Recipe: The Easiest Ever Low Sugar Ketchup

For various health reasons, neither D nor I have an awful lot of sugar in our diets. We're definitely not super strict about it, but if we're going to eat something sugary, it's got to be really worth it! Something that we both miss, but have deemed to be unworthy, is ketchup!

D is a traditional ketchup eater, meaning that in his mind it's for dipping your chips in and squeezing on a burger. My use of tomato based condiments is a bit different. It would never occur to me to put ketchup on my chips (because mayonnaise is surely the only choice?) but there are three things that are just wrong without it: Scrambled eggs, cheese on toast, and shepherds pie! Strange choices maybe, but I honestly feel like a shepherds pie is wasted without a large dollop of it.

So, I set about making a ketchup that would satisfy the need for a tomato based sauce and was also super quick to make, low in sugar (which traditional ketchup is most definitely not) and cheap.

This could definitely be made with fresh tomatoes, but unless you have a huge glut of them in the summer I feel like it would be a bit of a waste to make them into ketchup when they're so amazing fresh. Plus, this sauce gets used up really quickly in our house so there would be no chance of there being any left by the winter if we treated it as proper preserve, so by using passata rather than fresh tomatoes it can be made all year round.

These quantities make a ketchup we like, but feel free to alter the amounts to suit your own taste. The smoked paprika gives it a slightly barbecued flavour, but you could swap it for normal paprika if you like. You'll need:

500ml of passata
4 teaspoons of maple syrup
4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of worcestershire
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
2 teaspoons of salt

Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer (very gently or it will spit all over the kitchen!) for about 15-20 minutes until it's reduced and nice and thick. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning if you think it needs it, but remember the taste will be slightly more subtle when it's cold.

The recipe makes around 300ml depending on how much you reduce it down by. If you buy a glass bottle of passata you can re-use the bottle to store your ketchup, or it fits quite nicely into two small jars. I had plans to put this batch into the screw top glass bottle in the pictures, but I managed to drop it in the sink while I was washing it up and smash it so it ended up two recycles honey jars instead!

As we use this really quickly, we don't tend to worry about sterilising the jars properly, just pour the ketchup in while it's hot, seal them up then turn them upside down so the hot ketchup covers the whole inside surface. This should be enough to create a vacuum that will keep them fresh for  a little while. You'll notice the safety button on the lid pop in if you're using a jar. If you wanted it to last longer, wash the jars/bottles and their lids in hot soapy water, rinse with hot water then without touching the inside of the jars or lids, place them in a hot oven to dry. Take them out when you're just about ready to bottle the ketchup and let them cool just a little. Pour in the ketchup, seal up and turn them upside down for a few moments.

And there we have it - super simple, super quick and supremely tasty ketchup ready to slather all over your shepherds pie...or dip your chips in if you really insist!

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