Sunday 21 January 2018

Let's get saucy!

These fermented sauces are fun to make - and keep for months

Valerie O'Connor, author of Val's Kitchen
Valerie O'Connor, author of Val's Kitchen
Barbecue sauce.
Tomato sauce
Fermented wholegrain mustard

Valerie O'Connor

This year the big, bad food that's on everybody's lips for elimination is sugar. Sugar is the new white bread and when we see all the places it lives, it can be really freaky. Sugar isn't just in the bowl on the table, it's in the biscuits, cereals, drinks and ready meals too.

Busy, time-poor families often buy processed foods and these foods are loaded with sugar and preservatives especially when it comes to some of our absolute favourite things like tomato ketchup, relishes and other condiments we use to spice up our food.

This is one area where I really hit a wall when I might make some potato wedges or burgers that simply have to have ketchup or sauce on them. So I decided to try making my own fermented ketchup, mustard and other relishes to see if I could get over this hurdle.

Personally I find regular ketchup a bit too wincingly vinegary anyway so it's not something I struggle to avoid. The fun thing about homemade ketchup is that it's explosive, and I don't mean in a spicy way - it will actually explode if you don't let the air out of the jar as you should every day until the fermenting dies down.

This might make it highly attractive to kids who could make it as a science experiment, a tasty one of course! When it comes to sneaking probiotic foods into your daily food, this is one of the tastiest ways.

Fermented tomato ketchup

Tomato sauce

You can buy organic tomato paste for this recipe but non-organic works very well too and costs little in Asian supermarkets. Whey is what will really get this fermenting quickly. You can make whey easily by buying a large tub of plain, natural yogurt and straining it through a muslin-lined sieve.

The watery liquid that comes out of the yogurt is whey and it will keep for months in the fridge. If you don't do dairy, the recipe will work without the whey, you can replace it with juice from your own home-made sauerkraut.

Sterilise two regular sized jam jars or a selection of small jars by boiling them for ten minutes or putting them through a dishwasher cycle without a tablet.


1 x 15oz tin of tomato paste/puree

150g honey

50ml water

2 tblsp whey

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 pinch cinnamon (leave out if you don't like cinnamon)

1 pinch black pepper

1 tsp salt


1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl or jug. Whisking the mixture will ensure it's nice and smooth.

2. Decant it into the clean jars and pop on the lids. Don't fill them right up to the top as the mixture will expand.

3. Leave the jars to ferment over a few days 3-6 on your kitchen counter which is ideally a bit cosy. Putting them on a tray it good in case of spillages. If you think the kitchen is too cold, putting the jars in the airing cupboard will speed up the process. A temperature of 18-20 degrees is best.

4. Open the jars once a day to let the gasses escape, do this with a cloth over the jar in case of spitting!

5. After a week the ketchup is ready to eat. It will be tangy as ketchup already is, but you can be smug in the knowledge that you made this yourself - and it's good for your gut too.

Barbeque sauce

Barbecue sauce.

This is amazing with some good quality sausages or home-made burgers or anything off the barbeque This makes one 500ml jar or two smaller ones. Sterilise as the above recipes.


200ml tomato puree

1 onion - finely chopped

2 cloves garlic - crushed

50ml honey

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 cayenne pepper

1 tsp mustard powder

2 tblsp whey or juice from your home-made sauerkraut


1. Whisk up all of the ingredients in a bowl and spoon it in to a jar or two.

2. Leave it to ferment for 3-5 days on the kitchen counter and then transfer it to the fridge where it will keep for months.

I love wholegrain mustard and when it appeared on the market many moons ago I couldn't get enough of its yummy, tart, sweet spiciness, especially on sausages or cheddar cheese.

This works out a lot cheaper than those ceramic jars of wholegrain French mustard that I buy sometimes, though they are very tasty too.

Fermented wholegrain mustard

Fermented wholegrain mustard

This is an easy recipe to make, and it makes about three regular sized jars. Sterilise your jars (as per the ketchup recipe, above) and follow the instructions for whey.


150ml whey

100g yellow mustard seeds

100g brown mustard seeds

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic 1 tsp sea salt

2 tblsp honey


1. Combine the whey, mustard seeds, onion and garlic in a bowl and leave it overnight. This will ensure the mustard seeds soak up the whey and swell up as they need to.

2. In a food processor or blender, whizz everything up with the honey and salt until you have a consistency that you like, not too smooth, you still want a few bits in it.

3. Spoon it in to your clean jars and ferment as the ketchup recipe above. This will keep for months in the fridge.

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