Grape Catchup

May 8, 2009(updated on August 30, 2021)

clean grapes

I have something of a problem when it comes to vintage cookbooks. I can’t walk by a used bookstore or thrift store without stopping in to scan for some interesting new title. Some I buy just for their kitsch factor, but I find that many older cookbooks I pick up haven’t lost their utility to age and have quite a lot to offer, particularly for a girl who’s interesting in reviving the waning art of canning.

One of my favorite volumes is the New York Times Heritage Cookbook. It was originally published in 1972 and was written by long-time NYT food writer Jean Hewitt (she also wrote the New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, which was a staple of my childhood). It’s an unembellished book, but it manages to capture the many distinct faces of regional food that were once present in this country (fast food, national grocery brands and TV have homogenized us in so many ways).

5~ cups grapes

I pulled it off the shelf a couple of nights ago, in my search for pickled lime recipes. While it didn’t yield any helpful recipes in that direction, I discovered a very intriguing recipe for something called Grape Catchup (yes, spelled just like that) in the Mountain/Northern Plains section (the book is organized by region of the country). It seemed both easy, calling for nothing more than grapes, apple cider vinegar, sugar and spices, and strangely appealing.

I made it last night, filling the apartment with the pungent smell of hot, fruity vinegar (sounds like the name of a band made up of pickle makers). What came out was a really tangy, sweet/sour condiment that would make a great dipping sauce (I also think it would be amazing on baked chicken or roasted pork – oh god, a pulled pork sandwich with this instead of bbq sauce would be amazing). It has sort of a runny consistency, as the recipe doesn’t call for any pectin or thickener beyond the grape skins (which do contain some natural pectins).

Grape Catchup

Being that I now have four pints of this grape catchup in seven separate jars, I’m giving away two half-pint jars to a couple of lucky readers. If you want to try this tasty condiment that you absolutely won’t be able to find on your grocery store shelves, leave a comment by Sunday at 5 pm. And, if you want to make a batch yourself, the recipe is after the jump.

3 from 2 votes

Grape Catchup


  • 6 cups of red grapes I used conventional, seedless grapes to make this recipe. However, it did originally call for wild grapes with seeds. If you use that style of grape, you will need to remove the seeds prior to cooking.
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cloves


  • In a large pot, combine the grapes, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the temperature so that it’s at a bare simmer and let cook for 30 minutes. When the cooking time has elapsed, check on the grapes and if there are some that have not broken down, smash them against the side of pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the spices and cook for another ten minutes. The mixture will be a dark purple color and syrupy.
  • Ladle the catchup into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Store in a dark, cool place.


Adapted from "The New York Times Heritage Cookbook" by Jean Hewitt

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55 thoughts on "Grape Catchup"

  • My grandmother used to make this when I was a kid and use it on grilled chicken. I would love the chance to try it again. I could never find her recipe.

    Aaron, I’m so happy to be bringing back memories for you! Sounds like a homemade batch of grape catchup should be in your future! -Marisa

  • I think that using seeded grapes would probably result in a thickened catchup, because the skins tend to be more substantial. That said, this recipe sounds delicious!

    Liz, you’re probably right. If I can get my hands on some seeded grapes this summer, I might make this one again. -Marisa

  • OMG…I love trying all different flavors of condiments…especially ketchups and mustards…I probably have at least 10 different mustards in my fridge…LOL! Would love to try this ketchup!

    Stephanie, I do think you’d like this one (and it’s a super easy recipe for beginners). -Marisa

  • Oooh this sounds awesome. My fiance is obsessed with ketchup, so I’d love to surprise him with this—something a little different!

    Mel, this would definitely be a good one for the ketchup obsessed. -Marisa

  • I’m thinking…baby greens, grilled chicken breast, a few small chunks of sharp white cheddar, mushrooms and some dried cranberries- all topped with a vinagrette made with this grape catchup and some excellent extra virgin olive oil. And now I’m hungry.

    Michelle, you managed to make me hungry as well! -Marisa

  • Very interesting and tasty sounding! I have always passed up cookbooks at antique stores and such because they tend to mainly be ones where every recipe contains “cream of something” soup, and that kind of grosses me out. I will have to start checking them out again with new eyes.

    Tara, I agree that some of those older cookbooks are unredeemingly awful. However, there are some that offer wonderful, reasonable, down-to-earth food that make them well worth the couple of bucks that they cost. All the older NYT cookbooks are terrific, as are the More-With-Less volumes. -Marisa

  • I am also intrigued…my “no cook” dinner of this week is rice with a fried egg and hoisin sauce on top…this would be very tasty.

  • My ‘Pickles And Relishes’ booklet from Agriculture Canada 1982 is one of my favourites. The old cookbooks are gems.
    I still have a big bag of concord grapes in the freezer from last summer…maybe they will become catchup!

    Mary, that sounds like a wonderful cookbooklet. I haven’t delved into relishes yet, but they’re on my list for this summer. Do you have any favorites? -Marisa

  • You are like a little jam making/ canning machine 🙂 You make it seem sooo simple. I need to build up some courage and try canning. Hopefully, I won’t make anyone sick- Do you have any suggestions for newbies (books, websites, small-batch recipes)???

    Tea Kay, the thing about canning is that it actually is simple. I’ve been meaning to put together a sidebar of resources, I’ll try to do it this weekend. -Marisa

  • Not only am I quite curious about the grape catchup, I now also want to get my hands on the New York Times Heritage Cookbook. I’m wondering how the grape catchup would work with some of our local Georgia grapes like muscadines and scuppernongs. I’ll have to try it out this summer.

    Jennifer, the NYT Heritage Cookbook is definitely worth owning. It was reissued in the 1990’s, so there are plenty of inexpensive copies out there to be had. And, I think that this catchup would be *amazing* with local, less commercial grapes. I bet the would lend deeper flavor and, as Liz suggested earlier, they would probably make it gel better. The one problem with using those grapes would be deseeding without losing the skins. However, I’m certain it could be done, as those are the grapes that the recipe was originally written for. -Marisa

  • I am so interested. I think if you add some red pepper flakes or some other heat it would be good on a stir fry. Thoughts?

  • Chili sauce is my favourite annual relish, but maybe that’s a Canadian thing.
    If you want to use grapes with seeds, it’s fiddly but I’ve done it for concord grape jam which is delicious. Wash grapes, squeeze each one to separate skins from pulp and seeds. Simmer pulp and seeds for a bit to soften then strain to remove seeds. Add skins back to pulp and continue with recipe.

  • I would love yo try this on the Trader Joe’s Masala burgers we have in the freezer! I would never think to try making this myself!

  • That’s a new one for me, Marisa, and I would love to try it on grilled chicken or salmon.

    And I love the unusual products you force me to research!

  • I don’t understand the use of the word “problem” in this context. 🙂

    I was wondering what type of grapes the original recipe called for until I got to the end of the post. Wild grape around here are all skin (and tough skin at that) and seeds – not way to remove the seeds easily. But, what flavor! I make an extraordinary deep-purple and intensely perfumed jelly from it. To get rid of the seeds, I cook the grape with a tiny bit of water and then pass the whole ting through a jelly bag. I probably would do the same for that catchup. Sound very intriguing. Thank you.

  • wow, i can’t imagine seeding that many grapes. i would love to just try this instead 😉

  • I’ve seen fruity catsup’s before in old cookbooks. This definitely looks intriguing!

    Kickpleat, don’t you just love those old cookbooks! Such a wealth of interesting ideas. -Marisa

  • That sounds delicious! I originally got into canning in order to use up the large harvest of concord grapes we had one year. Sadly, we no longer live there, but I think concords would work well for this recipe.

    Marisa, I think concords would be wonderful in this recipe. I must admit, my conventional seedless grapes don’t pack quite the flavor punch that a homegrown concord has. -Marisa

  • I recently bought some red grapes, but when I got them home I was disappointed to discover that they were rather sour. I thought I might try making this with them. Do you have any advice in terms of adding pectin to make it thicken a bit better? I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  • Just got done seeding 6 cups of homegrown purple grapes (courtesy of my dear aunt and uncle, who’ve got their own mini-farmstead going). 1 1/2 hours later – I think I should have started with clean, spiderless, maggotless, seedless grapes. I’ll still be trying to make this recipe – tomorrow night. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  • My catsup turned out similarly less “set” than I hoped, but pretty tasty – like a cross between cranberry sauce and watermelon pickles. I have a few family members who will love this unexpected treat!

  • I made this today for my first “real” canning project. I used whole cloves in a cheesecloth bag, because I wasn’t really sure whether or not they were supposed to be ground and I didn’t want to have to strain the “catchup” if I didn’t have to. My grapes also didn’t break down all that much, so I used an immersion blender to smooth everything out.

    Despite the hiccups, all was well. The end product (a little less than four pints) is actually about the consistency of tomato ketchup. We had it on toasted bread with mozzarella along with an arugula salad with grapes in it. I’m also curious about how it would do in a vinaigrette….

  • Wish I would have stumbled on this earlier & been able to get into the drawing. Oh well. I will just have to try to make this myself. I love making jams and jellies. Especially those with unique & different flavors. I just bought a bunch of red seedless grapes at the store b/c they were on sale & was planning on making grape jelly but, didn’t want to do just plain jelly. Might just have to try this recipe out. I have lots of free time on my hands this week & planned on doing lots of canning since my mother was up visiting & I don’t have to work as much this week, I work part-time at night.

  • Made a batch of this after I stumbled across the recipe on your site a few months ago. I finally put a pint of it to use yesterday at my daughters first birthday. For one of the dishes we deep fried a turkey, and made pulled turkey sandwiches, half with a traditional bbq sauce with a ketchup/bourbon base, and half with the grape catchup. It was absolutely delicious, on a sandwich with coleslaw, a very unique taste.

    Got me thinking that a cranberry catchup recipe might also be nice.

    Thanks for posting this!

  • Started this too late last night. I used #17 Mary’s technique on the “wild” (abandoned) concord grapes I picked. Unfortunately, my plans were derailed when I chewed up my cellphone in the garbage disposal (freak accident). Midnight and rattled is not a good time to fire up the boiling water canner, so I dumped the whole thing in a slow cooker and went to bed. The sauce lost its pretty purple overnight, but it is thick, and has a nice complex and rich, almost carmelized flavor. I’ll put it in jars, and make another batch this weekend per recipe to compare.

  • Just finished making 10 pints w/my concords. Thank you so much – I have so many grapes that I always like finding old/new things to do with them. I too, wish I would have read #17 Mary’s advice on how to de-seed. I picked plums yesterday and that is always the way I de-pit so duh…boo me. Anyhow I added plums to 2 of the pints, for a little added pucker. My plan is to take the above suggestions of basting on a chicken breast, using as the sauce for pulled pork, adding virgin olive for a grape vinagrette on spinach leaves and also drizzles to a shrimp stirfry w/chinese peas and slivered almonds, a dip for egg rolls, and I’m thinking slow cooked over a pork roast. Okay…now I’m getting on the treadmill before those thoughts make a balloon outta me.

  • I was browsing your recipes after my husband told me about your blog about a month ago. This grape catchup sounded very interesting to me. I haven’t made it yet, but when I was at a local library booksale I happened to see The New York Times Heritage Cookbook and had to pick it up. How could I pass it up for $1 with recipes like this in it? Thanks for the recipe and the chance to explore a great cookbook.

  • I have a recipe for a concord grape pie that calls for popping the pulp out of skins, cooking the pulp, passing the cooked pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds, and then returning the skins to the mixture. If I were to make this ketchup, I’d probably do something similar.

  • I made this today, only I had 9 cups of grapes to use up so I did 1.5 times the recipe. It took 2.5 hours to reach the thickened consistency. I used my immersion blender to make it smooth right in the pot about halfway through. Also, I used the recipe in the book which is a little different from this one, but I got 9 half-pint jars out of it (right on target, since I did 1.5 times the batch) and just enough to smear on some Saltines for a taste test. Ohhh mercy, is this stuff amazing! I will definitely be trying it on meatballs (with a little chili sauce, but not much–there’s a nice kick to the book version of this stuff 😉 ), sweet potato fries, triple creme cheese and crackers, etc. If you end up with a large amount of grapes you know you won’t get to eating in time, definitely make this!

  • My great-grandmother’s recipe for Grape Catsup is very similar. Except it uses all-spice as well and slightly different measurements. My grandmother always served as a sauce we could use on homemade mac ‘n cheese. My mom won’t eat her mac ‘n cheese any other way! 😉 And we cook down the wild concord grapes and then put them through a food mill to remove skins and seeds. Easy!

  • I would think if you have a Squeezo this would be simple and quick to make! When concord grapes are ready here I may have to try this!

  • I made this last night for an upcoming burger night. It tastes SO wonderful, but was a little thin (we’ll see if it sets today). I’m curious your thoughts on how to get it to thicken. Maybe I didn’t cook it long or hot enough…

  • Hello! I see that I am several years too late, but wanted to say hi. I came across this post while searching for a grape ketchup recipe – I was introduced to it in the 1990s in southwest Ontario, Canada. I am also someone who’s reviving the art of canning, thanks for sharing the recipe. Love the grape ketchup!

  • I made this with 4 cups seeded concord grapes and 2 cups Thompson seedless grapes. Seeding the concords was tedious! After cooking for 30 minutes, I pureed it with a hand blender and sieved to catch any seeds. I cooked the mixture down for 30 more minutes, and ended up with just over 8 cups. I also added 1/4 tsp of cardamom to the spices. It came out great!

  • I made this over the weekend and had 5 pints of catchup. Only 4 fit in my canner, so I used the last pint to make pulled pork in the style of my mother’s coke roast recipe. I substituted the catchup for the coke.

    For the roast, I used 1 pork loin roast, 1 pint grape catchup, and 1 packet lipton onion soup powder in the crockpot until the roast was done. The result was delicious.

  • Hello! I am about to go pick champagne grapes. I understand they are sweeter than other varieties. Wondering if the sugar is needed in this recipe for safety, or if it could be reduced/eliminated? Thanks!

  • I know this post is more than a few years old, but just wanted to say thanks for it! Bought a box of Concord grapes this week and I got tired of making jam and jelly, wanted to try something new. I’ll be making this today, hoping that I can strain the mixture at the end since I don’t have a food mill right now.

  • I dreamt last night that there was such a thing as grape ketchup. So I Googled it. My son is allergic to tomatoes and loved ketchup on everything. I have an arbor full of grapes. What a find!

  • My mother’s family is from western N.Y. and her mother did tons of canning. Grape catchup and corn relish were among the favorites. In the Rochester area is a product “white hots pop open hot dogs. This is a take on brats with a natural casing and this grape catchup is the cat’s meow with these hot dogs. I’ve tried the old family recipe that my grandmother used and it is excellent on pork chops/loin also, her recipe calls for concord grapes.

    Thanks for the recipe

  • I love the idea of using grapes in recipes. They are very affordable and like apples, are always available. I did adjust the recipe. I mashed the grapes then measured out the 6 cups, I cut the sugar and vinegar in half, Cinnamon I used 2 teaspoons and 1/4 teaspoon of cloves. Three weeks after canning I tested the pH and it was just under 4.1 so very safe for water bath canning. Next time I’ll use Allspice rather than cinnamon. I can also see cutting the sugar down more and making a more savory ketchup maybe with cardamon.

  • 1 star
    The batch I made (& subseq jarred) never got thick. Recipe says “purple & syrupy” after heating per instr. Mine stayed in liquid form even after jarring (with some refrigerated. Never got syrupy while cooking. Used whole cloves rather than ground but that should t effect syrup texture. Where did I go wrong? I’ve clearly got to start over

    1. I’m sorry to hear that it never got sufficiently thick. The grapes you used could have had a higher water content, requiring a longer cooking time. I’ve also found that this recipe is better made with seeded grapes like Concord (simmer and press through a food mill before adding to the rest of the ingredients), as some table grapes don’t have enough pectin to thicken well.