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Mushroom ketchup

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Homemade mushroom ketchup in a plastic tub

Mushroom ketchup is a style of ketchup (also spelled "catsup") that is prepared with edible mushrooms as its primary ingredient. Originally, ketchup in the United Kingdom was prepared with mushrooms as a primary ingredient, instead of tomato, the main ingredient in contemporary preparations.

Ingredients and preparation methods

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Edible mushrooms are a primary ingredient in mushroom ketchup


In the United Kingdom, ketchup was historically made with mushroom as a primary ingredient.[1][2][3] The result was sometimes referred to as "mushroom ketchup".[1] In contemporary times, ketchup's primary ingredient is typically tomato.[4] Mushroom ketchup appears to have originated in Great Britain.[5] In the United States, mushroom ketchup dates back to at least 1770 in English-speaking colonies in North America.[5] A manuscript cookbook from Charleston, South Carolina that was written in 1770 by Harriott Pinckney Horry documented a mushroom ketchup that used two egg whites to clarify the mixture.[5] This manuscript also contained a recipe for walnut ketchup.[5] The English Art of Cookery, first published in 1788,[6] has recipes for both mushroom ketchup and walnut ketchup.[5]


The preparation involved packing whole mushrooms into containers with salt, allowing time for the liquid from the mushrooms to fill the container, and then cooking them to a boiling point in an oven.[2] They were finished with spices such as mace, nutmeg and black pepper, and then the liquid was separated from solid matter by straining it.[2] Several species of edible mushrooms are usable in its preparation.[1] Some versions used vinegar as an ingredient.[3] The final product had a dark color that was derived from the mushroom spores that transferred from the mushrooms to the solution.[1] The version in The English Art of Cookery lists dried mushrooms to be used for the ketchup's preparation.[6] This version also uses red wine in the ketchup's preparation, and uses a cooking reduction, in which one-third of the product is reduced, after which the final product is bottled.[6]

British Edible Fungi, published in 1891, states that for optimal results, "mixed fungi should not be used, beyond certain limits..."[1] Per this source, some species of edible mushroom may be mixed together in mushroom ketchup's preparation, but certain species should not be mixed together, and some should not be mixed with others at all.[1] This book also includes a preparation for "double ketchup" that involves reducing mushroom ketchup to half its original state, which doubles its strength through the evaporation of water.[1]


Commercial varieties

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Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup

Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup is a contemporary, commercially mass-produced product that is marketed to consumers.[2] The company was founded in 1830.[2] Contemporary preparation of Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup use mushroom powder as a primary ingredient.[2]

In some instances in the late 19th century in the United States, ketchup sold in towns and labeled as "mushroom ketchup" did not actually contain mushrooms.[1] These products have been described as "easy to detect", and as distinguishable by the use of a microscope.[1]

Use in dishes

In the 19th century, some sauces were prepared using mushroom ketchup, such as "quin sauce".[5]

Use in other condiments

An 1857 recipe for "camp ketchup" uses mushroom ketchup as an ingredient, in addition to beer, white wine, anchovy, shallot, ginger, mace, nutmeg and black pepper.[3] The recipe combined these ingredients and then called for allowing the mixture to sit for fourteen days, after which it was bottled.[3] Additional 1857 recipes for camp ketchup used ingredients such as mushroom ketchup, vinegar, walnut ketchup, anchovy, soy, garlic, cayenne pods and salt.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cooke, Mordecai Cubitt (1891). British Edible Fungi. pp. 201–206. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bell, Annie (June 5, 1999). "Condiments to the chef". The Independent. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Branston, Thomas F. (1857). The hand-book of practical receipts of every-day use. Lindsay & Blakiston. pp. 148–149. 
  4. ^ Bowles, Tom Parker (May 16, 2008). "Killer Ketchup: tracking down the best tomato ketchup". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Andrew F. (1996). Pure Ketchup. Univ of South Carolina Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1570031398. 
  6. ^ a b c Briggs, Richard (1788). The English Art of Cookery, According to the Present Practice. G. G. J. and J. Robinson. pp. 595–596.