100 Mile Sauce Makes Locally Sourced Ketchup, BBQ Sauce

100 Mile Sauce Makes Locally Sourced Ketchup, BBQ Sauce
Bobby Marshment-Howell, Jeff Cullen and Scott Kesling are the co-owners of 100 Mile Sauce Company.

The ingredients for 100 Mile Sauce Company products may come from nearby (they aim to source ninety-five percent of the ingredients from within one hundred miles of Madison), but word about this new Madison-made company is starting to reach far and wide. “We just got a call the other day from a food blogger in NYC. He wants to feature our ketchup on his blog,” says Bobby Marshment-Howell, one of the three owners of the company.

Marshment-Howell, Scott Kesling and Jeff Cullen, co-workers at the Memorial Union Terrace, initially partnered to form a business to help restaurants and institutions source food locally. “It’s actually pretty complicated to find a process that’s scalable,” says Marshment-Howell. In the mean time they began a side project making their own products from local produce, starting with ketchup. “We wanted to show that a basic item you have in your house could be made locally,” Marshment-Howell says. “We started testing recipes in our kitchens. Our wives and girlfriends got mad that our apartments smelled like vinegar and tomatoes all the time,” he laughs.

After many renditions, they finally made a winning batch. “We put out a plate of fries and a big bowl of ketchup. We started tasting it. Five minutes later, we looked back and all the fries were gone, all the ketchup was gone. That was it.”

In need of a production facility, the 100 Milers turned to FEED Kitchens, which coincidentally opened just around the time they nailed their ketchup recipe. FEED Kitchens rents certified commercial kitchen space by the hour and 100 Mile Sauce is one of many local businesses that utilize the space.

They started bottling their ketchup in November 2013 and began wholesaling in May 2014. “Our goal is to get [the ketchup] in restaurants, but it is very expensive compared to the national brand.” For each batch of ketchup, they start with a large vat filled with one hundred pounds or so of tomatoes, onions and garlic. After the mixture stews for a couple hours, they add an array of spices, some beet sugar from Michigan and vinegar made in Illinois. The next day the sauce continues to cook down until it’s the right consistency to bottle. Eventually 1.5 pounds of tomatoes makes its way into each bottle of their earthy and sublime ketchup. The other 15,000 pounds of tomatoes they bought this fall will be frozen and used over the winter for more of their ketchup, as well as their other products. Their line currently includes a hot and honey-sweet BBQ sauce—which took third and second place, respectively, at the Wisconsin State Fair—a pickle relish (limited supply) and most recently a hot and regular Bloody Mary mix chock-full of beets, spinach, tomatoes, tons of other veggies and spices.

You can purchase their products directly off their website and at the Northside Farmers’ Market in season. You can also find them in stores locally, including the Regent Market Co-op, Hy-Vee, Whole Foods and soon, I’m guessing, across the country.