8 Things You Didn't Know About Ketchup

8 Things You Didn't Know About Ketchup
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8 Things You Didn't Know About Ketchup

Where should you really be storing ketchup? Learn this and more about the ever-popular condiment.

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Is it ketchup, catchup or catsup?

According to Andrew F. Smith's book Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment with Recipes, there has been passionate debate in the past two centuries over the “correct” spelling of this beloved condiment. Nowadays ketchup has emerged the victor, but only a few decades ago catsup was the word of choice in many dictionaries!

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The first English recipe for ketchup had anchovies.

Andrew Smith writes that the earliest record of a ketchup recipe in the English language was published in the 1727 edition of Compleat Housewife; or, Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion by Eliza Smith. This popular recipe for “English Katchop” called for anchovies, shallots, white wine vinegar, two types of white wine and a complex spice blend of mace, ginger, cloves and other flavors, resembling more of a fish sauce.

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Ketchup did not always have tomato in it.

Long before tomato-based ketchup, the most popular types of ketchup were mushroom, seafood and walnut! Andrew Smith writes that in the mid-1700s, the English would use the liquids of the aforementioned ingredients (acquired through cooking and/or straining) and add salt or wine/beer (to encourage fermentation) and spices.

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How was homemade tomato ketchup originally made?

One of the earliest records for tomato-based ketchup appears in Sandy Addison’s cookbook “The Sugar House Book”. The 1801 recipe uses 100 tomatoes to make four to five jars of sauce and involves hand-squeezing each tomato until it is reduced to a pulp, stirring while boiling the mixture for two hours over a hot fire, sieving the pulpy mixture with a silver spoon and boiling again until thick. That's a lot of work!

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How did Heinz advertise his commercial ketchup in 1876?

When Henry Heinz introduced his commercial tomato ketchup in 1876, he advertised it as a “blessed relief for mother and the other women in the household.” Looking at Addison’s homemade ketchup recipe from 1801, we can see why.

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Americans ate ketchup before raw tomatoes

Through the 1800s, tomato ketchup rose in popularity and long before fresh tomatoes did because many Americans wrongly believed raw tomatoes were poisonous. By processing and cooking them into ketchup, Americans were more willing to consume the fruit.

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What's the difference between tomato sauce and ketchup? Depends on where you're asking.

In the U.S., tomato sauce and ketchup are clearly distinct. Ketchup tastes sweeter, spicier and tangier, has a production process that involves partial fermentation and large amounts of vinegar and is denser in tomato solid concentration. We put ketchup on our french fries and tomato sauce in our pasta dishes. However, the two are used interchangeably in the U.K. to refer to the condiment, and the encroaching use of "ketchup" in "tomato sauce"-loyal Australia has met resistance.

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To refrigerate or not to refrigerate?

According to online shelf life guide Still Tasty, an opened bottle of ketchup will keep in the pantry for about one month versus six months in the fridge before its quality is affected.

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We gave you the basics, but what else might surprise you about this common condiment?

Ketchup might prevent cancer.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, one tablespoon of ketchup contains 2.9 mg of lycopene, a phytochemical that can potentially help lower the risk of cancer. You would need to eat about 7 tablespoons to get the same amount of lycopene as half a cup of tomato sauce (19 mg) or one cup of tomato juice (23 mg) – not exactly the best option if you’re watching your sugar and salt intake.

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Why does the ketchup bottle hate me?

We know too well the frustrating experience when ketchup stubbornly sticks to the bottom of the bottle and after a good shake gushes out like an avalanche. The science behind this phenomenon pinpoints a property called “shear thinning”, which changes the thickness of ketchup when it is stirred or shaken.

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You can use ketchup to clean copper and your hair.

We're often trying to get ketchup stains out of our clothes, so it's a bit strange to think of ketchup as a cleaning agent. Try polishing your copper pots and pans with the condiment; the acidity dissolves tarnish. Or treat chlorine-damaged hair with ketchup for a homemade hair mask that restores color.

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Why do Chicagoans protest ketchup on their hot dogs?

Vienna Beef executive Bob Schwartz, author of the book Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog, theorizes that Chicago’s beef with ketchup may have started almost a century ago with the popularity of the “dragged-through-the-garden” style of hot dog, deeming ketchup a poor addition to sliced tomatoes and other toppings.

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Other floating theories?

Others believe sugary sweet ketchup overpowers the flavor of a frank, or that ketchup gets its bad rep from having been used during wartime to cover up the taste of rotten meat. Whatever the reason, you can count Dirty Harry and President Obama as proponents of this no-ketchup rule.

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Do you remember green and purple ketchup?

In 2000, Heinz released a new kid-friendly EZ Squirt bottle with green artificially colored ketchup. Within the first three years, the company sold more than 25 million bottles and expanded their line to include purple, blue and Mystery Color. But like most other trends, the colored goop fell out of favor and the line was discontinued in 2006.

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Does tapping the number 57 on the bottle work?

According to Heinz, only 11% of people know that the secret to releasing ketchup faster from the bottle is by tapping the “57” sweet spot on the bottle.

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In the world of condiments, ketchup plays the role of America's sweetheart. Transforming over time from its pungent origin as a fish sauce into today's glossy tomato-based topping, ketchup has earned its rightful place on dinner tables and condiment stations worldwide. We often slather it over comfort foods like french fries, hamburgers and hot dogs (much to the chagrin of Chicagoans) and find that the sweet and tangy sauce improves the most bland of dishes (although some foodies and critics may passionately disagree).

But how much do you really know about ketchup? Ever wonder why it is solid one minute and runny the next, or want to find out how you can use ketchup outside the kitchen?

Check out the slideshow above to discover more things to love about this hotly debated and much beloved sauce.

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