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Garum Recipe Patent

Definitely the most exciting recipe patent I've ever found … (likely due to my fixation with anything Roman) … a patented ancient recipe for making GARUM ‐ the Ketchup of Roman times (ES2155026):


Garum Recipe Patent


  1. Ferment the fish together with the citric acid, butyl hydroxyanisole, butyl hydroxytoluene, neutral bacterial endoprotease and half the salt, for 18‐36 hours at a temperature 30‐45 Celsius while stirring at 50‐150 rpm.
  2. Stop the fermentation and add the natural spices, additives and condiments, and the rest of the salt.
  3. Resume the fermentation for 18‐36 hours at a temperature of 30‐45 Celsius while stirring.
  4. Filter the mixture through a 1‐2mm mesh under vacuum.
  5. Dilute the filtrate with a solution of xanthan gum (up to 25%).
  6. Pasteurise the Garum by heating it to 80 Celsius for 10 minutes, which gives the Garum a refrigerated shelf life of at least 2 months.

Apparently, it is the natural MSG that is created in the process that made this sauce so addictive to the Romans. But in those days, fermentation took several months, as they had no endoprotease enzymes to help them along.

If you are not up to making your own garum, "similar sauces" are easily available: Nuoc‐mam, Nam‐pla, Budu and Patis. However, these sauces are thin without fat, whereas Garum is viscous with about 10% fat.

Garum Recipe Patent

Original Garum recipes

From the Geoponika, a book written in the tenth century in Byzantine Constantinople:

  1. Add 1 part of salt to 8 parts of fish eggs and small fish entrails (e.g. mullet, sprats, anchovy)
  2. Beat into a pulp
  3. Allow to ferment in the sun for several months, beating occasionally
  4. Draw off the liquid and strain
  5. Mix with wine, vinegar, pepper, oil or water

From Gargilius Martialis' De medicina et de virtute herbarum (third century):

  1. Seal layers of fatty fish (e.g. sardines) separated by layers of dried aromatic herbs (e.g. dill, coriader, fennel, celery, mint, oregani) and a layer of salt two fingers high in a container
  2. Rest container in the sun for 7 days
  3. Mix the sauce daily for 20 days
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