Historical recipe: one recipe, two products

One of my long time interests is experimenting with historical cooking.

I say experimenting, because it’s not unusual for these recipes to include ingredients that are no longer available, hard to find, unknown or even extinct. Plus, they often don’t include a lot of information, either because it was assumed the reader already understood what was needed, or it was simply technologically impossible for the time period.

Thankfully, that’s not as much of a difficulty for recipes from more recent time periods.

Not too long ago, I discovered a YouTube channel called Townsends, featuring all things 18th century. I highly recommend it! I was intrigued by this video on how to make Mushroom Ketchup.

Yes, you read that correctly! Mushroom. Ketchup.

It sounded both weird and delicious at the same time! 😀

I found the recipe here, and decided to give it a go.

I wasn’t able to follow the recipe exactly, though. One of the ingredients is grated horseradish. We do have lots of horseradish, but the ground is too frozen to dig any up.

So for this first attempt to make mushroom ketchup, I decided to skip the horseradish completely. I intend to try it again later in the year, with the horseradish, and we can decide which version we like best.

Here are the ingredients.

For the mushrooms, I used a combination of white button and crimini mushrooms. The recipe called for 2 pounds, but I have somewhere around 2 1/2-3 pounds. I picked them up in bulk packages at Costco and, of course, our weights are in metric. One kilogram is 2.2 pounds. The white button mushrooms were just over 500 grams, while the crimini were over 600 grams. I didn’t feel fussy enough to measure out exactly 2 pounds, so I just used the whole lot of them.

Along with the mushrooms, there is onion, apple cider vinegar, salt, lemon zest, bay leaves, ground cloves, ground allspice and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

The recipe called for the zest of one lemon, and I chose to use some dried lemon zest I had, rather than zest a fresh lemon, only because I didn’t have anything to use the rest of the lemon in at the time. The recipe itself didn’t actually specify fresh or dried.

The next time I make this, I will also be more diligent about following the instructions.

The recipe called for the mushrooms, salt and bay leaves to be combined and left overnight.

I had mixed the whole lot together before I read the next line, where is said to add the remaining ingredients the next day.


I did read the recipe through before I started. Honest! I did! I still missed it. LOL

I really don’t think it’s an issue, though. All it meant was that the mushrooms got well marinated!

Here, you can see how much liquid the mushrooms released after only 1 hour! That’s the salt in action. 🙂

Because of the time of day I started, I left the mixture to sit for 6 hours, then finished making the ketchup in the evening.

The next step was to transfer the ingredients to a pot and cook for 15 minutes – it could be longer, if I wanted to cook down the liquid. The above photo is how it looked at 15 minutes of simmering.

The old way of doing the next step was to line a bowl with a cloth, dump the cooled mixture into the cloth, then wring all the liquid out.

I used a sieve.

I left the mixture to cool while draining in the sieve until it was cool enough to handle. I also removed the bay leaves.

Mushrooms hold a lot of liquid, and I decided to use a jelly bag to squeeze out as much as I could. The amount you see in the above photo turned out to be too much and, in later batches, I added just a scoopful – less than a cup – at a time. I don’t know that the jelly bag was an improvement over using a cloth. It was pretty hard to squeeze the liquid through.

By the time I was done, I got exactly 3 1/2 cups of mushroom ketchup!

The instructions said to bottle and cord the ketchup, but I transferred it to a jar with an air and liquid tight seal, because that’s what I had handy. Once it was completely cool, I sealed it and put it in the fridge.

The mushroom mixture, however, can still be used!

After squeezing out the liquid, I spread the mixture over parchment paper on a baking tray. As you can see, the mushrooms are still holding a lot of liquid!

The instructions said to dry the mixture in a 200F oven. As I would be heading to bed soon, I heated the oven to 200F, put the tray in, turned the oven off, leaving just the light on for warmth, and let it sit overnight. This is a method I use for dehydrating quite a few different things.

The mushrooms, however, are a lot juicier than most things I dehydrate that way. By morning, they were noticeably darker and smaller, but still very wet. At that point, I set my oven on its lowest temperature, 150F, and left them. Every oven is different and, for mine, 200F would have been a bit too much, I think.

After a few hours, I took them out, broke up any clumps that were stuck together, shuffled them about on the tray, then put the tray back for another hour or two.

This is how they looked, fully dried.

What a difference!

The instructions said they could be used as is, at this stage, or they could be ground into a powder. That’s what I wanted to do, so once they were fully cool, I ground them up in a coffee/spice grinder.

One thing I’ve noticed about grinding mushrooms is that, when the grinder is opened, there is a LOT of mushroom dust drifting out! It looks for all the world like smoke!

The only thing left to do after that was to taste it!

Here is some of the finished mushroom ketchup, and powdered mushroom mixture.

I tasted both on their own, first, and they reminded me a lot of the mushroom salt I had made before. I could definitely taste the spices, too. The dominant flavours, though, are mushroom and salt. I’m sure the horseradish, if I’d included it, would have changed that significantly. The powder tasted more of the spices than the liquid.

I then used both the powder and the liquid to season my supper, with a bit of each on pork, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes. I found I quite liked the flavour it added, and it seemed to work well with all parts of the meal.

It was definitely worth making, and I really look forward to trying it again, with the horseradish included.

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “Historical recipe: one recipe, two products

  1. Pingback: Easter preparations: baking day and frozen ground | The Re-Farmer

  2. Pingback: Recommended: Townsends | The Re-Farmer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s