The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.52
SPRING2017

Mushroom ketchup.

Makes one pint

Many recipes posted by britishfoodinamerica call for mushroom ketchup. It is one of the most classic of British condiments. Commercial brands make in the UK are good but hard to find in the United States, where they also tend to be overpriced. While you can substitute Worcestershire or soy sauce, the flavor is not quite the same, so here is a recipe for homemade mushroom ketchup. This reasonably sane process produces an excellent ketchup. It is adapted from a recipe by Bill Neal from Southern Cooking .


  • Ketchup.jpg
    Not this kind.

    1 ½ lb thinly sliced mushrooms
  • about 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 oz dried morels, porcini or cepes
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • a generous Tablespoon of coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup malt or cider

  1. Layer the sliced mushrooms in a nonreactive pot (ceramic, stoneware, Le Creuset), generously salting each layer. Cover the pot and leave it in a cool place for six hours.
  2. Put everything else but the vinegar in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour.
  3. Add the salted mushrooms bring the ketchup to a rolling boil for 15 minutes
  4. Pass the ketchup through a wire screened strainer and throw away the solids.
  5. Add the vinegar and reboil the ketchup for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Strain the ketchup again, through several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter, then bottle (or jar) your ketchup.

Notes :

- If you use a coffee filter to strain the ketchup, it could take some time but the ketchup will turn out clearer.

- Americans equate ketchup with tomato but its traditional reach is broad. According to the OED , ketchup is “almost any salty extract of fish, shellfish, fruits, vegetables, or mushrooms.

- Countess Morphy includes no less than six variations on mushroom ketchup, but all of them use the same basic technique as the Neal recipe with some adjustments to the seasoning or flavoring, except for Dr. Kitchener’s version, which she quotes verbatim . He salts the mushrooms for two days, add an ounce of whole black peppercorns for each quart of the hydrated mushrooms and boils the mash in a covered pot for two hours before straining it (“without squeezing the mushrooms”) and then gently boiling the resulting liquid uncovered for half an hour before skimming it and leaving it in a covered jar for another day. Finally, he strains again, this time through cheesecloth (or, better if not Georgian, use a coffee filter), adds a Tablespoon of brandy per pint of ketchup, leaves it covered again for a second (or overall, fourth) day and carefully bottles it without disturbing any sediment that has settled in the ageing jar.

- Dr. Kitchener recommends rinsing the bottles with brandy or other spirits. He also advises his reader to reduce the amount of liquid by half at the second boil instead of simmering it for half an hour. In an irresistible passage the doctor explains that “it may then be called Double Cat-Sup or Dog-sup” to satisfy “those who are for Superlative Catsup”. Actually a good recipe, from The Cook’s Oracle (London 1823).