Simple Fermented Ketchup Recipe

I like ketchup.  I can’t eat French fries, hamburgers or meatloaf without it. Ketchup has umami, the taste that adds savoriness, a little sweetness for my taste buds and antioxidants to keep my body healthy. Win, win!  

But this fermented version kicks it up a notch.  The complexity of flavor adds something special to whatever you put it on.  

And the salad dressing made from it has become one of our favorites.  It is a variation of a sweet/ sour, French dressing but with a complexity of flavor that commercial French dressing cannot match.  Click here for the salad dressing recipe.


Add more healthy bacteria to your diet without “vegetables” or yogurt.  Are there really “live active cultures” in this ketchup?  Yes there are!  And you are going to use sauerkraut “juice” or yogurt whey – things that are often thrown away to make it.  

Fermented sauerkraut 

You are using sauerkraut that is fermented, not canned.  When you read the ingredient label, it should contain cabbage, salt and water.  There may be other vegetables like beets or flavors like ginger.  You may want to avoid these until you have made this recipe at least once.  

If the ingredient list on your sauerkraut lists vinegar, that is not one with live active cultures. You should purchase the saurkraut in the refrigerated section and the price should shock you the first time you purchase it.  (My favorite is $9 a jar!! Yikes!  But you will only eat a couple of tablespoons at a time, AND it will make this delicious ketchup.)

This ketchup will last several weeks in your refrigerator.  I would like to report several months, but ours never lasts that long.  Store it in a glass jar.  Weck are my choice, but any glass jar with a wide mouth will do.   A wide mouth jar makes it easier to push down any ketchup on the sides. 

Every time you are through using the ketchup, push any from the sides down into the remaining ketchup.  It only takes 15 seconds but it will help prolong its life so that the  small amounts of ketchup on the sides of the jar will not mold. 


Maple syrup – honey, other liquid syrup sweetener.  You can probably use granulated sugar, but I have not tried it. You will have to add some water if you use a non-liquid sweetener.

Garlic – if you cannot use garlic, I would try shallots or onions, minced finely. You can also leave it out.

Dairy – If you cannot tolerate yogurt, be sure to use the saurkraut juice for starter.  Any other fermented vegetable juice should work – I have not tried another, let me know if you do!

Vinegar – you can add even more good bacteria if you use an apple cider vinegar with active cultures, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  Distilled vinegar will work also.

Easy Preparation

This ketchup could not be more simple to prepare.

Chop the garlic.  Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature for the allicin to develop. (see mincing garlic here for more info)

Mix the tomato paste with the fermented liquid (sauerkraut juice or whey from yogurt) & apple cider vinegar.  

Add the maple syrup and garlic.

Stir in the spices.  Put the ketchup in a glass jar.

Let the ketchup sit on your counter (room temperature) loosely covered for three days.  Tightly seal and refrigerate.


My Recipe Notes:

  • If you are using sauerkraut starter, drain the liquid until you have six tablespoons.  If this leaves some sauerkraut out of the brine, plan to eat it today or tomorrow.  I save the liquid left from my sauerkraut to make this ketchup.
  • If you are using yogurt for your starter, drain whey into a measuring cup.  If you do not have enough, you may have to drain some yogurt.  You can use a nifty yogurt strainer (I picked mine up at King Arthur catalog years ago & love it but it only gets used a couple of times a year.) or you can just use a coffee filter or layers of cheesecloth in a strainer.  If you need to strain some yogurt it may take an hour or so.  Put it in the fridge while it strains.  
  • Be sure that the yogurt has live active cultures.
  • I recently scolded my husband for drinking the whey – “I am trying to make fermented ketchup with that – don’t use it!!” Poor guy.  More signs in my fridge!
  • You can mix the starter – some sauerkraut “juice” and some whey from yogurt.  
  • If you use a glass or metal bowl you will not need to worry about staining your plastic container.
  • Slowly add the starter, mixing as you go until well combined.  
  • I like to use a Weck tulip jar.  I can put just the glass lid on without a gasket or clips for fermentation.  Then I can add the gasket and clips for longer term refrigerated storage.
  • Before fermentation scrape down any ketchup from the sides and wipe the sides with a paper towel or cloth.  I do this after using also, but do not wipe down the sides of the container.
  • Leave loosely covered at room temperature for three days.  In a Weck jar, I put on the glass lid only (no rubber gasket or clips).
  • Store in the refrigerator when fermentation is complete.
  • As this ketchup sits in your refrigerator it will get thicker and thicker.  That is NORMAL.  If it gets too thick, just put some in a bowl, add & mix in water to your desired consistency.  
  • You can customize the spices in this recipe to your family’s tastes.  Try adding cinnamon, cloves, smoked paprika or mustard powder.  The tweaks are easy and endless.  The first time you add a spice you may want to add spices to a small portion of your ketchup as a taste test.  


Fermented Ketchup

A delicous, easy recipe to add more flavor to your meal!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 24
Calories 10 kcal


  • 3 6 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons sauerkraut juice, or whey
  • 3 tablespoons unpasturized apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper


  • Mince the garlic. Let the garlic stand while you mix the other ingredients (preferrably 10 minutes.)
    half clove garlic minced, half is whole
  • Mix the tomato paste with the sauerkraut juice or whey.
    adding sauerkraut liquid to tomato paste
  • Add the vinegar and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the maple syrup and spices. Mix.
    adding maple syrup to ketchup
  • Stir in the garlic.
    adding garlic to ketchup
  • Add salt and cayenne. Mix thoroughly.
    salt & cayenne on ketchup in bowl
  • Scrape the edges of the container so they are clean. Cover loosely and let sit on the counter for three days.
  • Seal tightly, refrigerate and enjoy.
  • If your ketchup gets too thick (it will!) add water. I usually just add water to the portion we are going to eat. Enjoy!


This recipe was inspired by Lindsey Gremont at The Homemade Mommy. 
Thanks Lindsey for a great recipe inspiration!


Calories: 10kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 99mgPotassium: 9mgSugar: 2gVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 4mgZinc: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


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