Ornamental Separator

English Katchup

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

This is not the ketchup of our time. It isn’t red and it wasn’t meant to be used on post-cooked foods as is tomato ketchup. The word “ketchup” is derived from an Indonesian word for fish sauce. This would be more like a Soy or Worcestershire sauce.

19th Century

Take a wide mouth’d bottle, put therein a pint of the best white-wine vinegar; then put in ten or twelve cloves of eschalot peeled and just bruised; then take a quarter of a pint of the best Langoon white wine, boil it a little, and put to it twelve or fourteen anchovies washed and shred, and dissolve them in the wine, and when cold put them in the bottle; then take a quarter of a pint more of white-wine, and put in it mace, ginger sliced, a few cloves, a spoonful of whole pepper just bruised, let them boil all a little; when near cold, slice in almost a whole nutmeg, and some lemon peel, and likewise put in two or three spoonfuls of horse-radish; then stop it close, and for a week shake it once or twice a day; then use it: ‘Tis good to put into fish sauce, or any savoury dish of meat; you may add to it the clear liquor that comes from mushrooms.

— Smith, Eliza, “The Complete Housewife” 1827.

21st Century


  • A quart bottle with either cork or screw top (dark glass preferable)
  • 1 pint white wine vinegar
  • ½ pint langoon white wine (or any good sweet white wine)
  • 4 shallots about 1 inch in diameter
  • 8 to 10 anchovies (patted well dry with a cloth if they come in tins) chopped or shredded
  • 1 piece of ginger root about an inch or so in diameter and sliced about an inch also
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mace
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 whole nutmeg cut into quarters or smaller
  • grated peel of one lemon
  • 2 or 3 tsp. grated horseradish root
  • (Optional)- 1 Tbsp. sweated liquid of mushrooms and a little salt. This is achieved by cutting up about a dozen cleaned button mushrooms, adding a few shakes from the salt shaker and about a ½ teaspoon of water all in a stew-pan. Gently cook covered on low to medium heat until mushrooms wilt, stirring occasionally, and give up enough moisture to equal a tablespoon. This is a little extra work and will be a subtle addition to the mixture.


  1. Pour the white wine vinegar into the bottle.
  2. With the flat of a knife, bruise the shallots as you do for garlic and add them to the vinegar.
  3. Pour half of your wine into a stew pan, boil it for about a minute, add the anchovies and remove from the heat. Stir until anchovies are dissolved. When cold, pour this into the bottle with the vinegar and shallots.
  4. Pour in the other half of your wine into the pan adding the mace, sliced ginger, cloves and cracked pepper and boil them a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat. When it is close to being cool add the pieced nutmeg, lemon peel and horseradish (and mushroom liquor if desired). Stir again to blend, then add this into the bottle as well. The pieces may need pushed into the bottle with your finger or a spoon handle. Screw on the cap or cork it tight. This mixture will be a cloudy light brown color.
  5. Shake this mixture twice a day for a week or so. Store in the refrigerator if desired.
  6. Use this to enhance dishes of meat or fish sauces.

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Historic Foodways