Specialty

What's Up with Ketchup

Ketchup is one of the most common of all condiments. It’s a common companion of french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, mac and cheese, and many more. The various forms and phases of ketchup tell an interesting story. Like that ketchup originates from a savory fermented fish sauce called kecap.

Before the tomato rich sauce we all have come to know and love as ketchup hit shelves, popular variations of ketchup were made with mushrooms, oysters, anchovies or walnuts. These ingredients were added to the fish sauce kecap to enhance the flavours. In the Philippines a popular ingredient for ketchup were bananas. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that recipes similar to today’s ketchup began popping up. This means ketchup has accompanied our favorite comfort foods for a very long time. Until very recent the spelling of ketchup was somewhat controversial. Until only a few decades ago, the popular spelling was ‘catsup,’ other previously popular spellings were ‘catchup’  and ‘katchop.’

Today an average of 4 tablespoons of ketchup are consumed along with a regular order of fries. It’s estimated that 80% of Canadian homes have a bottle of ketchup in their refrigerators, even though technically an opened bottle of ketchup will keep in the cupboard.

One of the biggest complexities is the mind games ketchup seems to play with us when trying to get it out of a glass bottle. There’s actually very complex science behind the consistency of ketchup. It’s neither solid nor liquid. Ketchup is a part of a group of solid/liquid hybrids called non-Newtonian fluids. Other non-Newtonian fluids are things like toothpaste, mayonnaise, blood, paint and peanut butter. These fluids, along with ketchup, have thicknesses that vary in the context of force, time and speed. For example the harder you push on a bottle of ketchup, the more thin it becomes. Another way it’s non-Newtonian is that the longer you slowly shake a bottle, it becomes more gradually thin. The best methods to getting ketchup out of a bottle are for one, very forceful smack of the bottom of the bottle, or very long and slow languid shakes.

The best method is to keep the bottle closed, give it a series of short sharp shakes, and let the ketchup flow.

 

Photo Courtesy of Whats Gabby Cooking

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