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Jul 2, 2009 06:11 PM

Ketchup Season? [moved from Boston board]

I just read 'The Man Who Ate Everything', by J. Steingarten.

The article 'Playing Ketchup' says that during the summer, ketchup is made directly from tomatoes, and from preserved tomato paste the rest of the year. He says ketchup eaters in the know can tell the difference, read labels for manufacturing dates, and stock up on late summer ketchup.

Has anyone heard this before? Does it really matter? If so, where's the good stuff?


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  1. why not do a little research and buy ketchup bottles with winter dates and summer dates. if you can tell the differenence then go out and buy a years worth of ketchup made in august.

    1. Make your own. It's pretty easy. Pureed tomatoes, brown sugar, cinnamon, dry mustard, mace, cloves, cider vinegar, salt.

      2 Replies
      1. re: robertlf

        I've got an old Maine recipe from the writer Kenneth Roberts, taken from an article in which he railed against sweet bottled ketchup as an abomination not fit to besmirch a plate of beans. His was unsweetened, and made from canned tomato juice, either his own or store-bought. Needless to say, it took a bit of cooking down!

        1. re: Will Owen

          Can you post the recipe here? Been looking for it forever and can't find the Kenneth Roberts book.

      2. y grandmother made something she called "chilla sauce"... like the recipe from Robertlf... but pretty sure no dry mustard or mace. She would simmer tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, cinnamon, some kinda sweetener (probably just wite sugar) and vinegar till like a jam. Always considered it a "dump" recipe with no specific measurements.She'd cook it down till it was like a jam... I like to puree al the ingredients. Perfect on a pork roll & cheese on a nice bun.

        Remember a trip to the NJ shore from SE PA... way before any major highways went all the way. We were stuck behind a SLOW dump truck mounded up with tomatoes. All just piled up, "bleeding" out the bottom, and some bouncing out when truck hit bumps. It was most likely headed to Campbell's Soup in Camden... can't even imagine the state of those tomatoes?!?