Friday, February 4, 2022

Ketchup, Five Ways

Did you know that ketchup used to be a fish-based sauce? Originating centuries before in southern China, British traders developed a taste for the condiment by the early 18th century. Attempts to replicate it at home were varied, and British ketchups often made use of anchovies, mushrooms, or walnuts.

A 1796 edition of Elizabeth Raffald's The Experienced English Housekeeper offers five recipes. The fourth, "catchup that keeps seven years," reads as follows:

"Take two quarts of the oldest strong-beer you can get, put it to one quart of red wine, three quarters of a pound of anchovies, three ounces of shalots peeled; half an ounce of mace, the same of nutmegs; a quarter of an ounce of cloves, three large races of ginger cut in slices, boil all together over a moderate fire till one third is wafted, the next day bottle it for use; it will carry to the East-Indies."

None of Raffald's ketchups make use of tomatoes, a trend that wouldn't emerge for a few more years. It would be nearly another century before tomato ketchup took on the sweeter flavor we're used to today - adding sugar improved the effectiveness of the preservation process.

To read Raffald's other four ketchup recipes, and to sneak a peek at more in The Experienced English Housekeeper, ask for Rare Book TX705 .R33 1796.