste

• stock/water

In a heavy pot, heat corn oil on a medium heat and add chopped onions. Saute the onions until they are translucent; add the chicken pieces and brown them slightly, making sure all sides are browned. Add all the other ingredients but liquid. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure that the chicken it not sticking to the pot. As you go along, add about ½ cup of liquid to prevent sticking and continue to simmer on low heat. Make sure the chicken does not fall into pieces, which means that you are overcooking the chicken. Serve over white or brown rice.

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