Food from The Philippines: Banana Ketchup

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ November 25th, 2010. Updated on September 17th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Filipino food.
Banana Ketchup from The Philippines

Banana Ketchup from The Philippines made from real bananas, no tomatoes with a little help …

Banana Ketchup from The Philippines

Yes, it’s ketchup, and yes it’s made from Bananas! In between the last of my two final social integration articles I wanted to put in something a bit lighter. Banana Ketchup made the list!

Where does Banana Ketchup come from?

The Philippines! There’s also rumored to be a variation of this in the Caribbean, though that one is a more natural yellow color. Banana Ketchup in The Philippines is also known locally as Banana Catsup

History of Banana Ketchup / Banana Catsup

The origins of banana ketchup in The Philippines dates back to World War II when there was a shortage of tomatoes on the islands. Looking for a cheap and stable alternative bananas topped the list as they were, and still are, plentiful.

Today Banana Ketchup is practically more popular than tomato ketchup. And, much cheaper to produce.

Many fast food restaurants use banana ketchup rather than tomato due to the price difference.

A common name for banana or tomato ketchup is “Catsup”. I can only hypothesize that this is a colloquial spelling derived from the original.

What is Banana Ketchup made from?

Do you really want to know? Yes, the main ingredient is really banana. Along with sugar and spices. However, in order to make it red, there’s also a host of chemical colorants added. The real color of banana ketchup is brown.

Banana Ketchup next to a real banana

Do bananas bleed red? In The Philippines it appears they do!

There are also a host of artificial flavorings added too.

On the front of many bottles it’s described as sweet, with spice. If you look closely at the banana ketchup photograph next to the real banana you will see little black spots. This is, allegedly, the spice.

What does banana ketchup taste like?

So this is the ultimate question about banana ketchup. Here’s my answer. To me, it’s very similar to the ketchup you will find in western Burger King chains. Sweet, with a little spicy edge.

Does it even have a remote taste of banana? No, not even a hint. The texture is nearly the same as regular tomato ketchup, though a lot more translucent as you can see.

All in all, banana Banana Catsup in The Philippines tastes like regular ketchup only sweeter. The reason for this is the artificial flavors used to make a tangy tomato taste.

Do I use banana ketchup?

I actually don’t think you have a choice in The Philippines. Banana Ketchup is used on many spaghetti dishes. And, as a coating for barbecue marinades.

If you’ve read my article about the local barbecue stalls in The Philippines you’ll notice how fluorescent the chicken looks. The reason for this is not over color compensation on my camera, it’s due to the massive amount of coloring used in banana ketchup! Yes, really!

Ingredients of Banana Ketchup.

The scary ingredients of Banana Ketchup (click to enlarge)

Final note on banana ketchup

Food in The Philippines is evolving. Under pressure to satisfy taste buds, eyes, stomachs and budgets products like Banana Ketchup have become very popular.

However, concerns over the dangers of artificial food colorings and flavorings have not really hit Filipino households yet. Strangely the China food product scares do influence people in not buying so many, labeled, food stuffs from China.

Banana Ketchup is proudly Filipino. If you like your condiments sweet, you’ll probably like this as it actually can taste good. Just be wary of those scary chemical numbers that go into making it.

This is an additional article highlighting food from The Philippines

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29 Great responses to Food from The Philippines: Banana Ketchup

  1. Renny says:

    You made my day. This is the strangest thing I’ve seen in a long time!

  2. Gil says:

    I LOVE banana catsup! We need to export it overseas as a prime Pinoy product.

  3. Ian Martin says:

    Export ? Not to Europe ! Most of those colouring chemicals were banned in Europe in the 60s, Tartrazine ? isnt that used as a rat poisoner in England ? The Coca Cola fizzy orange drink here, colours leave your mouth bright orange for a day or 2.

    Many foods in Palawan are delicious, fish, cashew nuts, cakes, but i get a bit depressed to receive a savoury dish of point-point food, and it is invariably cold and overly sweet. But the Palawenos seem to love it.

    How about cheesey related foods for weird things to eat in the RP, “Real Cheese” Ice Cream, Cheese Cupcakes.

    But banana catsup sounds ok, ah i can hear the Balut salesman going past, i will just go and buy one …… (joke), although my Pinay Girlfriend is just tucking into a plate of Chicken Feet Adobo as i write this ……….. wierd

    • Ha ha. Yes, I think it wouldn’t make it to Europe alright. Scary how many banned food additives make it into food over here. Royal orange positively glows in the dark.

      I agree about the over sweetness of everything. And, the cheese flavored everything. Yet somehow, real cheese is near impossible to find!

      Chicken Feet Adobo … yea, I know the feeling. I’ve been at food markets buying fillets, yet the pinoy will stand drooling over those chicken feet. And, be quite happy after …

  4. grace says:

    ahahah banana ketchup.. only in the Philippines – even though I’m filipino I never liked it, I’m a fan of bananas, and a fan of ketchup but together.. mmm not so much! fun post, keep it up!

  5. Filipina here, but not a big fan of banana ketchup. It’s too sweet for me :)

  6. ciki says:

    three words. gross gross gross! LOL. Banana is already something i regard as semi digested, in terms of consistency. Imagine ketchup. Have i mentioned.. gross ?! :P

    • I guess you won’t like the Christmas present I am sending you then? Someone has an anti banana thing here :P

    • rachael says:

      I think its a matter of being used to something. So you guys who aren’t used to eating banana ketchup its weird… but hey we also think Europeans are weird for eating rabbits (you eat your pets? O_O)

  7. Poppy says:

    Growing up I really thought ketchup was spelled Catsup, it was on the Banana Catsup label ey! :)

    I prefer the Papa Banana ketchup brand which is thicker, the Del Monte brand has a more refine consistency. Hope you also tried another weird island condiment called Mang Tomas which is originally sauce for roasted pigs.

    BTW great blog!

    • I see you’ve been quite the banana catsup fan over the years then! I thought about the spelling too, still not all sure how it got started. Not come across Mang Tomas, though I’ve digested a lot of tasty BBQ so it might well have been apart of that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. janet says:

    yes! banana ketchup is better than regular ketchup IMO. LOVE IT! :)

  9. Laura says:

    Interesting read, I love hearing about unusual local favourites. I’d not heard of banana ketchup before so fascinating to learn about it here.

  10. hey man, cant believe the banana ketchup would be a nice post. i’m not a fan of those but as you said, you dont have a choice when you eat outside. i still like the tomato ketchup even though its pricier.
    btw, have you tasted the mango ketchup? if not, you should…haha i tasted one in guimaras

  11. Laura says:

    I was hoping for a hint of banana flavor in it!

  12. Chris says:

    Nice post. I was just talking about this and my friends thought it was gross when i mentioned it’s name. I can tell you this, after they tried it, it has been the favorite condiment by my friends when they stop by my apartment.

  13. luigi says:

    Sadly I’m forced to use banana ketchup because i live here. i like tomato better.

  14. Ace Macaro says:

    I eat fried foods with banana ketchup for 26 years, and nothing happens to me. Well of course it depends on your diet.

    But for spagetti!? Oh no, tomato ketchup it is!

  15. dennis says:

    my son loves the del monte banana ketchup but for the last month until now I don’t seem to see this product anymore at the supermarket.
    I don’t know if del monte is discontinuing it cause the banana ketchup is well demand to us consumer.