What’s In That? Ketchup, Catsup

Since it is almost Memorial Day and all I thought I would concentrate on one of the icons of Memorial Day cuisine for the What’s In That feature this week and focus on Catsup-Ketchup.

Most ketchup that you buy in the store has the same basic ingredients.

  • Tomato Concentrate (tomato paste, basically)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (you had to see that comin’)
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Corn Syrup (if it isn’t organic it is likely GMO, remember)
  • Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Natural Flavors

Really, compared to the Sugar Pops you had for breakfast ketchup isn’t too bad. There are really only three ingredients of concern.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Yep. I am going to harangue, wax poetic even, on the evils of HFCS. It isn’t the natural sugar-like substance that the Corn Refiners Assoc wants you to think it is. What is the name of their group? The Corn Refiners Assoc. It is their job to promote refined corn products. Period. The are as concerned for your health as Monsanto is. It is a BUSINESS for goodness sake, of course they are going to ask you to drink their high fructose corn syrup sweetened Koolaide and invite you to blogger conferences and give you cool swag. That’s because the little people making the organic stuff are too busy working their butts off to be able to afford to pay you off.

O.k.. HFCS

First of all if you are eating anything with this stuff in it you are going to have massive trouble losing weight. Princeton University released a  study that showed the rats  with free access to HFCS gained “significantly” more weight than rats with free access to table sugar. Your body does NOT process it the same.

In addition to the weight gain the researchers found over a period of time, ingesting HFCS led to abnormal increase in body fat with the majority of it forming in the abdomen. Triglycerides also rose.

Prof. Bart Hobel, was quoted as saying “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

The rats exhibited the same signs of obesity that humans do, and these are associated with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

These illnesses are rampant in America today…and so is the consumption of HFCS.

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, a 2009 study found that HFCS contains Mercury. Mercury is highly toxic in small amounts…so much so that we have even been warned against eating to much of certain types of fish because of the levels of Mercury. But feel free to feed it to your kids in their breakfast cereal….

Dr. Mark Hyman wrote a great article called 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You. If you are still on the fence, read it.

I know the argument. “It’s too hard/takes too much time/ inconvenient to make food from scratch and not use convenience foods. Well…that’s what this series is all about, isn’t it??

Let’s move on…

Corn Syrup

There really isn’t much I can say about regular corn syrup except that if it isn’t organic it is made with genetically modified corn. Were you aware that Monsanto was ordered by a court in Germany to make public a study that upheld the claims that animals fed the genetically modified (GMO) corn developed extensive health problems that affected blood, kidneys, and liver?

Mon863, Monsanto’s engineered corn product has its DNA changed and manipulated so that it  will produce its own pesticide, a toxin you may be familiar with if you garden, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). It is designed to attack the corn worm’s gut and paralyze the digestive system… the corn worm starves to death over several days.

It has been found that animals fed this corn develop a series of response including:

  • Allergies (note the high rise in corn allergies over the past few years)
  • Cancer
  • Anemia
  • Kidney problems, including lesions
  • Increased blood sugar levels

GMO corn is in nearly every commercial product that you eat that is not organic.

Natural Flavors

So what do you think of when you think of natural flavor? Fresh strawberries? Maybe pungent garlic, with the earth still clinging to it?


The USDA defines Natural Flavor as (emphasis mine):

“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

And… the NOP (National Organic Program) allows these “natural flavors” because they are natural and in small amounts.

Which is why Castoreum, derived from beaver anal glands can be listed as a natural flavoring but artificial vanilla must be called artificial vanilla.

Natural flavorings are scary to me because they don’t have to be listed. I mean, sure, I’d eat something that was derived from blueberry fruit… but  I’d rather not eat a food that  included  beaver, you know? Big difference.

If you are a vegetarian and that salad dressing you love  says “natural flavors” it could have beef extracts in it. There is no way to know. And, because the definition is so open ended there is no way to know exactly what constitutes the natural flavor in your ice cream, candy bar, or favorite pizza sauce.

And there you have it. When you are buying regular ketchup then you also have pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizer residues to deal with, but hey, Monsanto  is slipping those things into their GMO products to make it easier for you to ingest them anyway.

And recently the government has decided to  allow GMO corn to be used in organic feed for your organic steak.

Grass fed only around here, babeeee.

Now, there is an option. You knew there was…and I am gonna give  you the coolest, easiest, fastest, yummiest recipe for  instant ketchup EVER. You can make this, organic and GMO free in about 3 minutes. Just keep it in a tightly covered glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

You won’t go back to the commercial types… unless you like  drinking the Monsanto Koolaide.



Quick Homemade Ketchup Recipe

tangy, sweet, perfect…and you can make it in under 3 minutes

  • 1/3 cup organic tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons organic cider vinegar or balsamic
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of strong honey, like buckwheat
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • half pinch of garlic powder
  • salt as desired
  • a few drops of hot sauce if you want some spice.
  1. Mix all ingredients together and allow to stand for 30 minutes if possible for the flavors to develop.
  2. Adjust liquid to get the texture you like.

Preparation time: 3 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 6 1 tablespoon servings

5 :  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)


Nutrition Information: 

serving size 1 tbs

Calories 21

Fat 0

Carbs 4.8

Fiber 0

Protein 0

images: marye audet (c) 2011

Around the Internet…


  1. marye says

    Now when you leave a comment you can also interact on your facebook page! So I am leaving a comment to test it out. :)

  2. Kathy W. says

    A history sidenote: it is sometimes referred to as “tomato ketchup” because originally ketchup was a fish sauce.

    • marye says

      Thanks Kathy.. I knew there was grape catsup in some old cookbooks I ahve but I didnt think about the fish aspect.

  3. says

    Great post with lots of valuable info. Monsanto is evil and they really need to be stopped… don’t see that happening though. I make homemade ketchup, too. It’s healthier and tastes so much better. I make mine spicy, but next time I’m gonna add in some cinnamon and clove. It sounds yummy!

  4. Janet Dietrich says

    Tks so much for the receipe. I am assuming you adjust the texture by adding water after it stands for 30 min., correct? Hope this doesn’t sound dumb, I just learning not to “eat from the shelf”.

    • marye says

      Janet, you can actually add the water little by little immediately. It won’t thicken on standing. And no, it does not sound like a dumb question!

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