I always enjoy a condiment tasting. A couple years back I did a tasting of all my favorite fast food condiments, probably one of the 10 most popular posts I've ever done. That inspired a tasting of hot sauces. Just a few weeks ago I tasted ten Carolina-style barbecue sauces.
And now we've come to ketchup. Ketchup is not one of my favorite condiments. I am much more likely to use mustard, more likely hot sauce, and slightly more likely mayonnaise. For years, I did not use ketchup on anything except eggs.
And then I discovered Sir Kensington's, and I started adding ketchup to things with more frequency. The other day I bought a "Country Ketchup" at Whole Foods and thought it was quite tasty, too. So the idea to do a ketchup tasting was born. I rounded up a few more bottles, fried up some crinkle-cut fries, and began.
DULCET PEPPERY MOROCCAN KETCHUP
I liked the grainy texture - it reminded me of the cheaper ketchup I used to slather on my fries every Friday in high school (when the Junior class sold burgers and fries for a prom fundraiser). I've tried to find that ketchup for years - I imagine it was a cheap, restaurant-supply ketchup - though I admit I probably wouldn't enjoy it were I to try it now. Anyway, I loved the texture of that ketchup and I loved the texture of this.
FIRST FIELD JERSEY KETCHUP
The first taste was not good, a slightly acrid, intensely tomato-flavored bite reminding me of stale brown sugar. But I could not believe that is how this ketchup is supposed to taste, so I left it alone for ten minutes before returning to it. The flavor mellowed considerably. This actually ended up being the first ramekin of ketchup that I finished.
My only complaint (after the initial taste) is that First Field is sweeter than I would like. It would be great if they were to offer a spicier version like Sir Kensington's does.
SIR KENSINGTON'S GOURMET SCOOPING KETCHUP
If I were only allowed to eat one of these ketchups for the rest of my life, it would be Sir Kensington's. I love the mellow sweetness of the tomatoes, the tang of the apple cider vinegar, and the not-too-strong-but-enough-to-know-it's-there bite of the jalapeños in the Spiced version.
GRANNY'S SECRET COUNTRY KETCHUP
Okay, maybe not huge, maybe it's just marinko, but still. So I bought it. At first taste there was a flavor I could just not place. And I still can't. But within a few seconds I had forgotten about it, as a noticeable heat crept up. I tasted garlic and oregano and the pepper, possibly white. This was the spiciest of the ketchups I tried, and that is definitely a good thing.
The label says something curious: "After opening keep refrigerated 2 two days max." How literal do you think this is? It's been three days since I tried it; will it kill me? Was it really able to survive the trip from Serbia and sit on the store shelf at room temperature for who knows how long, but has expired in the 60 refrigerated hours since I opened it? I guess we'll see.
SCHLOTTERBECK & FOSS COUNTRY KETCHUP
Like I said, not bad at all, but I will probably use the rest of this to make a cocktail sauce or chili; I will not be using it as a ketchup.
DEAN & DELUCA ROASTED ONION KETCHUP
This looks like it's going to be the bottle that disappears the fastest, as my breakfast the last two days has been egg whites scrambled with wild boar sausage and healthy deluge of this ketchup.
HEINZ DIP & SQUEEZEJudgment of Pasadena we did a couple years ago, when the $3.99 bottle of Blue Fin Pinot from Trader Joe's won.)
Well, it didn't win. It was probably my least favorite of all of these. That's not exactly fair, though. These are all made in relatively small batches; Heinz is mega-produced and full of sugar. (I still didn't mind it, however. I grew up on Heinz ketchup and, though I have no brand loyalty to it these days, I have nothing bad to say about it.)
You probably noticed I didn't do any numerical ratings and I'm not going to be ranking these in any kind of order. Unlike most of my other condiment tastings, there are no ketchups here about which I will claim "I'm never buying this again." I didn't hate any of them. I can't say for certain that I will buy any of them again except for Sir Kensington's, but I probably could have guessed that even before the tasting began.
I hope you enjoyed this and I hope you have a good weekend. I'm off to California in a few days for two weeks - I have a wedding to attend, a job to do, the birthdays of two of my favorite people in the world to celebrate, and March Madness to watch. I will try to put up some posts but don't know if I will get around to it every day.