Catching up with catchup

Masterchef’s foray into cockle ketchup reminded me of a number of recipes for varieties of this condiment in manuscript recipe books. I haven’t actually seen one using cockles, but I can offer this one with oysters (although rather extravagant at today’s prices):

Take one hundred of oysters the largest you can get, with all their liquor, ½ pd of anchovies, three pints of white wine, 1 lemon sliced, with half the peel, let this boil half an hour, & then strain it thro’ muslin, add of cloves & mace ¼ of an ounce of each & one sliced nutmeg, boil it ¼ of an hour & then add two ounces of shallots, when cold bottle it, with the spice & shallots. (F76/A/33, Dunne family of Gatley Park, Herefordshire Record Office, 18th century)

Or you might want to try walnuts – only half a hundred this time:

Take walnuts when fit for pickling, beat them to a pulp & squeeze the juice. Let it stand to settle one day, then pour off the clear & to every pint of juice put a pound of anchovies, & an ounce of sharlots. Sett it over the fire till all the anchovies are dissolved, then strain it off & to a quart put a quarter of an ounce of mace ditto of cloves, ditto of Jamaica pepper; & half a pint of white wine vinegar. Boil all these together a quarter of an hour, & when cold bottle it, putting the spice into your bottles as equal as you can. A very small quantity will do in any hash. For fish sauce it must be quite clear; it will keep good two years.

N.B. Half an hundred of walnuts will make a quart of juice if properly beaten & prest. (D1928/Z2, Gloucestershire Archives, 18th century)

The first known printed recipe was in Eliza Smith’s Compleat Housewife, first published in 1727:


There are more mushrooms in this variety from the Heppington Receipts (MS 7999, © Wellcome Collection, 18th-19th century):


And finally, tomato ketchup – or rather, tomata catchup. Also known as love apples, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous so weren’t used in cooking until the 19th century, but this has since become the best-known flavour of ketchup, courtesy of HJ Heinz (whose recipe is, of course, a trade secret):

Take the tomatas when quite ripe, mash them with salt & let them stand two days, strain & press them hard thro’ a cloth. Set them on the fire & take the scum off as it rises. Then add some cloves, mace, nutmeg, ginger & whole peppers with 3 or 4 cloves of garlic. Boil 20 minutes – let it stand till cold then bottle it. (D3549/37/1/5 Gloucestershire Archives, Sebright/Fenwick family, early 19th century)

That one looks pretty straightforward, so I may just have to try it!


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