This low sugar ketchup recipe is a great way to cut down on the amount of 'hidden' sugar that you eat. You’ll still have the tangy fruitiness that tomato ketchup provides, but without the high levels of refined sugar and salt that a shop bought bottle of the red stuff will provide.
What is ketchup?
Ketchup has its origins in China and was originally made from fermented fish. When it first came to the West, it was more of a strong, dark concoction, made from ingredients such as mushrooms, oysters and walnuts. It is rumoured that Jane Austin was a fan of this kind of pungent ketchup. In Great Britain, mushroom ketchup is still available, although it’s not very common. Nowadays ketchup is mostly available as a fruity tomato sauce, with a sweet and sour tang.
Healthy tomato ketchup
This recipe contains much less sugar than you’d get from a leading brand of tomato ketchup. Although honey is still a form of sugar, it is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less to get the same sweetening effect. There's just one tablespoonful of honey in the whole jar. Healthy homemade ketchup is virtually all tomato and onion, whereas most bought ketchup contains nearly a quarter sugar.
This low sugar ketchup recipe is also lower in salt, and of course you can adjust the seasoning to suit your own taste.
Worcestershire sauce, which is used as the seasoning in this recipe, does contain some sugar and salt. But per portion, the amount is tiny.
Rich in lycopene
Tomatoes are a particularly rich source of an important antioxidant called lycopene. Cooked and processed tomatoes are actually a better source of lycopene than raw tomatoes. Lycopene has been shown to be beneficial to heart health, and can even reduce the risk of some types of cancer. (See here for more information about lycopene)
Canned tomatoes. In this recipe I have used canned chopped tomatoes, but you could also use passata if you prefer.
Tomato puree. This adds more of a rich, tomato-y depth of flavour.
Onion adds a lovely sweet and savoury note to the ketchup.
Olive oil. Or you could use another healthy oil if you prefer.
Worcestershire sauce. This adds seasoning, plus a blend of spices. If you don't have, or want to use, Worcestershire sauce, add a generous pinch of allspice, ground cloves, and salt and pepper instead.
Honey and apple cider vinegar. This combination of sweet and sour flavours adds the familiar tang that is part of a classic tomato ketchup. If you'd prefer a vegan low sugar ketchup, then maple syrup will also work well. You could also use white wine vinegar rather than apple cider vinegar if you'd prefer.
You can add some roasted garlic to the ketchup, which will complement the other flavours well. Or if you'd prefer a slight spiciness, add a teaspoonful of curry powder.
How to make low sugar tomato ketchup
This recipe is quick and very easy to make. It's really a simple cooked tomato sauce, with a few other flavours added.
- Start by frying the onion in the olive oil. You want the onions to take on a little colour, as this will add to the flavour.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients, and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Most of the liquid should have boiled away by this time, if it hasn't, allow the mixture to simmer for a little longer.
- Blitz with a hand blender into a smooth ketchup.
This low sugar tomato ketchup recipe will store in a fridge for a week or so. It also freezes very well.
Frequently asked questions
If you look on the side of a standard supermarket bottle of tomato ketchup, you'll see there are orange warnings for the quantity of sugar and salt. So if it's something you consume regularly, then it's certainly not benefitting your health. It's easy to eat more sugar than you think if it's hidden in savoury products such as ketchup. Making homemade ketchup means you know exactly what is in it, and can control the level of sugar and salt.
Sugar and salt are both preservatives, so standard tomato ketchup will last for a few weeks. As this recipe is much lower in sugar and salt, it's best to use it up within a week. However, this low sugar ketchup will freeze well if you want to store it for longer.
Other healthy sauce recipes
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Low Sugar Ketchup recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Worcerstershire sauce
- Heat the oil in a pan on a moderate heat, and fry the onion for 5 minutes until golden and beginning to soften.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes.
- Blitz with a hand blender until smooth.
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.