ketchup part one: user centred ketchup experience

4 min read

sometimes this blog talks about food: deal with it.

me and martha got in a discussion about ketchup following eating some excellent eggs and talking about how we…don’t actually like ketchup(I’m team mayo, ideally with garlic, she’s a heathen who likes barbecue sauce). And, after falling down a rabbit hole(">here’s a good place to start), opening far too many serious eats tabs, and reading the opinions of two rabbis on the subject, I’m going to make some ketchup. This may be influenced by us having run out of tea this morning and coming out of breakfast overcaffinated from coffee. If you ended up reading the article above, you’ll know that there’s pretty much already a perfect generic ketchup- heinz has created the idea of ketchup so much that the taste of other brands simply doesn’t taste of ketchup, and they’re(thus far) impossible to outcompete. That’s ok. We’re not trying to do that. We’re trying to make a ketchup that works for us, and the london hipster fucks that make up our friends.

The first question then, is, where is it used? what does it need to work with, and why doesn’t ketchup work well for us at the moment.

First off, foods we’re looking to eat the ketchup with:

  • eggs
  • chips
  • fried chicken
  • burgers(and other cheap simple fried red meat)

and why doesn’t it work for that at the moment

  • ketchup is simple
  • ketchup is really bland
  • the tastes are barley seperatable- it has a single taste built out of lots of flavors, not one that’s seperatable.
  • (in the same vein)it all happens at once- there’s one moment of taste, and then there’s aftertaste.
  • It doesn’t taste of tomato.
  • it has nowhere near enough garlic in it

We’re looking for a complex condiment to work with simple tastes for the most part(eggs, chips, and beef patties) and which works and contrasts with more complex flavours- bringing some freshness and fruitiness to chicken, and the same to burgers. basically- a one size fits all condiment for cheap/spoonless food, when we’re not making a sauce specifically for the purpose.

Fixing the simplicity of ketchup is obviously what’s on the table, and it’s safe to say we’ll be adding a fair bit more spice to it to combat the blandness- probably some fresh and/or dried peppers, not peppercorns, because we’re going for fruity.

separating flavours is the way we increase complexity- we’ll probably not stew the whole lot together, as most ketchups do, which brings the flavours together and means there’s only one phase to the taste- a stewed base is a given, but there’s probably going to be some fresher in the front too.

Fresh tomato up front, and working with a different base(people almost universally use pre made tomato paste, I think we’ll use at least two different mixes from two different points, and one of them being very fresh added towards the end should give us some of the actual tomato taste that’s missing from ketchup.

anyway, that’s a place to start. It’s also 500 words, I wish I could get this done on my essays this fast. Next episode: historical influences of ketchup, other cultures we’ll end up stealing stuff from to get the effects we want, and a provisional recipe.