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Rum & Madeira ketchup

Rum and Madeira ketchup tastes something like a brighter, lighter but nonetheless robust Worcestershire. Of all the ‘lost’ ketchups (and mushroom ketchup abides, at least in the United Kingdom) this one, from an unlikely source, may be the best. It deserves its place in any cook’s larder.

  • Madeira-glass.jpg a generous Tablespoon each of chopped fresh basil, marjoram, parsley and thyme ( see the Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ teaspoons mace
  • 1½ teaspoons black pepper
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • zest of an orange
  • 1 cup vinegar ( see the Notes)
  • ½ cup Rainwater or cheap fake Madeira
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • about a teaspoon of good coarse salt (like Maldon)

  1. Combine all the ingredients but the Madeira and rum in a heavy pot, “cover it, and boil a few minutes until the flavor of the spices, &c. is extracted.” It will not take long; wait only until you smell the herbs and citrus because overboiling will destroy the delicacy of the ketchup.
  2. Let the vinegar mixture cool, then strain it. Whisk the Madeira, rum and salt into the infused vinegar. You do not need to refrigerate this ketchup.


-The ketchup will not be as bright, but you can substitute half the amount of dried for each fresh herb.

-The original recipe does not specify the kind of vinegar to use. Good choices include cane, Champagne, cider or white vinegar.

-Cheap fake Madeira is an excellent choice here, a bit dryer than the real thing. The best of them is produced by Paul Masson.

-The source of the recipe and quotation in the instructions is The Kentucky housewife by Lettice Bryan (Cincinnati 1841).

-The ketchup “is,” as Mrs. Bryan explains, “designed to flavor sauces and gravies; they are sometimes sent to table in castors, and sometimes sent in the small bottles in which they are put up.” The ketchup also may be added to sauces and gravies during the process of cooking them.