For other uses, see Ketchup (disambiguation).

A dish of tomato ketchup
Alternative names Catsup, ketsup, condiment.
Type Condiment
Main ingredients Tomatoes, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, vinegar, salt, spices and seasonings
Cookbook: Ketchup  Media: Ketchup

Ketchup, or catsup or ketsup , is a table sauce. Traditionally, recipes featured ketchups made from egg whites, mushrooms, oysters, mussels, walnuts, or other foods,[1][2] but in modern times the unmodified term usually refers to tomato ketchup. Tomato sauce is the more common term in Australia, New Zealand, India, and the UK, and is almost exclusively used in South Africa.

Ketchup is a sweet and tangy sauce, typically made from tomatoes, sweetener, vinegar, and assorted seasonings and spices. Seasonings vary by recipe, but commonly include onions, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and sometimes celery.[3]

Heinz tomato ketchup is the market leader, with an 82% market share in the UK and a 60% share in the US market.[4][5]

Tomato ketchup is often used as a condiment to various dishes that are usually served hot: French fries, hamburgers, hot sandwiches, hot dogs, cooked eggs, and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is sometimes used as the basis for, or an ingredient in, other sauces and dressings, and it is also used as an additive flavoring for snacks like potato chips.


Pickled fish and spices

In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁, Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.[6] By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was tasted by English colonists. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap (pronounced "kay-chap"). That word evolved into the English word "ketchup".[7] English settlers then took ketchup with them to the American colonies.[1]

The term Ketchup was used in 1690 in the Dictionary of the Canting Crew which was well acclaimed in North America.[8] The spelling "catchup" may have also been used in the past.[9]

Mushroom ketchup

Main article: Mushroom ketchup
Homemade mushroom ketchup in a plastic tub

In the United Kingdom, preparations of ketchup were historically and originally prepared with mushrooms as a primary ingredient, rather than tomatoes.[10][11][12] Ketchup recipes began to appear in British and then American cookbooks in the 18th century. In a 1742 London cookbook, the fish sauce had already taken on a very British flavor, with the addition of shallots and mushrooms. The mushrooms soon became a main ingredient, and from 1750 to 1850 the word ketchup began to mean any number of thin dark sauces made of mushrooms or even walnuts.[13] In the United States, mushroom ketchup dates back to at least 1770, and was prepared by British colonists in "English speaking colonies in North America".[14] In contemporary times, mushroom ketchup is available in the UK, although it is not a commonly used condiment.[15]

Tomato ketchup

Tomato ketchup and other condiments
Tomatoes and tomato ketchup

Many variations of ketchup were created, but the tomato-based version did not appear until about a century later after other types. One version of the recipe was created by Sandy Addison and published in an American cookbook, The Sugar House Book .[16]

  1. Get [the tomatoes] quite ripe on a dry day, squeeze them with your hands till reduced to a pulp, then put half a pound of fine salt to one hundred tomatoes, and boil them for two hours.
  2. Stir them to prevent burning.
  3. While hot press them through a fine sieve, with a silver spoon till nought but the skin remains, then add a little mace, 3 nutmegs, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper to taste.
  4. Boil over a slow fire till quite thick, stir all the time.
  5. Bottle when cold.
  6. One hundred tomatoes will make four or five bottles and keep good for two or three years.

This early recipe for "Tomata Catsup" from 1817 still has the anchovies that betray its fish-sauce ancestry:[13]

  1. Gather a gallon of fine, red, and full ripe tomatas; mash them with one pound of salt.
  2. Let them rest for three days, press off the juice, and to each quart add a quarter of a pound of anchovies, two ounces of shallots, and an ounce of ground black pepper.
  3. Boil up together for half an hour, strain through a sieve, and put to it the following spices; a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of allspice and ginger, half an ounce of nutmeg, a drachm of coriander seed, and half a drachm of cochineal.
  4. Pound all together; let them simmer gently for twenty minutes, and strain through a bag: when cold, bottle it, adding to each bottle a wineglass of brandy. It will keep for seven years.

By the mid-1850s, the anchovies had been dropped.[13]

James Mease published another recipe in 1812. In 1824, a ketchup recipe using tomatoes appeared in The Virginia Housewife (an influential 19th-century cookbook written by Mary Randolph, Thomas Jefferson's cousin). American cooks also began to sweeten ketchup in the 19th century.[17]

As the century progressed, tomato ketchup began its ascent in popularity in the United States. Ketchup was popular long before fresh tomatoes were.[18] Many Americans continued to question whether it was safe to eat raw tomatoes. However, they were much less hesitant to eat tomatoes as part of a highly processed product that had been cooked and infused with vinegar and spices.[18]

Tomato ketchup was sold locally by farmers. Jonas Yerkes is credited as the first American to sell tomato ketchup in a bottle.[19] By 1837, he had produced and distributed the condiment nationally.[20] Shortly thereafter, other companies followed suit. F. & J. Heinz launched their tomato ketchup in 1876.[21] Heinz tomato ketchup was advertised: "Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!", a slogan which alluded to the lengthy and onerous process required to produce tomato ketchup in the home.[22] With industrial ketchup production and a need for better preservation there was a great increase of sugar in ketchup, leading to our modern sweet and sour formula.[13]

The Webster's Dictionary of 1913 defined ‘catchup’ as: “table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc. [Also written as ketchup].”

Modern ketchup emerged in the early years of the 20th century, out of a debate over the use of sodium benzoate as a preservative in condiments. Harvey W. Wiley, the "father" of the Food and Drug Administration in the US, challenged the safety of benzoate which was banned in the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. In response, entrepreneurs including Henry J. Heinz, pursued an alternative recipe that eliminated the need for that preservative.[3]

Prior to Heinz (and his fellow innovators), commercial tomato ketchups of that time were watery and thin, in part due to the use of unripe tomatoes, which were low in pectin.[23] They had less vinegar than modern ketchups; by pickling ripe tomatoes, the need for benzoate was eliminated without spoilage or degradation in flavor. But the changes driven by the desire to eliminate benzoate also produced changes that some experts (such as Andrew F. Smith[24]) believe were key to the establishment of tomato ketchup as the dominant American condiment.

The fastest time to drink a bottle of ketchup was set by Benedikt Weber in Germany on the 17th of February 2014, in a time of 32.37 seconds.[25]

Later innovations

In fast food outlets, ketchup is often dispensed in small packets. Diners tear the side or top and squeeze the ketchup out of the ketchup packets. In 2011, Heinz began offering a new measured-portion package, called the "Dip and Squeeze" packet, which allowed the consumer to either tear the top off the package and squeeze the contents out, as with the traditional packet, or, in the alternative, tear the front off the package and use the package as a dip cup of the type often supplied with certain entreés.[26]

Previously, fast food outlets dispensed ketchup from pumps into paper cups. This method has made a resurgence in the first decade of the 21st century with cost and environmental concerns over the increasing use of individual packets.

In October 2000, Heinz introduced colored ketchup products called EZ Squirt, which eventually included green (2000), purple (2001), pink (2002), orange (2002), teal (2002), and blue (2003).[27] These products were made by adding food coloring to the traditional ketchup. As of January 2006 these products have been discontinued.[28]


The term used for the sauce varies. Ketchup is the dominant term in American English, Canadian English, and British English, although catsup is commonly used in some southern US states and Mexico.[29] In these dialects, tomato sauce refers to pasta sauce, and is not a synonym for ketchup. Tomato sauce is more common in some other English-speaking countries (Australia, India, and New Zealand) or used almost exclusively (South Africa). Red sauce is used in Welsh English, Scottish English and some parts of England, such as the Black Country, and in South London, often contrasting with brown sauce with which it is often served—but in Canadian and American English, "red sauce" refers to various tomato-based sauces commonly paired with pasta dishes, and is not a synonym for ketchup.

The etymology of the word ketchup is unclear, with multiple competing theories.[30]

China theory

One prominent theory is that the word came to English from the Cantonese "keh jup" (茄汁 ke2 zap1, a shorterned version of 蕃茄汁 faan1 ke2 zap1 "tomato sauce; tomato juice").[31]

An alternative theory is that the word derives from one of two words from the Fujian region of coastal southern China: "kôe-chiap" (in Xiamen (Amoy)) or "kê-chiap"[32] (in Guangzhou (Canton)). Both of these words (鮭汁, kôe-chiap and kê-chiap) come from the Amoy dialect of China, where it meant the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.[6] There are citations of "koe-chiap" in the Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of the Amoy (London; Trudner) from 1873, defined as "brine of pickled fish or shell-fish."

Malay theory

Ketchup may have[7] entered the English language from the Malay word kicap (pron. "kichap", also spelled kecap, ketjap). Originally meaning "fish sauce", the word itself derives the Chinese terms[33] above.

In Indonesian cuisine, which is similar to Malay, the term kecap refers to fermented savory sauces. Two main types are well known in their cuisine: kecap asin which translates to 'salty kecap' in Indonesian (a salty soy sauce) and kecap manis or literally 'sweet kecap' in Indonesian. Kecap manis is a sweet soy sauce that is a mixture of soy sauce with brown sugar, molasses, garlic, ginger, anise, coriander and a bay leaf reduced over medium heat until rather syrupy. A third type, kecap ikan, meaning "fish kecap" is fish sauce similar to the Thai nam pla or the Philippine patis. It is not, however, soy-based.

European-Arabic theory

American anthropologist E.N. Anderson relies on Elizabeth David to claim that ketchup is a cognate of the French escaveche, meaning "food in sauce," but gives no further authority.[34] The word also exists in Spanish and Portuguese forms as escabeche, "a sauce for pickling", which culinary historian Karen Hess traced back to Arabic Kabees, or "pickling with vinegar". The term was anglicized to caveach, a word first attested in the late 17th century, at the same time as ketchup.[30]

Early uses in English

The word entered the English language in Britain during the late 17th century, appearing in print as catchup (1690) and later as ketchup (1711). The following is a list of early quotations collected by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Blue Label Tomato Ketchup advertisement, Curtice Brothers 1898.
The first published recipe: it included mushrooms, anchovies and horseradish.

The spelling catsup seems to have appeared first from the pen of Jonathan Swift, in 1730. Despite this origin, the spelling is largely unused in Britain today, where it is often assumed to be an Americanism.

"Fancy" ketchup

Some ketchup in the U.S. is labeled "Fancy". This is a USDA grade, relating to specific gravity. Fancy ketchup has a higher tomato solid concentration than other USDA grades.[36]

USDA Ketchup Grades
Grade Specific Gravity Total Solids
Fancy 1.15 33%
Extra Standard 1.13 29%
Standard 1.11 25%


The following table compares the nutritional value of ketchup with raw ripe tomatoes and salsa, based on information from the USDA Food Nutrient Database.[37]

(per 100 g)
Ketchup Low sodium
USDA commodity
Energy 100 kcal
419 kJ
104 kcal
435 kJ
18 kcal
75 kJ
36 kcal
150 kJ
Water 68.33 g 66.58 g 94.50 g 89.70 g
Protein 1.74 g 1.52 g 0.88 g 1.50 g
Fats 0.49 g 0.36 g 0.20 g 0.20 g
Carbohydrates 25.78 g 27.28 g 3.92 g 7.00 g
Sodium 1110 mg 20 mg 5 mg 430 mg
Vitamin C 15.1 mg 15.1 mg 12.7 mg 4 mg
Lycopene 17.0 mg 19.0 mg 2.6 mg n/a

Ketchup has moderate health benefits.[38] Ketchup is a source of lycopene, an antioxidant which may help prevent some forms of cancer. This is particularly true of the organic brands of ketchup, which have three times as much lycopene.[39] Ketchup, much like marinara sauce and other cooked tomato foods, yields higher levels of lycopene per serving because cooking increases lycopene bioavailability.


Transferring ketchup between plastic bottles.

Commercial tomato ketchup has an additive, usually xanthan gum, which gives the condiment a pseudoplastic or "shear thinning" property - more commonly known as thixotropic. This increases the viscosity of the ketchup considerably with a relatively small amount added—usually 0.5%—which can make it difficult to pour from a container. However, the shear thinning property of the gum ensures that when a force is applied to the ketchup it will lower the viscosity enabling the sauce to flow. A common method to getting ketchup out of the bottle involves inverting the bottle and shaking it or hitting the bottom with the heel of the hand, which causes the ketchup to flow rapidly. A technique involves inverting the bottle and forcefully tapping its upper neck with two fingers (index and middle finger together). Specifically, with a Heinz ketchup glass bottle, one taps the 57 circle on the neck. This helps the ketchup flow by applying the correct shearing force.[40] These techniques work because of how pseudoplastic fluids behave: their viscosity (resistance to flow) decreases with increasing shear rate. The faster the ketchup is sheared (by shaking or tapping the bottle), the more fluid it becomes. After the shear is removed the ketchup thickens to its original viscosity.

Ketchup is a Non-Newtonian fluid meaning that its viscosity changes under stress and is not constant. It is a shear thinning fluid which means its viscosity decreases with increased shear stress.[41] The equation used to designate a Non-Newtonian fluid is as follows: . This equation represents apparent viscosity where apparent viscosity is the shear stress divided by shear rate. Viscosity is dependent on stress. This is apparent when you shake a bottle of tomato sauce/ketchup so it becomes liquid enough to squirt out. Its viscosity decreased with stress.[42]

See also


  1. 1 2 Smith, Andrew F. (1996). Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment, with Recipes. University of South Carolina Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-57003-139-7. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  2. "Ketchup: A Saucy History". History. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  3. 1 2 "How ketchup is made". Made how. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  4. "Behind the Label: tomato ketchup". The Ecologist. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  5. "The Ketchup War that Never Was: Burger Giants' Link to Heinz". 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  6. 1 2 In the Chinese Amoy dialect, "kôe-chiap" (Xiamen accented Amoy) or "kê-chiap" (probably Penang Hokkien, which is based on Zhangzhou accented Amoy) (part of the Ming Na language) signifies "brine of pickled fish or shell-fish" (The Oxford English Dictionary, Douglas Chinese Dict. 46/1, 242/1).
  7. 1 2 "Ketchup - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  8. "History of A History of Heinz® Tomato Ketchup". Heinz. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  9. Smith, Andrew F. (1996). Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment, with Recipes. Univ of South Carolina Press. ISBN 9781570031397.
  10. Cooke, Mordecai Cubitt (1891). British Edible Fungi. pp. 201–206.
  11. Bell, Annie (June 5, 1999). "Condiments to the chef". The Independent. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  12. Branston, Thomas F. (1857). The hand-book of practical receipts of every-day use. Lindsay & Blakiston. pp. 148–149.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "The Cosmopolitan Condiment". Retrieved 2015-01-30.
  14. Smith, Andrew F. (1996). Pure Ketchup. Univ of South Carolina Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1570031398.
  15. The Independent 5 June 1999, Condiments to the Chef
  16. The origin of ketchup & the first recipe, Matse cooks.
  17. Elizabeth Rozin (1994). The Primal Cheeseburger. New York: Penguin books. ISBN 978-0-14-017843-2.
  18. 1 2 "Tomato History: From Poison to Obsession".
  19. Skrabec Jr, Quentin R. (2009). H.J. Heinz a biography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. p. 56. ISBN 0-78645332-X. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  20. Skrabec, Quentin R (2009), H.J. Heinz: a biography, McFarland & Co., p. 57>
  21. "Heinz - History". H.J. Heinz Co. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  22. Casey, Kathy (2004). Retro Food Fiascos: A Collection of Curious Concoctions. Collectors Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-888054-88-0.
  23. Gladwell, Malcolm (2009). What the dog saw and other adventures. Little, Brown & Co., New York, p. 41.
  24. Andrew F. Smith (2001). The Tomato in America: Early History, Culture, and Cookery. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07009-9.
  25. Glenday, Craig (20913). Guinness World Records 2014. 2013 Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 978-1-908843-15-9. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. Nassauer, Sarah (September 19, 2011). "Old Ketchup Packet Heads for Trash". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  27. "Heinz unveils new blue ketchup". USA Today. Associated Press. April 7, 2003.
  28. Heinz - Consumer FAQs Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. "Catsup vs Ketchup". July 2014.
  30. 1 2 "The etymological origin of the word ketchup is a matter of confusion." Pure Ketchup, by Andrew F. Smith, ISBN 1-56098-993-9. Page 4.
  31. South China Morning Post article
  32. "Ketchup". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Company
  33. Yang, Kassim (1994). Kamus Minerva. Seremban.
  34. Eugene N. Anderson. The Food of China. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988; ISBN 0300047398), p. 160.
  35. Mitchell, Christine M. "Book Review: The Handy Homemaker, Eighteenth-Century Style" (PDF). JASNA News (Spring 2010). Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  36. "Textural Modification of Processing Tomatoes" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  37. "National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference". USDA. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  38. "Ketchup". BBC. July 27, 2004. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  39. Ishida, B; Chapman, M (2004). "A comparison of carotenoid content and total antioxidant activity in catsup from several commercial sources in the United States". J Agric Food Chem. 52 (26): 8017–20. doi:10.1021/jf040154o. PMID 15612790.
  40. "What's the best way to get Heinz® Ketchup out of the iconic glass bottle?". Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  41. "Non-Newtonian fluids". Sciencelearn Hub. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  42. "Shear Mystery | Science Mission Directorate". Retrieved 2016-10-12.

External links

Look up ketchup in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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