Tasty, vibrant, homemade Tomato ketchup or Tomato sauce bound to have you coming back for more. This tomato ketchup is loaded with fresh ingredients like tomatoes, garlic and ginger making the flavors rich and delicious. It is also low-fat, vegan and gluten-free. Serve tomato ketchup with your favorite side or snacks.
Table of Contents
About This Tomato Ketchup
Before I begin to write about this recipe, let me tell you that the names tomato ketchup and tomato sauce are used interchangeably in India. Whereas tomato sauce is known as a base used to make tomato pasta in the West.
An easy-to-follow homemade DIY tomato ketchup recipe perfect for vegans. I had purchased an Indian tomato ketchup brand that tasted like syrup, was pasty and off.
It made me wonder what had gone wrong in this tomato ketchup? It tasted less of the tomatoes and more like a sugar syrup. That’s when I decided to make a homemade tomato ketchup with fresh ingredients.
The week after I bought 3 kilograms of organic tomatoes and used 2.5 kilograms to make homemade tomato sauce. This yields 1 liter of tomato ketchup.
There was a huge difference between the taste, flavor, and aroma of the homemade tomato ketchup and the shop-bought ketchup. The homemade ketchup sauce is full of tomato goodness, there is no pastiness and no excess sugar.
This vegan tomato sauce recipe has been adapted from my cooking school notes. This is quite a different recipe and includes ginger, garlic, and dry red chilies.
The red chilies give a gentle touch of heat to the sauce. The hotness and smokiness from the red chilies are strong when the sauce is freshly simmered but as the sauce ages and mellows, the hotness and smokiness become very subtle. If you taste the sauce alone you might get the heat but if you have the sauce with a snack or any accompaniment you won’t feel it.
Raisins are added to this sauce for sweetness. As a result, you don’t need to add as much sugar and you get to avoid the overly sweet shop-bought ketchup taste. Use organic unrefined cane sugar or raw sugar for the best taste.
The preservative sodium benzoate is added to the sauce so that it can be stored for a longer period of time. Store the sauce in a sterilized canning jar. The sauce can be kept for about 6 months but it’s so delicious that it will finish before then!
You can serve tomato sauce with varieties of snacks like fritters, patties, cutlets, french fries etc.
You can make the ketchup without the preservative too, but make sure the jar is sterilized properly. You can also halve or reduce the recipe.
How to make Tomato Ketchup
Prepping and Cooking Tomatoes
1. Rinse the tomatoes in water and then drain the water. Use fresh ripe tomatoes.
2. Chop them roughly. Remove the skin and parts which are blemished or spotted.
3. Now in a large casserole, pot or 4 to 5 liter pressure cooker, add the chopped tomatoes.
You can also use Instant pot to cook the ingredients.
4. Then add the following ingredients:
- 3 pieces of about 3-inch chopped ginger
- 15 to 16 medium-sized chopped garlic cloves
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 5 to 7 halved dry red chilies. Remove the seeds from the chilies. Use any mild to medium-hot red chilies.
5. Pour in ½ cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
6. Add 6 to 7 tablespoons of raw sugar. You can also add maple syrup or white sugar.
7. I kept the cooker on low flame. Stir very well and simmer without a lid. In the below photo you see the result after 9 minutes. You don’t need to add any water.
8. Simmer and cook the tomatoes until they are softened. The tomatoes will soften after 25 to 27 minutes. The timing will vary depending on what you use to cook the tomatoes and the intensity of the flame.
9. When the mixture is slightly hot or warm use an immersion blender to make a nice smooth puree. Alternatively, you can make the puree in an electric blender.
TIP: Make sure you puree the mixture very well. If the puree is coarse then it will be difficult to strain the pulp.
10. Strain the puree with a spoon. Do not use a fine strainer as the tomato puree needs to be able to pass through.
11. Important step. You have to really keep on mashing the pulp with the spoon so that all the puree is drained. The pulp mixture should be somewhat dry and not moist. Straining the puree can be a time-consuming task. The bigger the strainer the quicker the process will be.
12. The pan should have all of the smooth, pulp free tomato goodness and is ready to be made into ketchup.
Making Tomato Sauce
13. Now place the pan containing the strained tomato pulp on the stovetop and leave it to simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Check the taste and add more sugar if necessary. You can also add sugar towards the end once the tomato sauce has thickened.
14. Continue to simmer the sauce and stir at intervals.
15. After 20 minutes the sauce should have thickened even more.
16. The tomato sauce should spend at least 40 minutes on the stovetop in total. Continue to stir the sauce from time to time. Feel free to thicken it more if you want. Once you are happy with the consistency leave the sauce to cool. It will become thicker after cooling too.
17. To check if the sauce is done spread the tomato sauce on a plate. There should be no water droplets on the sides. You can see a slight separation happening. This is alright.
But if you want a thick ketchup sauce like the readymade ones, then you have to cook it for longer until the tomato ketchup coats a spoon and remains like that.
Do check the taste of the sauce once the cooking is complete. Add more sugar if needed.
Storing Tomato Sauce
18. Add the tomato ketchup to a sterilized jar (see expert tips below to learn how to sterilize a jar). Make sure you do this before you start making the ketchup.
19. Dissolve ¼ teaspoon of sodium benzoate with 1 teaspoon hot water in a small bowl.
20. Add the sodium benzoate mixture to the hot tomato sauce.
21. Stir and mix very well.
22. Pour the hot tomato sauce in the sterilized jar keeping half to one inch space on top.
Cover tightly and keep it at room temperature till it cools or for a whole day. Then refrigerate it and you can serve the tomato ketchup after 1 or 2 days.
You can serve it with snacks like samosa, pizza, kabab, veg noodles, bread rolls, and veggie burgers.
Expert Tips for Tomato Sauce
- Tomatoes: Use fresh ripe, red tomatoes in this recipe to get the best flavor! Avoid bruised and unripened tomatoes. You can also half, double, or triple the number of tomatoes in this recipe depending on how much quantity you want to make.
- Sterilizing jars: To get the best results make sure you sterilize the canning jar before storing the tomato ketchup. Start by rinsing the canning jar. Then boil water in a large saucepan till it reaches its boiling point. Soak the jar and lid in the hot water then continue to boil the water for 8 to 10 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the canning jar and leave it to drain upside down on a thick towel on a kitchen tabletop. Once the canning jar is completely air-dried the tomato sauce can be stored. Either use canning jars or use heat proof glass jars.
- Preservatives: In order to store this delicious tomato sauce for a long amount of time you will need to add sodium benzoate which is a preservative. The sodium benzoate is added once you have finished preparing the ketchup. To prepare it mix 1 teaspoon of hot water with ¼ teaspoon of sodium benzoate. Allow the sodium benzoate to dissolve then pour it into the hot tomato ketchup and stir.
If you are not comfortable using preservative then make a small batch of the sauce and store in sterilized glass jars. Or you can follow the canning method of boiling and sterilizing in hot water the sealed canning jars with the sauce inside them.
If you do not want to add sodium benzoate then halve the recipe and make a smaller batch instead because it won’t keep for long. However, you must make sure that you use a sterile jar. Do not skip this step.
You can cook some more raisins in water. When the raisins are warm puree them in a mixer-grinder. Then add the raisin puree to the tomato puree. This should get rid of the sourness.
Yes, you can skip the garlic. Use the same proportions of the other ingredients. You can add about ¼ teaspoon of asafoetida (hing) to mimic the garlic flavors but it’s optional.
Yes, you can freeze the sauce. Freezing will ensure that the tomato sauce stays good for a couple of months.
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Tomato Sauce | Tomato Ketchup
- 2.5 kg tomatoes or approx 5.4 lbs tomatoes
- 3 to 4 grams garlic – 15 to 16 medium garlic cloves
- 3 to 4 grams ginger – 3 pieces of about 3 inch ginger
- 5 to 7 dry red chilies – deseeded and halved
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rock salt (edible and food grade)
- 6 to 7 tablespoon organic unrefined cane sugar or regular sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sodium benzoate dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water
- Rinse the tomatoes well in water.
- Slice the top eye parts of the tomatoes. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Discard spotted parts or peels.
- Peel and rinse the garlic, ginger. Later roughly chop them.
- Halve and deseed the dry red chilies.
- Rinse the raisins and keep aside.
- In a huge pot or casserole or a 4 to 5 litre pressure cooker, take all the chopped tomatoes.
- Add the ginger, garlic, red chilies, raisins, vinegar, salt and sugar.
- Mix well and keep the pot or cooker on a low to medium flame on the stove top.
- Keep on stirring at intervals.
- When the tomatoes soften, switch off the fire. The softening takes about 25 to 27 minutes.
- When the mixture is slightly hot or warm, blend the puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. If using a regular blender, then don’t add too hot of the tomato mixture.
- Make a smooth puree.
- With a strainer which is not very fine, strain the puree very well directly into a pot or a large sauce pan.
- Strain very well. Now you can sterilize the jar.
Sterilizing jar for storing tomato sauce
- First rinse the jar. in a large sauce pan heat water till it reaches its boiling point – meaning it has begun to boil.
- Immerse the jar and its lid in the hot water. Continue to boil the water along with jar for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the jar with the help of clean tongs and place the jar inverted on a thick towel kept on the kitchen tabletop. Let the jar dry naturally.
Making tomato sauce
- Keep the pot or pan with the strained tomato pulp on the stove top,
- On a low to medium flame, simmer the pulp till it starts thickening and reaches a ketchup like consistency. Takes about 35 to 40 minutes.
- Heat 1 tsp of water in a small bowl. add ¼ teaspoon of sodium benzoate to the hot water.
- Stir and dissolve the sodium benzoate. The preservative should be dissolved in the water.
- Pour the sodium benzoate solution to the hot tomato ketchup. Mix and stir very well.
- Pour the hot tomato sauce in the sterilized jar. Close tightly with the lid.
- Let the sauce cool and be kept aside for some hours or a day. Then keep it in the refrigerator and use after 1 or 2 days.
- Serve tomato sauce with any snack or appetizer.
- Use tomatoes that are in season and are fresh, ripe and sweet. Don’t use under-ripe or sour tomatoes. The tomatoes have to be juicy, tender and ripe.
- Make sure that the canning jars are sterilized well. Use a good quality glass jar that is heat proof.
- If you don’t want to use sodium benzoate then make a small batch that can stay for a couple of weeks when refrigerated. But make sure to sterilize your glass jars very well before you store the sauce.
- Skip adding garlic if you are not fond of them.
- The recipe can be scaled to make a small batch.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Tomato Ketchup recipe post from the blog archives (first published in January 2014) has been updated and republished on 27 June 2021.