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Homemade ketchup canned (4156502791).jpg
Homemade tomato ketchup
Alternative namesCatsup, tomato sauce, red sauce
Main ingredientsTomatoes, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, vinegar, seasonings
Cookbook:Ketchup  Ketchup
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For other uses, see Ketchup (disambiguation).
Homemade ketchup canned (4156502791).jpg
Homemade tomato ketchup
Alternative namesCatsup, tomato sauce, red sauce
Main ingredientsTomatoes, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, vinegar, seasonings
Cookbook:Ketchup  Ketchup
Tomato ketchup

Ketchup (Listeni/ˈkɛəp/ or Listeni/ˈkɛʌp/), or catsup, is a table sauce. Traditionally, different recipes featured ketchup made of mushrooms, oysters, mussels, walnuts, or other foods,[1][2] but in modern times the term without modification usually refers to tomato ketchup, often called tomato sauce, or, occasionally, red sauce. It is a sweet and tangy sauce, typically made from tomatoes, a sweetener, vinegar, and assorted seasonings and spices. Seasonings vary by recipe, but commonly include onions, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and sometimes celery.[3] Heinz tomato ketchup, which contains 23.7g sugar and 3.1g of salt per 100g, is the market leader, with an 82% market share in the UK.[4]

Tomato ketchup is often used as a condiment with various dishes that are usually served hot, including chips/fries, hamburgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, eggs, and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is sometimes used as a basis or ingredient for other sauces and dressings. Ketchup is also used as a flavoring for things such as crisps/potato chips, and this variety of crisps/chips is one of the most-popular flavors in Canada. This flavor of potato chip was also recently offered[when?] in the U.S.[5]


Pickled fish and spices[edit]

In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁, Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.[6]

By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap (pronounced "kay-chap"). That word evolved into the English word "ketchup".[7] English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies.[1]

Mushroom ketchup[edit]

Homemade mushroom ketchup in a plastic tub

In the United Kingdom, preparations of ketchup were historically and originally prepared with mushroom as a primary ingredient, rather than tomato, and was sometimes referred to specifically as mushroom ketchup.[8][9][10] In the United States, mushroom ketchup dates back to at least 1770, and was prepared by British colonists in "English speaking colonies in North America".[11] In contemporary times, mushroom ketchup is available in the U.K., although it is not a commonly used condiment.[12]

Tomato ketchup[edit]

Tomato ketchup, accompanied with additional condiments

Many variations of ketchup were created, but the tomato-based version did not appear until about a century after other types. By 1801, a recipe for tomato ketchup was created by Sandy Addison and was later printed in an American cookbook, the Sugar House Book.[13]

  1. Get [the tomatoes] quite ripe on a dry day, squeeze them with your hands till reduced to a pulp, then put half a pound of fine salt to one hundred tomatoes, and boil them for two hours.
  2. Stir them to prevent burning.
  3. While hot press them through a fine sieve, with a silver spoon till nought but the skin remains, then add a little mace, 3 nutmegs, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper to taste.
  4. Boil over a slow fire till quite thick, stir all the time.
  5. Bottle when cold.
  6. One hundred tomatoes will make four or five bottles and keep good for two or three years.

James Mease published another recipe in 1812. In 1824, a ketchup recipe using tomatoes appeared in The Virginia Housewife (an influential 19th-century cookbook written by Mary Randolph, Thomas Jefferson's cousin). American cooks also began to sweeten ketchup in the 19th century.[14]

As the century progressed, tomato ketchup began its ascent in popularity in the United States. Ketchup was popular long before fresh tomatoes were.[15] Many Americans[who?] continued to question whether it was safe to eat raw tomatoes. However, they were much less hesitant to eat tomatoes as part of a highly processed product that had been cooked and infused with vinegar and spices.[15]

Tomato ketchup was sold locally by farmers. A man named Jonas Yerks (or Yerkes) is believed[by whom?] to have been the first man to make tomato ketchup a national phenomenon. By 1837, he had produced and distributed the condiment nationally.[16] Shortly thereafter, other companies followed suit. F. & J. Heinz launched their tomato ketchup in 1876.[17] Heinz tomato ketchup was advertised: "Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!", a slogan which alluded to the lengthy and onerous process required to produce tomato ketchup in the home.[18]

The Webster's Dictionary of 1913 defined ‘catchup’ as: “table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc. [Also written as ketchup].”

Modern ketchup emerged in the early years of the 20th century, out of a debate over the use of sodium benzoate as a preservative in condiments. Harvey W. Wiley, the "father" of the Food and Drug Administration in the US, challenged the safety of benzoate which was banned in the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. In response, entrepreneurs including Henry J. Heinz, pursued an alternative recipe that eliminated the need for that preservative.[3]

Prior to Heinz (and his fellow innovators), commercial tomato ketchups of that time were watery and thin, in part due to the use of unripe tomatoes, which were low in pectin. They had less vinegar than modern ketchups; by pickling ripe tomatoes, the need for benzoate was eliminated without spoilage or degradation in flavor. But the changes driven by the desire to eliminate benzoate also produced changes[clarification needed] that some experts (such as Andrew F. Smith[19]) believe were key to the establishment of tomato ketchup as the dominant American condiment.

Later innovations[edit]

Ketchup packets

In fast food outlets, ketchup is often dispensed in small packets. Diners tear the side or top and squeeze the ketchup out of the ketchup packets. In 2011, Heinz began offering a new measured-portion package, called the "Dip and Squeeze" packet, which allowed the consumer to either tear the top off the package and squeeze the contents out, as with the traditional packet, or, in the alternative, tear the front off the package and use the package as a dip cup of the type often supplied with certain entreés.[20]

Previously, fast food outlets dispensed ketchup from pumps into paper cups. This method has made a resurgence in the first decade of the 21st century with cost and environmental concerns increasing the use of individual packets.

In October 2000, Heinz introduced colored ketchup products called EZ Squirt, which eventually included green, purple, pink, orange, teal, and blue.[21] These products were made by adding food coloring to the traditional ketchup. As of January 2006 these products have been discontinued.[22]


The term used for the sauce varies. Ketchup (sometimes spelled catsup in American English, called "a failed attempt at Anglicization"[23]) is the dominant term in American English and Canadian English, with "catsup" being the prominent term in some southern US states.[24] In these dialects, tomato sauce refers to pasta sauce, and is not a synonym for ketchup. Tomato sauce is more common in Commonwealth English (e.g., Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa). In British English, the two terms are interchangeable. Red sauce is used in Welsh English, Scottish English, Irish English and some parts of England, such as the Black Country, and in South London, often contrasting with brown sauce with which it is often served but in Canadian and American English, "red sauce" refers to various tomato-based sauces commonly paired with pasta dishes; and is not a synonym for ketchup.

The etymology of the word ketchup is unclear, with multiple competing theories.[25]

China theory[edit]

One prominent theory is that word came to English via Hong Kong. The Cantonese word for tomato sauce is "kei zap" ( 茄汁 which is a shorterned version of 蕃茄汁).[26] An alternative theory is that the word derives from one of two words from the Fujian region of coastal southern China: "kôe-chiap" (in the Xiamen accent) or "kê-chiap"[27] (in the Zhangzhou accent). Both of these words (鮭汁, kôe-chiap and kê-chiap) come from the Amoy dialect of China, where it meant the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.[6] There are citations of "koe-chiap" in the Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of the Amoy (London; Trudner) from 1873, defined as "brine of pickled fish or shell-fish."

Malay theory[edit]

Ketchup may have[7] entered the English language from the Malay word kicap (pron. "kichap", also spelled kecap, ketjap). Originally meaning "fish sauce", the word itself derives the Chinese terms[28] above.

In Indonesian cuisine, which is similar to Malay, the term kecap refers to fermented savory sauces. Two main types are well known in their cuisine: kecap asin which translates to 'salty kecap' in Indonesian (a salty soy sauce) and kecap manis or literally 'sweet kecap' in Indonesian. Kecap manis is a sweet soy sauce that is a mixture of soy sauce with brown sugar, molasses, garlic, ginger, anise, coriander and a bay leaf reduced over medium heat until rather syrupy. A third type, kecap ikan, meaning "fish kecap" is fish sauce similar to the Thai nam pla or the Philippine patis. It is not, however, soy-based.

European-Arabic theory[edit]

American anthropologist E.N. Anderson relies on Elizabeth David to claim that ketchup is a cognate of the French escaveche, meaning "food in sauce," but gives no further authority.[29] The word also exists in Spanish and Portuguese forms as escabeche, "a sauce for pickling", which culinary historian Karen Hess traced back to Arabic Kabees, or "pickling with vinegar". The term was anglicized to caveach, a word first attested in the late 17th century, at the same time as ketchup.[25]

Early uses in English[edit]

The word entered the English language in Britain during the late 17th century, appearing in print as catchup (1690) and later as ketchup (1711). The following is a list of early quotations collected by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Blue Label Tomato Ketchup advertisement, Curtice Brothers 1898.

The spelling catsup seems to have appeared first from the pen of Jonathan Swift, in 1730.

"Fancy" ketchup[edit]

Some ketchup in the U.S. is labeled "Fancy". This is a USDA grade, relating to specific gravity. Fancy ketchup has a higher tomato solid concentration than other USDA grades.[30]

USDA Ketchup Grades
GradeSpecific GravityTotal Solids
Extra Standard1.1329%


The following table compares the nutritional value of ketchup with raw ripe tomatoes and salsa, based on information from the USDA Food Nutrient Database.[31]

(per 100 g)
KetchupLow sodium
USDA commodity
Energy100 kcal
419 kJ
104 kcal
435 kJ
18 kcal
75 kJ
36 kcal
150 kJ
Water68.33 g66.58 g94.50 g89.70 g
Protein1.74 g1.52 g0.88 g1.50 g
Fats0.49 g0.36 g0.20 g0.20 g
Carbohydrates25.78 g27.28 g3.92 g7.00 g
Sodium1110 mg20 mg5 mg430 mg
Vitamin C15.1 mg15.1 mg12.7 mg4 mg
Lycopene17.0 mg19.0 mg2.6 mgn/a

Ketchup has moderate health benefits.[32] Ketchup is a source of lycopene, an antioxidant which may help prevent some forms of cancer. This is particularly true of the organic brands of ketchup, which have three times as much lycopene.[33] Ketchup, much like marinara sauce and other cooked tomato foods, yields higher levels of lycopene per serving because cooking increases lycopene bioavailability.


Transferring ketchup between plastic bottles.

Tomato ketchup has an additive, usually xanthan gum, which gives the condiment a pseudoplastic or "shear thinning" property. This increases the viscosity of the ketchup considerably with a relatively small amount added - usually 0.5%. - which can make it difficult to pour from a container. However, the shear thinning property of the gum ensures that when a force is applied to the ketchup it will lower the viscosity enabling the sauce to flow. A common method to getting ketchup out of the bottle involves inverting the bottle and shaking it or hitting the bottom with the heel of the hand, which causes the ketchup to flow rapidly. A technique involves inverting the bottle and forcefully tapping its upper neck with two fingers (index and middle finger together). Specifically, with a Heinz ketchup glass bottle, one taps the 57 circle on the neck. This helps the ketchup flow by applying the correct shearing force.[34] These techniques work because of how pseudoplastic fluids behave: their viscosity (resistance to flow) decreases with increasing shear rate. The faster the ketchup is sheared (by shaking or tapping the bottle), the more fluid it becomes. After the shear is removed the ketchup thickens to its original viscosity.

In the news[edit]

Costs, rivalry squeeze tomato out of ketchup In a recent article in Leading Indian News paper "The Times of India", it has come into notice that FMCG majors such as Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Nestle in India are reducing the amount of tomato paste in their ketchups. The quantity of tomato paste in Kissan Fresh Tomato Ketchup made by HUL has gone down from 28% to 22.5%, and in Maggi Rich Tomato Ketchup made by Nestle India from 28.1% to 26.7%. In India's crowded ketchup and sauce market, pegged at Rs 1,000 crore and growing at around 20% year-on-year, Nestle and HUL are wrestling for the lion's share followed by US-based Heinz and other players like Del Monte, Sil, Cremica, Tops and Druk. Tomato paste content in foreign brands like Del Monte (29%) and Heinz (26%) as well as Indian brands like Cremica (34.5%) and Safal (35%) has not come down.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Smith, Andrew F. (1996). Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment, with Recipes. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-57003-139-7. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ketchup: A Saucy History". 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  3. ^ a b "How ketchup is made". Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  4. ^ "Behind the Label: tomato ketchup". The Ecologist. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  5. ^ 2014 "Herr's Products". 
  6. ^ a b In the Chinese Amoy dialect, "kôe-chiap" (Xiamen accented Amoy) or "kê-chiap" (probably Penang Hokkien, which is based on Zhangzhou accented Amoy) (part of the Ming Na language) signifies "brine of pickled fish or shell-fish" (The Oxford English Dictionary, Douglas Chinese Dict. 46/1, 242/1).
  7. ^ a b "Ketchup - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  8. ^ Cooke, Mordecai Cubitt (1891). British Edible Fungi. pp. 201–206. 
  9. ^ Bell, Annie (June 5, 1999). "Condiments to the chef". The Independent. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Branston, Thomas F. (1857). The hand-book of practical receipts of every-day use. Lindsay & Blakiston. pp. 148–149. 
  11. ^ Smith, Andrew F. (1996). Pure Ketchup. Univ of South Carolina Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1570031398. 
  12. ^ The Independent 5 June 1999, Condiments to the Chef
  13. ^ Taken from "The Sugar House Book", 1801.
  14. ^ Elizabeth Rozin (1994). The Primal Cheeseburger. New York: Penguin books. ISBN 978-0-14-017843-2.
  15. ^ a b "Tomato History: From Poison to Obsession". 
  16. ^ Quentin R.Skrabec,H.J. Heinz: a biography - McFarland & Co. - 2009,pg 57
  17. ^ "Heinz - History". H.J. Heinz Company. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Casey, Kathy (2004). Retro Food Fiascos: A Collection of Curious Concoctions. Collectors Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-888054-88-0. 
  19. ^ Andrew F. Smith (2001). The Tomato in America: Early History, Culture, and Cookery. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07009-9. 
  20. ^ Nassauer, Sarah (September 19, 2011). "Old Ketchup Packet Heads for Trash". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "Heinz unveils new blue ketchup". USA Today. Associated Press. April 7, 2003. 
  22. ^ Heinz - Consumer FAQs[dead link]
  23. ^ " Unabridged". Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  24. ^ 2014 "Catsup vs Ketchup". 
  25. ^ a b "The etymological origin of the word ketchup is a matter of confusion." Pure Ketchup, by Andrew F. Smith, ISBN 1-56098-993-9. Page 4.
  26. ^ South China Morning Post article
  27. ^ "Ketchup". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Company
  28. ^ Yang, Kassim (1994). Kamus Minerva. Seremban. 
  29. ^ Eugene N. Anderson. The Food of China. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988; ISBN 0300047398), p. 160.
  30. ^ "Textural Modification of Processing Tomatoes". Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  31. ^ "USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference". USDA. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  32. ^ "Ketchup". BBC. July 27, 2004. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  33. ^ Ishida B, Chapman M (2004). "A comparison of carotenoid content and total antioxidant activity in catsup from several commercial sources in the United States.". J Agric Food Chem 52 (26): 8017–20. doi:10.1021/jf040154o. PMID 15612790. 
  34. ^ "What's the best way to get Heinz® Ketchup out of the iconic glass bottle?". Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2012-11-05. 
  35. ^ Sarkar, John (4 January 2014). "Costs, rivalry squeeze tomato out of ketchup". Times of India (Times of India). Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 

External links[edit]