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Secret Spices in Heinz Ketchup?


scott123
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And now that I think about it, doesn't the process for making bagels involve lye in some form?

That's pretzels--you can either boil them with some lye in the water or give them a lye wash to give them their shiny, brown, pretzely-tasting crusts.

No wonder my bagels always end up tasting like pretzels! :biggrin:

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  • 5 weeks later...

A followup - I finally got around to making homemade ketchup. I have actually prepared it 3 times since this thread ended, but the third time I began experimenting with spices. Needless to say I was completely wrong about ketchup not being cooked. After testing both uncooked and cooked ketchup, I can say without a doubt, ketchup is cooked.

For this first round of spice testing , I went with three spices. They were allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. I mixed a small amount of each with about a teaspoon of ketchup, each in a separate custard cup. I also had a custard cup with heinz ketchup, as well as a cup without my homemade version completely unspiced. I learned some interesting things from the experiment.

First of all, everyone's recommendation regarding allspice is right on the money. Between smelling allspice, smelling/tasting the Heinz, as well as my allspiced ketchup and control, I can say with no uncertainty that allspice is in Heinz ketchup.

Cinnamon and nutmeg were a little harder to detect. My tastebuds were not as certain as with the allspice.

I did notice one interesting phenomenon. Completely unspiced ketchup is no where near as close to Heinz as the ketchup with just a little bit of any of these three spices. Not even close. A transformation seems to occur the moment you add just the smallest amount of spice to homemade ketchup.

I eventually used all three, using them in a ratio of 2 parts allspice to 1 part cinnamon to 1 part nutmeg.

Although I was ecstatic to see spice's effect on homemade ketchup, I do feel like I have a little more experimentation to match the real deal. My recipe makes great ketchup but it it's still a ways from replicating Heinz.

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Scott... I thank you for this effort. Your quest reminds me of some of my more insane endeavours. One cold winter day, I obsessively sought the ingredients to make Worchestershire. (It worked, BTW. I used Emeril's recipe.)

I have always thought that I found allspice in Heinz ketchup. I knew that ketchup was Indian in origin. I will have to research more on the origins, how it got to the US and how Heinz ended up "perfecting" it for mass consumption.

Just to put away some of the shock and awe about the use of hydrochloric acid or lye (sodium hydroxide) to adjust pH that was mentioned upthread... The combination produces common salt and water. HCl is what is in your stomach. So, don't worry about it. (although, ingesting either, neat, is certainly NOT recommended)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Scott... I thank you for this effort. Your quest reminds me of some of my more insane endeavours. One cold winter day, I obsessively sought the ingredients to make Worchestershire. (It worked, BTW. I used Emeril's recipe.)

I have always thought that I found allspice in Heinz ketchup. I knew that ketchup was Indian in origin. I will have to research more on the origins, how it got to the US and how Heinz ended up "perfecting" it for mass consumption.

Just to put away some of the shock and awe about the use of hydrochloric acid or lye (sodium hydroxide) to adjust pH that was mentioned upthread... The combination produces common salt and water. HCl is what is in your stomach. So, don't worry about it. (although, ingesting either, neat, is certainly NOT recommended)

I thought ketchup (the word and concept, if not the concoction as we know it today) originated in China.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Scott... I thank you for this effort. Your quest reminds me of some of my more insane endeavours. One cold winter day, I obsessively sought the ingredients to make Worchestershire. (It worked, BTW. I used Emeril's recipe.)

Funny - I think I actually taste something Worcestershire-y in the Heinz, and something definitely cooked/caramelized. (Maybe if you caramelized onions/shallots and pureed them? Prob wouldn't look right, but might taste ok.)

And this is a sincere question - since many here seem to agree that Heinz is pretty darned good ketchup (and at least in these parts not all that expensive - pretty darned cheap at Costco, actually), what are your primary reasons for wanting to recreate it? Is it mainly for the satisfaction of having discovered how?

sg

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Scott... I thank you for this effort. Your quest reminds me of some of my more insane endeavours. One cold winter day, I obsessively sought the ingredients to make Worchestershire. (It worked, BTW. I used Emeril's recipe.)

Breaking the Worcesteshire code, huh? I don't use a great deal of Worcesteshire but would definitely like to have a good recipe. Care to share it?

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And this is a sincere question - since many here seem to agree that Heinz is pretty darned good ketchup (and at least in these parts not all that expensive - pretty darned cheap at Costco, actually), what are your primary reasons for wanting to recreate it? Is it mainly for the satisfaction of having discovered how?

I began this quest for decent homemade ketchup because I couldn't find an edible low carb ketchup and at that point, Heinz didn't have a low carb version. Now that I can get Heinz 1 carb ketchup, my reasons for making ketchup of my own are economic. Compared to what I pay for the Heinz 1 carb, my ketchup is pennies.

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Well, I made ketchup once again today. I have to admit that I wasn't that adventurous in regards to any new spice experiment. While making the ketchup I found myself pondering the effect of my three spices (allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg) and it triggered a memory of this post from Evilhomer.

i think the spice profile in ketchup is somehwere in between chutney and pickling spice. allspice, black pepper, chiles,  mustard, coriander, cloves, and caraway are the main flavours i use in typical pickling brine (it's a secret blend of 22 spices mind, but those ones dominate) and i'd reach for them first for ketchup.  It's all about balance because you're looking to increase the tomato flavour in complexity/subtlety, but not really to introduce a variety of new flavours.

This is SO true!

The tiniest amount of these three spices takes a somewhat scattered tomato flavor and focuses it into a laserlike tomatoeyness. It really is uncanny. How can something like allspice make ketchup more tomatoey? *shrugging shoulders* Beats me, but it definitely does.

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  • 10 years later...
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