Mushroom Catsup 2.500

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Jul 13, 2011

This is one of several early American ketchups offered at Jose Andres's America Eats Tavern, served with steaks and burgers. It contains no tomato, and its consistency is much closer to that of a thin sauce than to the thick, tomato-based condiment of modern times.

The recipe calls for several pounds of whole cremini mushrooms, which makes it an expensive DIY project; we recommend using the fresh ones available at farmers markets.

Make Ahead: The cleaned, drained mushrooms need to be refrigerated for 2 hours to dry them out.

Servings: 2.5 cups
  • 7 1/2 pounds whole cremini mushrooms (see headnote)
  • Cold water, plus 2 1/2 cups room-temperature water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large unpeeled cloves garlic
  • 2 whole cloves


Line two or three baking sheets with several layers of paper towels.

Divide the mushrooms between two very large, deep bowls, then add just enough cold water to cover. Move the mushrooms around with your hand to dislodge any dirt. Let the mushrooms sit in the water for no more than 5 minutes; if they soak longer, the mushrooms will absorb too much moisture and lose some flavor.

Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the mushrooms to the lined baking sheets. Pat the tops dry with more paper towels. Refrigerate uncovered for about 2 hours, so the mushrooms can dry.

Stem the cleaned, dried mushrooms; reserve the stems for another use, if desired.

Have two very large, wide pots at hand. Use enough of the stemmed mushrooms to create a single layer in the each of the pots. Lightly sprinkle with some of the salt. Repeat to use all of the mushrooms and salt, dividing them between the pots. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining (total) 2 1/2 cups of water to the mushrooms, dividing it as needed between the pots. Place the pots over medium-high heat. Use a potato masher to crush the mushrooms until you can see the level of liquid among the mushroom chunks. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.

Working in small batches, strain all of the mushroom mixture through a fine-mesh strainer (or a large strainer lined with cheesecloth) into a separate large saucepan, pushing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the remaining pulp. You'll have about 7 1/2 cups of liquid.

Add the garlic and cloves to the saucepan; place over medium-high heat and cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until the liquid has been reduced by about two-thirds. The catsup should just coat the back of a spoon. It should taste a little salty and have a strong mushroom flavor and aroma.

Strain in small batches through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl nestled inside a larger bowl filled with ice. Discard the solids.

When the catsup has cooled, cover and refrigerate for several days before serving. It can be refrigerated for up to several weeks.

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Recipe Source

Based on a recipe from Catherine Beecher's "Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book" (1846).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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