One of my favorite things about delicious, real food is the myriad ways I can dress up any dish with a rainbow of condiments. Now, we are all familiar with the electric yellow of store-bought mustard and deep, consistently brick red of bottled ketchup. But the daydreams that really get my mouth watering involve delicately flavored ground mustard seed, homemade mayo from farm-fresh eggs and zingy ketchups spiced just the way I like them.
Additionally, store-bought condiments are often loaded with sugars and chemicals that I’m so careful to avoid putting into my main dishes. Why not extend this reverence to condiments as well? I take special care to avoid high-fructose corn syrup (found in most big-brand condiments). Princeton University released a startling study involving rats. The rats who consumed high-fructose corn syrup had increased fat deposits in their bodies (read more about this study). Much of the fat accumulated around the stomach.
In other words, these fat rats got their pudge from eating the same substance forming the basis of mass-produced condiments. So, as a way to protect yourself (deliciously), here’s the skinny on homemade ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and sour cream.
Keep-On-Hand Sweet Ketchup
Just as you can taste the difference between garden-fresh tomatoes and pale, tasteless tomatoes at the supermarket, homemade ketchup delivers heaps of flavor compared with its packet-filling alter-ego. The recipe below is for sweet ketchup, but try this one for spicy ketchup.
2 quarts homemade tomato sauce
2 sweet red peppers, finely chopped
1 sweet green pepper, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cups sugar or honey
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups cider vinegar
Tie in a cheesecloth bag:
1-1/2 teaspoons whole allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon, broken in several pieces
Simmer all ingredients except vinegar in a large pot, stirring often, until thick (2 to 4 hours). Add vinegar, and cook for 15 minutes more. Remove spices, and ladle sauce into clean, hot pint jars. Adjust lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes about 5 pints.
Healthier Homemade Mayo
Homemade mayo is more luscious than store-bought versions that contain stabilizers, but it will also tend to separate, or “break,” in the refrigerator. If necessary, re-emulsify the mayo by stirring in a few droplets of water until it’s nice and creamy again.
1 fresh egg yolk from a pastured hen
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tsp lemon juice and/or vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
Fresh herbs, chopped garlic, hot sauce and/or white pepper, to taste (optional)
Whisk the salt and about a tablespoon of the oil into the egg yolk. When the emulsion begins to stiffen, add all of the remaining ingredients except the remaining oil. Then begin adding oil a little at a time, whisking until it reaches the creamy mayo consistency you love. Want fries with that? Try a healthier version than what the fast food chains offer in Homemade, Better-Than-French Fries.
The real joy with mustard is found in the endless flavorings and combinations. The recipe below is a more traditional favorite. Alternatively, try this honey stout mustard or sweeter cranberry honey mustard. Then try some combinations of your own. Bottle them up for a perfect side business.
2 1/8 cups white mustard seeds, ground
2 tbsp mustard powder
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
Grated zest (rind) of 1 lime
2 1/4 tbsp lime juice
In a bowl, combine the ground mustard seeds and mustard powder with the water. Allow to marinate for 3 hours. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, and gradually add the other ingredients except the lime juice when processing. Sample the mixture, adding enough of lime juice to make it smooth. Spoon into small jars. Store in the refrigerator for several months. Yields 2 cups.
Superbly Simple Sour Cream
Bring on the tacos! Homemade sour cream is a cinch since all you need is a little “starter” sour cream from a past batch.
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup sour cream
Combine your starter sour cream with the heavy cream in a screw-top mason jar with a lid. Shake the jar a bit, and then let it sit, covered, at room temperature for about 24 hours until the mixture becomes thick.
This is not an exhaustive list, of course. What about condiment all-stars like salsa, pesto and horseradish? Try these great recipes, using ingredients straight from the garden or farmers market.
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