REAL FOOD 101: How to Make Lacto-Fermented Ketchup

How to Make Lacto-Fermented Ketchup | OUR NOURISHING ROOTS #ferment #lactofermented #DIY #probiotics #realfood

This post is part of a series.  You can buy the Volume One of the e-book containing several REAL FOOD 101 tutorials here: To buy the REAL FOOD 101 E-book: Traditional Foods, Traditionally Prepared, click here.  Full color photos, step by step tutorials, and more.  Only $14.

When you start reading labels at the grocery store, you may find yourself considering the idea of just making your own condiments.  Fortunately making ketchup is pretty simple, because it sure is tasty on all the grass-fed hamburgers and hot dogs at my house!  But ketchup is quite versatile too.  We also use it as a base for cocktail sauce and barbaque sauce on a regular basis.  I have not tried it, but I am guessing fry sauce would be amazing too.  Yummmm…okay, stay focused!

But most of all, I love that this ketchup is lacto-fermented, which means that it has probiotic goodness coursing through it.  When you add the whey and let it sit out overnight, the good bacteria grow and make your ketchup good for your gut.  Plus, this ketchup isn’t a compromise.  There is no need to worry about the price tag or the content: it costs very little, and there are not any ingredients to dread!

I love ketchup for dipping various forms of potato into it: french fries fried in grass-fed tallow, roasted potatoes and onions, hash browns, and so on.  But now that I am off starchy vegetables for the next while, I still am missing my beloved ketchup.  (Confession: especially when I find shrimp on sale and I want to make cocktail sauce!)

Lacto-Fermented Ketchup
makes one quart jars-worth of ketchup

12 ounces of tomato paste (two of the small cans, preferably BPA-free)
16 ounces plain tomato sauce (one regular can, preferably BPA-free)
1/4 cup set honey (buy raw, set honey here)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (buy organic spices here)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder (buy organic spices here)
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard, or prepared mustard (buy organic mustard powder here)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (buy organic cayenne pepper here)
salt and pepper to taste (buy unrefined sea salts herebuy organic peppers here)
1/4 cup whey

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the tomato paste, tomato sauce, and honey until smooth.  Add garlic powder, onion powder, dried mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, stirring well to incorporate completely.  Taste and adjust seasonings as you see fit.
  2. Add the whey and mix thoroughly.  Transfer ketchup to a glass jar and cover loosely with a lid.  Leave at room temperature on a kitchen counter for 2 days.  Make sure it is not fermenting right next to another kind of ferment you might have going.  Give them at least a few feet apart from each other.
  3. After 2 days, cap completely and transfer to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.
Congratulations!  You have a probiotic condiment to add even more digestive goodness to your diet.  As you get into the habit of making these kinds of recipes a staple in your house, the more you will get probiotic foods fully incorporated into each meal, which is ideal.

Now that you can use this ketchup to give your meals a probiotic boost, you can fashion other sauces from this base, also lending the probiotic power to those creations.

To make barbeque sauce simply add molasses, honey, mustard, apple cider vinegar, paprika, chili powder, lemon juice, and a little pickle juice (yep!).  I will make this again soon and write down all the measurements so I can post it here.

For cocktail sauce, simply add horseradish, more cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and a little chili sauce and hot sauce.  I will write up the recipe soon and update soon.

To make fry sauce, simply mix together this ketchup with some homemade mayonnaise.  Dipping delight!

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  1. Hi, can the whey be left out, I’m allergic to dairy.

    • Yes, you can leave the whey out if you add apple cider vinegar. It should still ferment on the counter that way.

      • You could certainly do that, but I find that the honey is hard to mix in. Just use really thin/runny honey and it should work. But mine seems to ferment fine putting the honey in first.

    • Water kefir can be substituted for whey in most ferments that call for whey. Water kefir produces a fantastic tasting result with this recipe, though if the water kefir is fresh, it can turn it a bit bubbly!

      I’ve found that fresh living kombucha can be substituted as well, but I haven’t personally tried it with this recipe

  2. Pavil, the Uber Noob says:

    I fermented my own thick tomato sauce, fish sauce and brown mustard and used them for the fermented tomato ketchup. Came out pretty good.

    Ciao, Pavil

  3. Wouldn’t it make more sense to ferment it first and then add the honey?

  4. I made a similar recipe for my kids, except I used maple syrup instead of honey and added after the fermentation process. A great way to sneak good bacteria to them since ketchup is practically another food group around these parts.

  5. I LOVE KETCHUP. Out of all the real food ketcup recipes, I think yours looks the most doable 😉 Ive never done it but plan to soon, after my semester is over

  6. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  7. We just love homemade Ketchup and your recipe looks delicious. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  8. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

  9. How long does this last in the refrigerator?

  10. Can you use salt instead of whey? I have a dairy allergy to casein. If you can do you get as much good bacteria as with whey?

  11. Hi can I use greek yogurt instead of whey. Whey is hard to come by. Thanks

  12. Do you think I can “can” this in a waterbath or pressure canner?

  13. Hello! I’d like to know if it’s possible to can our homemade ketchup (not fermented yet), so that we make ketchup just 1-2 times per year to keep on the pantry shelves.

    Then as we’re almost finished with one bottle, we could put in some whey or culture after we opened our homemade, canned ketchup.

    But here’s where it might get tricky: Because we’d be adding 1/4 cup of whey after opening it, we’d have to make it very thick/dense to can, which I believe increases chances of botulism (because we can’t can some purees like pumpkin or bean dips). So unless there’s a work around, would our only choice be to use powdered culture once we opened our homemade canned ketchup?


  14. Crystal Yeates says:

    Why does the jar have to be fit loosely? What will happen if it’s airtight? I thought fermentation had to occur in an anaerobic environment?

    • You want it to breathe while it’s fermenting on the counter. When you ferment something like sauerkraut then you want the cabbage submerged under the liquid line so that it’s in an anaerobic environment. But with ketchup there is no liquid line, so you want the lid fit loosely to let it breathe.

  15. Do the garlic an onion have to be in powder form or can i use them fresh?

    • I haven’t tried it with fresh, but I bet it would be yummy! Try pressing the garlic and onion through a garlic press or smashing them to a paste with the side of a knife. That should make it incorporate to a smooth consistency in the ketchup 🙂

  16. Wait, you have grass-fed hot dogs?? My kids would love me forever if I took off the hot dog ban! Where do you get those? Thanks!
    And thanks for the recipe!!

  17. What is set honey? Can I use regular raw honey?

  18. Jenelle says:

    I don’t know if I did something wrong or it’s just the way it’s supposed to be. Mine turned out very thick and appears to have air pockets in the jar (it’s just that dense that when I mix it, that’s what happens). I used a mason jar-filled the entire thing up and used apple cidar vinegar instead of whey. Everything else was organic/raw ingredients and there is simply no liquid content at all. Should I add more tomato sauce, vinegar or add purified water perhaps? It tastes GREAT, just unable to dip our home made fries and what not into it. I even tried whisking and nadda. Thank you

    • I would add more tomato sauce to thin it out, and then season it up a bit if it loses flavor. It is thick, but it should be that thick!

  19. Any ideas on how I would make femented ketchup using my fresh hierloom tomatoes?

  20. I want to make this, but I also need to make it diry-free. If I use ACV or Water Kefir, how much would I add? Ty


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