I thought ketchup would be a good subject for The Taste Test because it’s one of those products where there is a clear brand leader. Most people are probably accustomed to just habitually buying Heinz and paying more money for it, me included. But I suspected that this would be one of these tests where, actually, the cheaper own brands had a lot to offer. Read on to see if I was right…

I can actually take or leave ketchup.  I know some people are completely evangelical about it and eat it on everything, but I have no strong feelings. It’s alright on chips. I can live without it. Do any of your guys have an obsessive love for a particular condiment? Please don’t shun me, ketchup-lovers.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of ketchup or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which who had made product A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Tomato Ketchup

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Ketchup
per 100g
£
kcal
fat
carb
fibre
protein
salt
Sainsbury’s
0.13
95
0.5
19.9
2.3
1.9
0.97
Heinz
0.33
102
0.1
23.2
1.2
1.8
Essential Waitrose
0.13
103
0.2
23.4
1.4
1.2
1.45
Aldi Bramwell
0.08
108
1.0
23
1.2
1.3
1.7
Wilkin & Sons
0.69
182
0
41
1.5
1.2
Tesco
0.16
110
0.4
23.6
0.9
1.3
1.3

A – Waitrose – 5/10

  • Runny, slides on the spoon, separating a little bit. Smells tomatoey and slightly acidic – how I’d expect classic ketchup to smell. Quite an acidic taste. Tomato flavour is there but tastes a bit tinned.

B – Aldi Bramwell – 5/10

  • Very smooth. A less sharp and distinct smell than A, but a sharpness on taste and not much more than that. A bit too acidic, but not bad. Nondescript.

C – Wilkin and Sons – 8/10

  • Holds its shape well. Smells different to previous samples – not as sharp, more like tomato. Tastes rich and sweet, with a good balance of acidity and a nice texture. More of a tomato sauce taste than classic ketchup.

D – Tesco – 4/10

  • Holds shape well. Smooth and firm. Tastes very sharp – the sharpest sample. Too acidic and vinegary for me.

E – Sainsbury’s – 6/10

  • Smooth and mild. Doesn’t taste particularly sharp, but not dull either. A bit sweeter than some of the other samples – well balanced. Pleasant enough.

F – Heinz – 7/10

  • Tastes the nicest in terms of standard ketchup. Not too sharp or too sweet. Nothing to write home about, but a good example of a classic ketchup that’s well balanced and nice to eat.

Conclusions

Huge amounts of ketchup smell surprisingly nice. I was not expecting it to, but the savoury tomato scent made me hungry.

So, funnily enough, I actually did think that the Heinz ketchup was the nicest of the standard samples. The Wilkin and Sons was my actual favourite, but that was a very different style of product, and would probably be good for different things. If you’re just dunking chips, though, the Sainsbury’s own brand would do the job very well too. It’s worth noting that, gram for gram, Heinz is well over twice as expensive as the Sainsbury’s offering…