Top 5 Condiments You Should Make at Home

Categories: How To, Top Five

3. Mayonnaise
This one's great, as it meets all of the requirements for homemade condiments. Flavorwise, real mayonnaise vs. the jarred stuff is like the difference between carob and chocolate. You can kind of see what people are thinking when they substitute one for the other, but nobody is really able to fool themselves into thinking that the substitution is acceptable. Unless, of course, they haven't had real mayonnaise. Which many people haven't. Which is why you should make it.

Aside from the vast flavor differences, and the fact that you can't get real-deal mayonnaise in the store, mayonnaise is both simple and magical. Three ingredients (four if you count salt), three minutes (less if you use an immersion blender) and amazing results. If you want to get fancy, add finely chopped herbs and garlic for aioli. Make it today. Hell, make it right now. Slather it on your sandwiches (scrambled egg being a favorite of mine), spoon it over grilled fish, eat it out of a bowl with steamed vegetables.

peaches and cream.JPG
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
These CSA peaches were basically perfect. I couldn't think of a better way to eat them.
2. Whipped Cream
This entry almost got booted by compound butter (soften butter, fold in flavoring -- try vadouvan -- mold into a cylinder using plastic wrap, refrigerate, slice to use), but won out for the sheer ridiculousness of Cool Whip. For starters, non-dairy whipped topping (and its nominal-dairy ilk) is disgusting. It's a textural nightmare, tastes like plastic and is overly sweet. I don't usually get so serious about food (not intended as a joke), but I actually take slight offense at a tub of Cool Whip accompanying the pies on a Thanksgiving buffet. It's just such a sad and careless food product.

The kicker is that actual whipped cream, and its pedantically sweet sister chantilly cream, are ridiculously easy to make. Put cream in a bowl. Beat it. Not too long, or you'll have butter. Which inadvertently reminds me of another positive of real whipped cream: if you screw it up, you get butter! Don't screw it up, and you have one of the best simple pleasures on the planet. True whipped cream is light and fragrant, with a subtle and pleasing sweetness even before you add sugar. It is worlds away from the tub stuff, and amazingly delicious. Sweetened, maybe with a bit of bourbon whipped in, it turns perfectly ripe fruit into a decadent dessert, while still managing to seem somewhat wholesome.

1. Salad Dressing
If you regularly buy bottled salad dressing, you're dead to me. Do you have oil? Of course you do. Vinegar (or pretty much any other acidic liquid)? Come on, now. Put them in a mason jar in a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, screw the lid on and shake the crap out of it. Make your kids do it for you. It's fun. Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper, a handful of herbs, maybe a minced shallot. Sometimes, I make mine in a tall pitcher, using an immersion blender. I throw in huge handfuls of herbs, no need to chop, and buzz the whole thing up in a minute flat. I've recently made both kosho and vadouvan vinaigrette, and they were amazing. I can't remember the last time I bought salad dressing, but it's been awhile. I think you'll find the same is true for you.

What are your favorite condiments to make at home?



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16 comments
del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

My current favorite is Puerto Rican Sofrito!

jennytulltx
jennytulltx

I hate to be cranky, but oh well - I was expecting in the To It Yourself article to find your recipes for the items listed. But nooooo - so I am forced to troll the internet to find them. :(

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Creme Fraiche.  Two ingredients, one step.  And to think they sell it for exorbitant prices at groceries.  Hollandaise.

marchost
marchost

Most recipes I've seen for kosho specify using yuzu zest.  Having never had it, I'm not sure what to substitute.  Any good recipes/ideas?

susanterrywilhelm
susanterrywilhelm

After taking Rob Walsh's class and getting his Tex-Mex Cookbook, I love making my own Chili Powder!  The difference between fresh and the bottle on the shelf is amazing!

Nate
Nate

"One thing we've always been able to agree on, ketchup-wise, is the futility of the "house-made" or, God forbid, "artisan" stuff. For better or for worse, there really is no improving on ketchup. Heinz has that one tied down tighter than if Archie Bell were a dominatrix."

 

Truer words were never spoken, Mr. Hall.  And don't even bring me that Hunts crap.  Has to be Heinz...

 

Condiments four and five seem pretty obscure.  What about salsa, probably the most consumed condiment?  Or, at least, pico de gallo...

nhallfreelance
nhallfreelance

A good question. I have a follow up post in the works, but any citrus will do fine. I used a combination of grapefruit, lemon, and lime.

nhallfreelance
nhallfreelance

 @Nate Those are certainly worthwhile considerations, particularly pico. Salsa, I would argue, is both ubiquitous and of good quality in pre-made form. It's certainly worth making at home, but it does not satisfy the list sufficiently to make the top five. Pico, on the other hand ...

alice
alice

Have you ever had the ketchup from Bernie's Burger Bus? Or fucking Whataburger ketchup? You and the author are insane if you think all ketchup is the same. FUCKING INSANE

Nate
Nate

@alice Oh, we totally agree. All ketchup is NOT the same. Heinz is the very best. It is what ketchup should taste like. And yes, I have had Bernie's, Whataburger's and even the Burger Guys attempt at ketchup.

mike
mike

 @alice you swear too much for a person "truly" named alice.  alices dont swear. 

nhallfreelance
nhallfreelance

 @alice Yes, and yes. I like Bernie's ketchup just fine. To me, though, it's not better enough to bother with making it at home. Also, when did I indicate that "all ketchup is the same?" Quite to the contrary, I assert that Heinz is ketchup king, and all others are pretenders. Of course, there is truly no love lost between myself and ketchup. Ketchup is only meant for fries (and only sometimes, at that), and as a meatloaf topping.

alice
alice

"For better or for worse, there really is no improving on ketchup."

 

Maybe not enough to make at home. But yes there are improvements on Heinz out there. Not that Heinz is bad.

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