Quick Qatsup

Is it spelled ketchup? Or catsup? Or maybe we should really confuse people and roll with qatsup!

Qatsup is a fun and easy food to spoof: A little fruit, a little vinegar, some flavor notes, and before long you’re deep into the alchemical mysteries of umami. It’s also an easy project to go crazy with, building funkier fruit mixtures and wilder spice combos, steaming up the kitchen late into the night.

This is qatsup for when you need something super-quick. Most everything is off the shelf from most any supermarket, with the possible exception of the sherry vinegar and the tamarind. If you can’t find sherry vinegar, apple cider or red wine vinegar should do fine; sherry cooking wine also works. The tamarind you’ll probably find it in the ethnic aisle of your grocer; it’s used in many cuisines. If you can’t find it there, any Asian or Mexican grocery should have it. And if you aren’t fortunate enough to live near one of those, rehydrate 1/4 cup of raisins or currants and add another 1/4 cup of cranberries.

If you have a little time to plan ahead, add the water to the dried fruit to begin rehydration and reducing cooking time.


  • 2 cups unflavored applesauce (the fewer ingredients, the better)
  • 1 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oz dried cranberries (that’s a scant 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 pound onion, chopped fine (around 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon clove
  • 2 tsp salt


1Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot and bring to heat. Let it simmer until the cranberries and onions are falling-apart soft.

2Remove from heat and allow to cool, then run through a blender, food processor, or food mill until smooth. You can streamline this process by straining the excess liquid out and only processing the chunky bits. CAUTION: very hot liquid in a blender or food processor can expand explosively.

3If canning, return to heat and proceed as your great grandmother might have. Otherwise, store in the fridge, where it should last several months.


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