Did you know there is an official federal definition of ketchup? Neither did Jesse Huot, co-owner of Grind Gourmet Burger Truck.
Huot had just finished designing the label for Grind’s new bottled Smoked Tomato Ketchup and sent it to the Kentucky Food Safety Branch in Frankfort for approval when he received word that he couldn’t call the sauce ketchup. It didn’t meet the federal definition.
That’s right. There is an official definition of ketchup.
And it did not include jalapeño peppers, which Grind’s ketchup most definitely did.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Section 155.194, ketchup (or if you prefer, catsup) could only have the following combination of ingredients: tomatoes (or tomato concentrate or tomato liquid), vinegar, sweeteners, spices, flavorings, onions, or garlic.
Hearing this news, Huot had to rethink the recipe with his wife and co-owner Liz. Originally, the couple created the ketchup by smoking together the jalapeños along with the tomatoes, onions and garlic. In order to sell their ketchup in groceries they had to think fast. Instead of chopping the peppers into the sauce, the current recipe involves seeding the peppers to remove the heat but keep the flavor, drying them, and crumbling them into the ketchup as an added spice. Huot hopes this bit of quick culinary maneuvering will earn them a thumbs-up from Frankfort so they can focus on production.
Huot has lined up Pops’ Pepper Patch on Burnett Street to produce, bottle and label the smoked ketchup. “Even if we only make $1.00 a jar, it’s much less work,” says Huot. Hiring Pops’ also means the Huots don’t have to attempt production in the small space of their food truck.
Producing a grocery line of sauces is a new endeavor for Grind. Huot explained because business is down during the winter months, they were looking for alternate sources of income.
“We go from 3-4 day weekends to once or twice a month,” he says. And while they still sell a lot of burgers during those few winter appearances – “We did 110-120 burgers at one event when it was 28 degrees outside.” – it has not been enough business.
Grind will be selling their bottled ketchup through Grasshoppers Distribution and Reynolds Grocery Company on Frankfort Avenue. It will also be available, of course, on the Grind food truck. The Huots hope to sell their product at other local stores, and perhaps increase their line of products, but first, Huot told me, “We’re waiting to see if it’s worth it.”
Look for Grind Gourmet Burger Truck’s Smoked Tomato Ketchup to hit shelves in late November or early December.
You can find the Grind Gourmet Burger Truck on Fri., Oct. 25 at the Apocalypse Brew Works from 6 p.m.-10 p.m and Saturday for Boo Dell at Yew Dell Gardens from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.