You say Catsup, I say Ketchup

Although today we think of a red tomato-based concoction, catsup in colonial days was quite different. Wild and dried meat and other dishes were flavored with a catsup made from fruit, mushrooms, and walnuts. Relish and mustard were additional home-made condiments.  Tomatoes didn’t appear in catsup until the 1830s.

I grew up saying and writing “ketchup” rather than “catsup.” Apparently this spelling of the term goes back to 1711, and the former has always been more prevalent in North America (as opposed to the U.K.)

A June 14, 1800 edition of the “United States Oracle,” published in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, noted among a number of foodstuffs, that Catsup” was available for sale.  Earlier editions of New Hampshire newspapers, i.e. March 1, 1796 edition of the New Hampshire Journal (Walpole, New Hampshire), and the March 8, 1796 issues of The Rising Sun (Keene, New Hampshire) deems the same product to be “ketchup.”


The Remick Museum in Tamworth, New Hampshire is offering a “Ketchup, Mustard, & Mayo Workshop” on July 5, 2008 from 10 Am to 12 Noon.  Learn how to prepare two types of ketchup that were commonplace in pre-19th century America–cranberry and cucumber.  Take a trip back in time and leave behind the tomato ketchup.  Learn to make mustard and mayonnaise as well.

The workshop fee is $20.00 and pre-pregistration is required. Materials are include din the fee. The workshop is designed for adults; young people age 16 and older are welcome with an accompanying adult.

The Museum can now take workshop registration over the phone using a credit card. To register, call (603) 323-7591 or (800) 686-6117.

The Remick Museum has many additional events planned, from Traditional Cooking Workshops for Children (August 23), to Hearthside Dinners where guests help to prepare meals using historic recipes and ingredients (July 19, August 16, October 4, November 22, December 13, and December 20). Visit their web site for more information.

Remick Museum is located at 58 Cleveland Road, Tamworth, NH.


There shall thy favorite herbs and plants be found,
The cat-mint there shall shed its sweets around;
The savoury mushroom from the sod shall start,
And to the breeze its catsup sweets impart.”
–Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics, pub. 23 Apr 1825, Portsmouth NH

Catsup Recipe as published in The Farmer’s Cabinet of Amherst, New Hampshire, on 16 September 1852
“To a gallon skinned tomatoes and 4 tablespoons of salt, 4 do. black pepper, half a spoonful allspice, 8 red peppers, and three spoonfuls mustard.  All these ingredients must be found find, and simmered very slowly in sharp vinegar so as to leave half a gallon of liquor when the process is over.  Strain thro’ a wire sieve, and bottle, and seal from the air. This may be used in two weeks, but improves by age, and will keep several years.”

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