Last week we examined the paleo-ness of Tamari in response to our Soy Sauce article.  Sadly, neither of these sauces cut the mustard (foreshadowing intended).  Pressing onward, today we are taking on the white whale of condiments, ketchup.

What is Ketchup?

Can a hamburger be eaten without ketchup? Is it even possible? How about baked sweet potato fries?  Ketchup is one of America’s favorite condiments, but if you are adhering to a Paleo lifestyle can you eat it?

is ketchup paleo

This deliciously tangy and sweet sauce is a simple concoction of tomatoes, onion, salt, and water. That sounds Paleo to me. Unfortunately, most ketchup brands add America’s favorite sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Surprise.

I took a look at the back of a Heinz label, and in addition to HFCS and regular corn syrup, the other red flag was “natural flavoring.” If you’re a Paleophile, you know that “natural” means nothing in this country’s labeling system, so those flavorings could be about as natural as polyester. The other ingredients included tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, salt, onion powder, and “spice.” I’m not comfortable with the nondescript “spice,” either, but on the organic version, those spices were Certified Organic, and the HFCS was replaced by real sugar, so that’s at least a step in the right direction.

Is it Paleo?

But is one step in the right direction enough to feed a caveman? According to strict Paleo doctrine: no.  If you’re willing to bypass the major brands such as Heinz and Hunt’s and make ketchup yourself (or buy a certified organic ketchup after careful label reading) then yes,ketchup can be Paleo!

Making your own takes time, but you might just end up with a sauce that’s better than the store brands.  Bespoke Ketchup (trademark pending).

Try this recipe found at Paleo Diet Lifestyle.

  • 6 ounces tomato paste*
  • 2 tbsp vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

*If your personal Paleo lifestyle doesn’t include tomato paste, just blanch, peel, cook, and strain about half a pound of fresh tomatoes.

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