This month, we’re featuring dips and sauces. With summer barbecues just around the corner, there’s one sauce that always makes an appearance: ketchup! This homemade version tastes much fresher than the bottled kind, and you can customize it with garlic, jalapeño, whatever you’d like. Here, Jacquelyn of Lark & Linen shows us how…

Homemade Ketchup
By Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen

I get the sense that the general population can be divided into two categories: ketchup lovers and those who are impartial. I, for one, am totally and completely on Team Ketchup, to the point that if we don’t have it stocked, I panic for a brief moment. (I wish I were joking.)

It only recently occurred to me that I could make ketchup myself, with items already found in my pantry! And the best part? It’s so damn easy you could do it blindfolded. Plus? It’s customizable. Extra garlic? Sure! A jalapeño? Why not! The following is my go-to version (which tastes even better than my beloved Heinz). But feel free to alter as you see fit. It’s impossible to mess up.

Recipe: Easy Homemade Ketchup

You’ll need:

4 small bay leaves
4 or 5 whole cloves
A small square of cheesecloth (can be found at any grocery store)
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (if you want it to really taste like Heinz, double it!)
1 clove of garlic, squished with the back of your knife
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. all spice

Place your bay leaves and cloves in the small square of cheesecloth, wrap and tie in a knot. Pour all the other ingredients (including your little cheesecloth bundle) into a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a simmer.

Once simmering, turn heat to medium and let bubble until mixture reduces by half (this should take 30 minutes). Stir every once in a while making sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Dig around until you find your cheesecloth bundle and throw it out. Purée the rest in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Store in an airtight bottle or container in your fridge.

Thank you so much, Jacquelyn!

P.S. More best recipes, including french fries and three-ingredient salsa.

(Photos and recipe by Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)