tomato concentrate


[kech-uhp, kach-]

Ketchup (also spelled catsup or catchup), also known as tomato ketchup, tomato sauce, red sauce, Tommy sauce, Tommy K, or dead horse, is a condiment, usually made from tomatoes. The ingredients in a typical modern ketchup are tomato concentrate, spirit vinegar, corn syrup or other sugar, salt, spice and herb extracts (including celery), spice and garlic powder. Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, onion, and other vegetables may be included.

Ketchup started out as a general term for sauce, typically made of mushrooms or fish brine with herbs and spices. Some popular early main ingredients included blueberry, anchovy, oyster, lobster, walnut, kidney bean, cucumber, cranberry, lemon, celery and grape. Mushroom ketchup is still available in some countries, such as the UK, and banana ketchup is popular in the Philippines.

Ketchup is often used with chips (French fries), hamburgers, sandwiches and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup with mayonnaise forms the base of Thousand Island dressing and fry sauce. Ketchup is also typically used as a base for barbecue sauce.



Ketchup-like sauces originated in eastern Asia as a fish sauce, long before anyone outside the Americas had ever seen a tomato. The word "ketchup" comes from the Malay / Indonesian word kichoop or kechap (e.g., kecap manis — Dutch spelling ketjap manis) which itself was derived from the Chinese ke'tsiap (茄汁 Cantonese Jyutping: ke4 zap1); the first part of the word, "ke", in Cantonese Chinese means tomato and the second part, "chup" means sauce or juice; combined it means tomato sauce--in this case ketchup as we know it. English and Dutch sailors brought the Asian styled ketchup to Europe, where many flavorings, such as mushrooms, anchovies and nuts, were added to the basic fish sauce. A recipe in Eliza Smith's The Compleat Housewife, published in 1727, called for anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, sweet spices (cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg), pepper, and lemon peel. Ketchup, as it is eaten today, first appeared in American cookbooks during the early 19th century.

Tomato ketchup

By 1801 a recipe for tomato ketchup was printed in an American cookbook, the Sugar House Book. James Mease published another recipe in 1812. In 1824 a ketchup recipe appeared in The Virginia Housewife, an influential 19th-century cookbook written by Mary Randolph, Thomas Jefferson's cousin.

As the century progressed, tomato ketchup began its ascent in popularity in the United States, influenced by the American enthusiasm for tomatoes. Tomato ketchup was sold locally by farmers. A man named Jonas Yerks (or Yerkes) is believed to have been the first man to make tomato ketchup a national phenomenon. By 1837 he had produced and distributed the condiment nationally. Shortly thereafter, other companies followed suit. F. & J. Heinz launched their tomato ketchup in 1876. Heinz tomato ketchup was advertised: "Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!"

The Webster's Dictionary of 1913 defined "catchup" as a "table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc. [Written also 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 U.S., challenged the safety of benzoate. In response, entrepreneurs, particularly Henry J. Heinz, pursued an alternative recipe that eliminated the need for that preservative.

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 were also less vinegary 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 that some experts (such as Andrew F. Smith) believe were key to the establishment of tomato ketchup as the dominant American condiment.

Until Heinz, most commercial ketchups appealed to two of the basic tastes: bitterness and saltiness. But the switch to ripe tomatoes and more tomato solids added umami, and the major increase in the concentration of vinegar added sourness and pungency to the range of sensations experienced during its consumption. And because the elimination of benzoate was accompanied by a doubling of ketchup's sweetness, a balanced stimulation of all five types of taste sensations resulted.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the use of the word "ketchup" on product labels unless the product conforms to a set of strict guidelines. All products marketed as ketchup in the United States must be thickened only with tomato solids, and the viscosity of the sauce must be within a very narrow range. The nutrient content of the sauce is also tightly regulated.

In the past, ketchup was produced from fresh tomatoes after harvesting. Vacuum evaporation made it possible to turn tomatoes into a very thick tomato paste that is easy to store at room temperature. This enables a factory to produce ketchup throughout the year.

Later innovations

The thixotropic properties of ketchup make it difficult to pour from a glass bottle unless it has previously been shaken vigorously. In the late 1970s, Heinz tackled public perceptions of this annoyance with an advertising campaign that used Carly Simon's hit "Anticipation". The introduction of PET squeeze bottles in the 1980s made it easier to get the ketchup out.

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


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

(per 100 g)
Ketchup Low sodium
USDA commodity
La Victoria
Salsa Brava, Hot
Energy 100 kcal
419 kJ
104 kcal
435 kJ
18 kcal
75 kJ
36 kcal
150 kJ
40 kcal
170 kJ
Water 68.33 g 66.58 g 94.50 g 89.70 g 88.67 g
Protein 1.74 g 1.52 g 0.88 g 1.50 g 1.36 g
Fats 0.49 g 0.36 g 0.20 g 0.20 g 1.11 g
Carbohydrates 25.78 g 27.28g 3.92 g 7.00 g 6.16 g
Sodium 1110 mg 20 mg 5 mg 430 mg 648 mg
Vitamin C 15.1 mg 15.1 mg 12.7 mg 4 mg 7.2 mg
Lycopene 17.0 mg 19.0 mg 2.6 mg n/a n/a

Ketchup has been shown to provide significant health benefits but many argue that these benefits are offset by the food's salt and sugar content. Ketchup has been found to be a beneficial source of lycopene, an antioxidant which may help prevent some forms of cancer. This is particularly true of the organic brands of ketchup. In fact, organic brands were found to contain three times as much lycopene as non-organic brands. Ketchup, much like marinara sauce and other cooked tomato foods, yields higher levels of lycopene per serving because cooking makes lycopene in tomatoes more bio-available.


Ketchup (the tomato variety) is a thixotropic substance, which often results in difficulties of removing it from a glass bottle. Often a glass bottle will appear to be blocked. The "common" method (inverting the bottle and hitting the bottom with the heel of the hand) will cause the ketchup to begin flowing over itself. Because the ketchup is a thixotropic fluid and has a non linear stress strain curve it will flow over itself better than any other surface. So once it begins to flow it will pick up speed, and this is why a whole lot of ketchup comes out at a time. Some people, seeking to avoid this problem, remove the product with the aid of a butter knife thrust into the opening. But this technique is generally slow and inefficient, and can potentially contaminate the ketchup.

There is a better technique that avoids both the thixotropic effect and the need for an inefficient tool. Known widely among caterers, it involves inverting the bottle and forcefully tapping its upper neck with two fingers (index and middle finger together). Specifically, with the Heinz Ketchup product, one taps the 57 circle on the neck. This helps the ketchup flow by applying correct G-forces. Another solution to this problem appeared with the introduction of plastic squeeze bottles. More recently, Heinz and others have introduced an "upside-down" bottle, which further remedies the problem by keeping the remaining ketchup at the mouth of the bottle. These bottles are also fitted with a control valve in the nozzle designed to eliminate the build-up of ketchup in the cap after use.


Early uses in English

The word entered the English language in England during the late seventeenth century, appearing in print as catchup and later as ketchup. The following is a list of early quotations collected by the Oxford English Dictionary.

  • 1690, B. E., A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew
    • Catchup: a high East-India Sauce.
  • 1711, Charles Lockyer, An Account of the Trade in India 128
    • Soy comes in Tubbs from Jappan, and the best Ketchup from Tonquin; yet good of both sorts are made and sold very cheap in China.
  • 1730, Jonathan Swift, A Panegyrick on the Dean Wks. 1755 IV. I. 142
    • And, for our home-bred British cheer, Botargo, catsup, and caveer.
  • 1748, Sarah Harrison, The Housekeeper's Pocket-Book and Compleat Family Cook. i. (ed. 4) 2,
    • I therefore advise you to lay in a Store of Spices, ... neither ought you to be without ... Kitchup, or Mushroom Juice.
  • 1751, Mrs. Hannah Glasse, Cookery Bk. 309
    • It will taste like foreign Catchup.
  • 1817, George Gordon Byron, Beppo viii,
    • Buy in gross ... Ketchup, Soy, Chili~vinegar, and Harvey.
  • 1832, Vegetable Substances Used for the Food of Man 333
    • One ... application of mushrooms is ... converting them into the sauce called Catsup.
  • 1840, Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1849) 91/1
    • Some lamb chops (breaded, with plenty of ketchup).
  • 1845, Eliza Acton, Modern Cookery v. (1850) 136 (L.)
    • Walnut catsup.
  • 1862, Macmillan's Magazine. Oct. 466
    • He found in mothery catsup a number of yellowish globular bodies.
  • 1874, Mordecai C. Cooke, Fungi; Their Nature, Influence and Uses 89
    • One important use to which several ... fungi can be applied, is the manufacture of ketchup.

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

China connection

One popular theory of the word's origin is that it derives from one of two words from the Fujian region of coastal southern China: "kôe-chiap" (in the Xiamen accent) or "kê-chiap" (in the Zhangzhou accent). Both of these words come from the Amoy dialect of China, where it meant the brine of pickled fish or shellfish. Ketchup entered the English language from the Malay word "kichap" or "kechap" (spelled "ketjap" by the Dutch), which came from the Chinese in the first place (see: Penang Hokkien). The Malay word means "taste." And in sometime in the late 17th century, the name and some samples might have arrived in England where it appeared in print as "catchup" in 1690 and then as "ketchup" in 1711. These names stuck with the British, who quickly appropriated them for their own pickled condiments of anchovies or oysters.

The exact Chinese characters used to represent the word kôe-chiap have been disputed, with two primary theories as to the word's original Chinese orthography:

Tomato sauce

The word "ketchup" derives from a Chinese word composed of two characters (茄汁), which means "tomato sauce". The first character (), meaning "eggplant," is also a shortened form of "tomato" ( in Mandarin and Cantonese or in Taiwanese). The second character () means "juice" or "sauce." Pronunciations of this word vary by region, but their similarities to the English "ketchup" can be noticed.

Language Pronunciation (IPA) Other transcriptions
Cantonese khe tsɐp Jyutping ke2 zap1
Taiwanese gjo ʑiap POJ kiô-chiap

Fish sauce

The second theory states that "ketchup" derives from an Amoy word of two characters (鮭汁) meaning "fish sauce". The first character literally means "salmon" but can mean just "fish" in general. The second character is the same as in the above-mentioned theory.

Language Pronunciation (IPA) Other transcriptions
Cantonese kwɐi tsɐp Jyutping gwai1 zap1
Taiwanese kue ʑiap POJ kôe chiap

Merriam-Webster also states that "ketchup" derives from a word meaning "fish sauce", but identifies the source language as Malay.

In politics


  • In 1981, Congress ordered the United States Department of Agriculture to issue new standards for federally financed school lunch programs, which would enable schools to economize; one of the USDA's proposals was to classify ketchup as a vegetable. The suggestion was widely ridiculed and the proposal was dropped.
  • In 2004, presidential challenger John Kerry's ties to H. J. Heinz Company through his wife, Teresa Heinz, led some supporters of George W. Bush to create an alternative called W Ketchup so as not to add to his opponent's campaign coffers, even though Kerry adhered to strict funding rules and separated his wife's personal fortune from any campaign funds.

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