Make or Buy? Tomato Ketchup

Ketchup is the required condiment for cookouts large and small, near and far. A hot dog just wouldn't be the same without it! Have you ever tried making your own?

For purposes of comparison, we'll use classic Heinz Tomato Ketchup and a recipe for ketchup from Saveur Magazine:

Homemade Ketchup from Saveur

All costs were taken from Peapod Online Grocery. In the homemade cost, we don't account for the cost of salt or other typical pantry staples.

COST BREAKDOWN

Heinz Tomato Ketchup (40 oz bottle)
TOTAL: $2.50
PER SERVING (1 Tablespoon): $0.02

Homemade Ketchup
1 28-oz. can tomato puree: $1.95
1 medium yellow onion: $1.30
1 clove garlic: $0.06
1⁄2 fresh jalapeño: $0.15
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar: $0.10
1⁄2 cup cider vinegar: $0.30
Pinch cayenne: $0.05
Pinch celery salt: $0.05
Pinch dry mustard: $0.05
Pinch ground allspice: $0.05
Pinch ground cloves: $0.05
Pinch ground ginger: $0.05
Pinch ground cinnamon: $0.05
Salt and freshly ground black pepper: $0.00
Spices are roughly calculated

TOTAL (3 cups): $4.21
PER SERVING (1 Tablespoon): $0.09

TIME BREAKDOWN

Heinz Tomato Ketchup: 0 minutes

Homemade Ketchup: Active time: about 5 minutes; Total time: about an hour

CONVENIENCE

All that is required to make your own ketchup is whizzing everything together in a food processor and then letting it simmer on the stove for 45 minutes. The ketchup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month. Sure, it's not as convenient as squeezing a bottle, but we'd actually say that making your own ketchup sounds pretty darn easy.

TASTINESS AND HEALTHFULNESS

We've tried a lot of homemade ketchups over the years, some good and some bad. Almost every recipe has to be tweaked to some degree because we all have different ideas of what makes ketchup "good." But there's your argument for making it yourself: you can actually tweak the recipe and get it just right. With Heinz or any other bottled ketchup, you get what you get (unless you start tweaking it too, at which point, why not make your own?!)

Heinz and many commercial ketchups also contain high fructose corn syrup, though HFCS-free versions have been making their way into the market. If this is something you prefer to avoid, making ketchup yourself is a sure bet for getting what you want.

MAKE OR BUY?

It's hard to side against a classic like Heinz. After all, most of our palates have been trained since infancy to respond to the higher sugar and higher salt in commercial ketchups. No matter what you do, homemade ketchup is just going to taste different.

But looking at how easy it is to make ketchup at home, we're thinking that we're ready to give up the bottle. We're sure using fresh tomatoes during the summer months will be a big hit. How can it not?

VERDICT: We're going homemade on this one. Sorry, Mr. Heinz.

What do you think?

Related: Make or Buy? Crackers

(Images: Peapod and Beatriz Da Costa/Saveur)

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