Amanda Stone: Ketchup packet shortage won't last long

astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·3 min read

Apr. 20—If you've been following the news, then you already know about the condiment catastrophe sweeping the nation. We are in the throes of the great ketchup crisis of 2021.

Ketchup packets, or "sachets" as they're called in the biz, are in short supply and, like many of the bummers of the past year, it can be blamed on COVID-19. A year of takeout and delivery food has taken its toll on the ketchup industry. It is struggling to ... catch up.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel for America's favorite condiment. There is not a shortage of ketchup itself but just of the individual packets. Diehard ketchup fans can do their part in this time of rationing by using the bottle of ketchup in their fridge. Though inconvenient, we must do our part in the single-serve ketchup effort.

The packets will be back. Kraft Heinz has the retail ketchup market cornered, and it has a plan to up production by 25%.

In the meantime, fashion a cozy or holster to keep your ketchup bottle at the ready in the event your food does not come with packets. Better yet, start making your own ketchup and packaging it in small, plastic rectangles with a vacuum sealer. Then you can share your homemade sachets with like-minded ketchup-lovers.

If you love ketchup, try these recipes. I'm going to stick with mustard.

Seriously good homemade ketchup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice

2 to 5 tablespoons brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like your ketchup

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat oil over medium heat then add onions and cook until they are softened, sweet and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and allspice, then cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until it turns from red to a burnt orange color, about 2 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes with juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, cider vinegar, a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir and then taste, adding more sugar if desired.

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and shiny, about 20 minutes. Taste, then adjust with more sugar, salt or pepper.

Blend until smooth, let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate up to one month.

Recipe adapted from www.inspiredtaste.net

Stir-fried chicken with ketchup

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, preferably dark meat, in 1/2- to 1-inch chunks

1/2 cup flour, more as needed

4 tablespoons neutral oil, such as corn or canola

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons slivered garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 cup ketchup

Toss chicken with flour so that it is lightly dusted. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to high.

When oil smokes, add chicken in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. When chicken browns on one side, toss it and cook until just about done: Smaller pieces will take 5 minutes total, larger pieces about 10. Remove to a plate.

Turn off heat and let pan cool for a moment. Add remaining oil to pan and turn heat to medium high. Add garlic and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup and stir; cook until ketchup bubbles then darkens slightly.

Return chicken to pan and stir to coat with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.

Recipe source: www.cooking.nytimes.com

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.