Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ketchup is the food of the Gods.


I think I will write about Ketchup to take my mind off the economy. You can always trust Ketchup. Yes, ketchup is probably one of the most common ingredients on the kitchen tables in the US, in fact over 97% of homes have ketchup in them. Point of fact, despite what you have read, Americans consume FAR more ketchup than salsa. The confusion comes about because Americans SPEND more on salsa than Ketchup. Not hard to figure out when ketchup is 1/2 the price and has 4 times the shelf life of salsa.

Nowadays, most Americans think of ketchup as a tomato based product, but that wasn't always the case. Hundreds of years ago, the Chinese and Malaysians used the brine from pickled fish as dipping sauces. Known as kachiap, the sauce had a savory taste, flavored by the brine spices and fish. Europe in the 1600s, cooks began experimenting with different ingredients—besides anchovies, mushrooms, walnuts, oysters, and even lemons appeared in various ketchup recipes over the next couple of centuries. Throughout the ages, the only ingredient that remained constant was salt.

In the New World, tomatoes were known to be used in ketchup as early as the 1780s, though the first published recipe for tomato ketchup—created by James Mease, a physician and horticulturist from Philadelphia—dates only from about 1812.

It wasn't until the late 1800's when a Pennsylvania food producer took tomatoes, added vinegar, sugar, onion and some secret spices and bottled it did tomato ketchup take hold. Now, pretty much all ketchup in America is made the same way. Sure, the seasonings vary from brand brand, but to Americans, ketchup is a thick tomato based sauce.

Now when it comes to barbecue sauce and ketchup, well some would say that's a marriage made in heaven. Do a Google search for "ketchup and barbecue sauce" and you'll get 1,770,000 hits. Thanks to our friends at Kraft Foods, a thick tomato based sauce, aka Kansas City style, has become the definition of barbecue sauce in the US. Even in Texas, when they do use sauce, ketchup is often the first ingredient.

So, the next time you reach for a bottle of ketchup, remember, this year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of what we know as ketchup. And a tablespoon has only 16 calories - so enjoy!

13 comments:

  1. Love the stuff--must have a few dozen recipes that include ketchup! Thanks for the history on it---had no idea that it started from the brine of pickled fish!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. Thank you. And thank you for meatballs. They are wonderful.

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