If it has never occurred to you to make homemade ketchup, having an excess of cranberries on hand around the holiday might inspire you to try your hand at this cranberry ketchup recipe.
Ketchup is very easy to make, and this cranberry version is deeply flavored and very similar in flavor and consistency to Heinz ketchup, even though there’s not a tomato in sight.
If you’re on Whole 30, you may like my Smoky Whole 30 Ketchup recipe.
Is All Ketchup Made with Tomatoes?
It is often written as tomato ketchup on bottles at the store.
Sure, we shorten it to ketchup: “Hey, pass the ketchup,” “Oh poo, I got ketchup on my tie.” See?
The fact remains that the word tomato usually lives before the word ketchup, and that can only mean one of two things:
- Tomato is Ketchup’s first name.
- Tomato is an adjective describing the type of ketchup in the bottle.
Since I think tomato is a pretty silly first name, I’m going with meaning #2.
I decided that if tomato is just a descriptor, there’s no law that says it has to be made from tomatoes. After all, I understand that banana ketchup is pretty popular in the Philippines.
And since I had a bunch of cranberries in the freezer, I decided that cranberry ketchup had to happen.
What Is Ketchup?
Even though we Americans use a ton of ketchup, ketchup is not an American condiment.
Ketchup has its origins in China, and the original ketchup was most likely a kind of fish sauce based on fermented fish. Sort of like the Roman “garum,” which was a precursor of Worcestershire sauce.
The thing that makes ketchup so very delicious is its balance of sweet, savory, and tangy.
And ketchup brings the umami, too.
That glutamate flavor described as savory or meaty. Mouthwatering. Gimme more-y.
Apparently, back in the day, tomato ketchup was a watery, un-umami affair, but when Mr. Heinz learned how to concentrate tomatoes, he also concentrated all that umami goodness in said tomatoes, and all of a sudden, folks just Could Not get enough.
What we need in a good ketchup then, aside from fruit, is some sweet, some umami, some savory, and some tangy components.
Is Cranberry Ketchup Really a Thing?
I must admit that I was feeling Rather Cocky and Pleased With Myself for coming up with cranberry ketchup.
Until I Googled it and found 14,600 entries for “cranberry ketchup” and another 5860 entries for “cranberry catsup,” for a grand total of 20,460 ketchup/catsup references.
That means that, statistically speaking, one out of every 332,357-ish people has gone online and written a Thing about cranberry ketchup. 28 of those statistical folks reside in the great state of North Carolina, and 5 of them live in my area of NC. Statistically speaking. Fine.
So, I think it’s safe to assume that yes, cranberry ketchup really is a thing. In fact, I think you can make ketchup out of pretty much any fruit.
Making Cranberry Ketchup, Round 1
Here’s what I started with. NOTE: These are not the final ingredient amounts. This was just my first test.
- 1 bag o’ cranberries (fruit)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (savory)
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (tangy)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (sweet)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce (my secret umami weapon)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (sweet)
- 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder (sweet)
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (savory)
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (savory)
- a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (more umami)
So, I brought everything up to a boil, let it go for about 10 minutes at a gentle boil, and then hit it with the stick blender.
How did it taste? Bland and sad and not sweet enough but with potential.
Cranberry Ketchup Recipe, Round 2: The Winner
Since I was underwhelmed with the flavor and the sweetness but knew I had a good starting place, I upped the amount of some of the ingredients to add flavor.
And what I came up with is a rich, thick cranberry ketchup that goes just as well with fries as it does a turkey sandwich.
Give it a try. I think you will love it.
What Does Cranberry Ketchup Taste Like?
This stuff is seriously good.
It has a lovely balance, to my taste anyway, of savory/sweet/tangy.
And your house will smell delicious as your ketchup is cooking, too!
What To Use Cranberry Ketchup For
Since it honestly tastes enough like standard tomato ketchup that you can’t tell the difference, you can put it on fries or use it however you would tomato ketchup.
This cranberry ketchup will really shine as a condiment for game, pork and poultry.
Consider making turkey meatballs and using cranberry ketchup as a dipping sauce.
Or roast some venison and use this in the sauce or as a glaze.
Spread it on turkey or chicken sammiches.
Mix it with honey and glaze some pork ribs.
The possibilities are many and mouthwatering.
Will Kids Eat This Ketchup?
Our neighbor’s son who pretty much only eats chicken nuggets and Reese’s cups tried it (his parents didn’t tell him it wasn’t their regular ketchup) on some fries and happily munched away, not realizing this was any different from Heinz!
So yes. The answer is yes.
Kids will eat cranberry ketchup and might not even be able to tell it apart from standard tomato ketchup.
I really do hope you give this a try. It is really, really good.
And I see absolutely no reason why you can’t make any kind of ketchup that you can think up.
It’s not really so much about the fruit you use as it is the balance of flavors to get that mouthwatering umami tang going on.
I really hope you love this cranberry ketchup recipe, you guys!
If you make it, even if you make it with some other kind of fruit or with tomatoes, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
- 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 oz cider vinegar (1/2 cup)
- 4 oz brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste, of course)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- Bring to a boil, cook for ten minutes, then puree with an immersion blender.
- Turn heat to medium low to low, and simmer to reduce the ketchup until it's as thick as you want, maybe an additional 15-30 minutes.
- Stir every few minutes to prevent sticking.
- Once you take it off the heat, you can strain the ketchup to remove all the little bits of cranberry skin and seeds. Or not, if you want it more rustic.
- Cranberries contain a fair amount of pectin, so your ketchup will thicken up even more as it cools.
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Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving Calories 42Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 244mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 0g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
Thanks so much for spending some time with me today.
Take care, and have a lovely day.