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Ketchup or Catsup?

There is no difference between ketchup or catsup, because they both refer to the condiment that is always paired with French fries. But do you know what’s in your ketchup/catsup and why there are two spellings?

The Different Faces of Catsup
This condiment was introduced to Europe in the 17th century by the traders as “catchup” and was later spelled as “ketchup.” It comes from the Malay word “kehap” and the Cantonese name “k’e chap” that describe the fish sauce made from fish guts that were fermented or the brined/pickled shellfish or fish with herbs and spices. Others used to spell catsup as “ke-chiap,” “kecap,” and “ketjap.”

Tomatoes, which are now considered the main ingredient of catsup, was not added until the 19th century. There was a book published 1727 that included the following ingredients in ketchup: cloves, mace, ginger, pepper, lemon peel, nutmeg, white wine, vinegar, anchovies, and shallots. In the United States, tomato-based ketchup was introduced in the 1800s.

The Ingredients of a Ketchup
The kind of ketchup which we usually associate the word nowadays contains tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sweeteners, and flavorings. The tomatoes are washed and chopped before they are pre-cooked or scaled in vats to remove the bacteria. Then the tomatoes are pulped to separate the stem, skin and seeds. Next, the juice and pulp are filtered to create a paste. The paste is then cooked and the other ingredients are added. Finally, the ketchup is filtered and then milled to attain a smooth consistency.

The most commonly used vinegar is the white 100-grain distilled vinegar to make the ketchup last longer. Sweeteners are made from granulated cane sugar, beet sugar, and liquid sugar or dextrose from glucose or corn syrup. The flavorings are made of spices such as cassia, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, pepper, mustard, ginger, and paprika.

The flavor will also vary based on the ratio of the tomato juice to the sugar and spices, as well as the variety of tomato used.

The Meal Condiment and Ingredient
Today, ketchup is used as a meal condiment or as an ingredient in different recipes. While the traditional recipe is made up of mushrooms, egg whites, mussels, oysters and walnuts, the most common ketchup, however, is tomato-based and includes other ingredients such as vinegar, sweetener and spices. There are also ketchups made from walnut, mushroom, mango, and banana. In some countries, tomato ketchup is considered tomato sauce, but that creates a confusion because tomato sauce in other countries in Asia is not used as a condiment.

Tomato ketchup tastes tangy and sweet because of the added vinegar, seasonings and sweetener. Some of the seasonings used are onion, coriander, allspice, cloves, garlic, cumin, celery, mustard, ginger, and cinnamon. It is used as a condiment to French fries, sandwiches, hotdogs, and hamburgers. It is also used for dressings, sauces, and as an additive flavoring.