Tomato Ketchup: Who Invented It?

James Mease created the first documented tomato ketchup recipe in 1812. Mease was a horticulturist and scientist who created the first tomato-based ketchup by combining tomato pulp, brandy, and spices. Tomatoes were dubbed “love apples” by Mease.

Ketchup used to be a fermented Asian fish sauce before Mease’s recipe. The sauce was attempted to be replicated using mushrooms, anchovies, oysters, and walnuts by British travellers. Prior to the arrival of the tomato, ketchup was a thin, dark sauce with a salty, fishy flavour that was extensively used in soups, sauces, and meat. Because of the short tomato growing season, commercial production of tomato ketchup was difficult in the beginning. This caused issues with storing tomato pulp all year, resulting in germs and other impurities showing up in early commercial tomato ketchup.

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Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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