Compound Tomato Sauce (lacto-fermented ketchup)

Also see updated recipe here

Adapted from a recipe in The First African-American Cookbook from 1881 using a method described by Sally Fallon, this is a rich, thick  fermented (rather than cooked) ketchup.  I left out the high fructose corn syrup, in case you feel like calling the food police..


1 1/2 cups organic tomato paste (or make your own)
1/8 cup whey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional)
1/8 cup fermented fish sauce OR 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Grind dry ingredients together in a spice grinder or mortar.  Add to the rest of the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and stir well to combine.

Add filtered water, if necessary, to achieve the thickness that you prefer.

Transfer ketchup to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and allow to sit at room temperature for 48-72 hours before transferring to refrigerator for long-term storage.

0 thoughts on “Compound Tomato Sauce (lacto-fermented ketchup)

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  5. Thank you so much! I am going to try this one… I do have one question, do you make your own fermented fish sauce, or do you know of a good one to buy. I have been a bit scared to ferment fish myself! Eek!

    • I looked at the recipe and like you, decided to go with the commercial stuff; Thai author Kasma Loha-unchit has some good tips about fish sauce and recommends Tra Chang and Golden Boy.

      I’m going to drop the anchovy paste next time, as the batch was a little pungent for my taste.

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    • A non-reactive bowl is one that doesn’t react chemically with the food that you put into it. Most citrus and tomatoes, for example, can take on a metallic taste if prepared or stored in anything other than stainless steel, ceramic or glass.

    • It does, but its a great way to use up fallen, bruised or excess tomatoes at the end of the season; a few pounds will make enough paste to last the winter.

      • Thanks! I think I’m going to crush it in my mortar. My son lost a part from my press so it doesn’t work anymore! Can’t wait to try this!!!

        • You’re welcome!

          I ‘ve heard from a few others that my recipe is a little strong for their taste, so you might want cut back on the seasoning/anchovy and add it a little at a time until it tastes good to you (the flavors will intensify a little under refrigeration).

          Good luck!

          • Thanks for the recommendation! I want my kids to be able to eat it so it’ll probably better that I do less seasoning anyhow!

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  8. Is the fish sauce optional, or just the anchovy? I’d love to try this but I’m not a fan of either flavor. Also, how long does it last?

    • Both are completely optional (I prefer just a dab of anchovy). I think my last batch kept for about 3 months and it tasted good until the end.

  9. I made your recipe today. The flavors are intense just like we like it! My husband and I are from the Caribbean (temporarily living in South Florida) and are avid cooks. We are getting back to gardening, preparing our foods from scratch and purchasing local . We love all the flavors of your ketchup recipe (and mustard). However, we upped the maple syrup and cayenne pepper by 1/4. I will get back to you in a week or so after it has settled down . Thank you for sharing!

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