Condiments are rarely a star when it comes to a great recipe, but they can be a key component that brings a dish together. From the Russian dressing on a Reuben sandwich to the fish sauce on stir fry and even the hot fudge on an ice cream sundae, condiments can fill crucial culinary roles.
A relatively recent and broad trend for more consumer choice in condiments can be seen in the variety on grocery store shelves. That’s true not only of different flavors and new types of condiments but also a push for alternative sweeteners like cane sugar and honey replacing the much-maligned high-fructose corn syrup.
Brands like Sir Kensington’s base a significant part of brand identity on things like avoiding GMO ingredients and emphasizing humane, free-range eggs in condiments like mayonnaise (while also offering a vegan alternative to that classic condiment). This is true of many other condiment producers, large and small.
Chefs and Boulder culinary school students alike can draw on this trend to offer condiments that have more enjoyable, memorable flavors and fewer highly processed ingredients than the most standard variations.
Making your own condiments: How, when and why
It’s important to understand the benefits that housemade condiments provide versus their mass-produced counterparts. In certain situations, those basic types sold in stores and by foodservice distributors are the best bet. They’re generally shelf stable, recognizable to eaters, and have high recognition in terms of flavor profile and expectations. There’s nothing wrong with offering a classic ketchup provided by a wholesaler alongside a standard order of french fries, for example.
However, housemade condiments bring a number of major advantages to the table that their mass-produced counterparts often can’t touch. Control is a critical benefit for chefs – you can fine-tune the mustard, fish sauce or green goddess dressing you make to perfectly pair with the ingredients and cooking methods of individual dishes.
Flavor is another important piece for culinary professionals and customers alike. You create the taste and texture you want as opposed to trying to work around the flavor of the bottled condiment you’d otherwise use. Variety is also a crucial reason why housemade condiments can be so powerful. You’re not limited to the options available in a plastic bottle. Instead, you can create variations on popular condiments or your own, entirely unique sauces.
We’ve looked at a wide range of recipes for housemade condiments over the years. Consider some of the recipes in these articles as starting points for making your own top-notch sauces and accompaniments:
- This look at elevated barbecue sauces and condiments goes far beyond traditional types based on ingredients like brown sugar, tomatoes and mustard. You can find dependable recipes for everything from bacon jam and avocado cilantro sauce to spicy Chilean favorite pebre.
- Hot sauces can be relatively simple to make, but the variations you can find here, or introduce yourselves, will help your offerings stand out to customers and encourage them to come back for more.
- You can learn about spicy curry ketchup, a versatile and piquant mustard, a simple yet effective housemade hot sauce and a dependable barbecue sauce with this set of recipes for homemade condiments.
- Mayonnaise attracts some strong opinions, from those who love it to others who never want to taste it on a sandwich or in a salad ever again. This basic yet delicious mayonnaise can be served as is or used as a base to develop your own recipe with more varied and nuanced flavors.
Condiments are just one part of a great dish. Students at our Boulder culinary school learn about all of the elements needed to capably serve delicious meals to their customers.