Outdoor dining in the summer would be lacking without condiments to add that extra pizazz to grilled food, picnic fare and everything in between. While it seems easy to snatch the all too familiar red, yellow and green bottles off grocery store shelves, it’s just as easy to make condiments at home with fresh and natural ingredients.
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Creating condiments from scratch means avoiding the extra sugars and sodium, artificial coloring and flavors, and the high fructose syrup often found in mass-produced, highly processed condiments. Homemade condiments are not only healthier for you, they are delicious, inexpensive and make perfect gifts for family, friends and co-workers.
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Many condiments can made through the simple process of fermenting vegetables. Fermentation is a natural metabolic occurrence that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, resulting in complex and edgy flavors. Using fermentation to make condiments ensures a dramatic range of health benefits: enhanced metabolism, immune functions and general well-being.
Fermenting vegetables is an ideal way to adopt the practice, and the results can be enjoyed fairly quickly. Tomato ketchup, mustard, hot sauces, relishes, salsas, chutneys can all be made through fermentation. The longer the vegetables ferment, the more intense the flavors will be.
Below are three recipes to kickstart your culinary journey into homemade condiments.
Jalapeño Hot Sauce
- 10 Jalapeno peppers
- 1 onion
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 3 cups filtered water
- 3 tsp sea salt
- Wearing gloves, chop the jalapeño peppers into rings. If you’d prefer a milder sauce, remove the seeds.
- Cut the onion in half. Chop one half, and mix in a large ball jar with the jalapeños and crushed garlic cloves.
- Create your brine by mixing the water with the sea salt. Pour the brine over the jalapeños, garlic and onion.
- Cut the other onion half at a 90 degree angle, creating a hinge at the root. Fan out, and place on top of the fermented vegetables to keep submerged.
- Loosely tighten the lid and let the mixture ferment for one week to one month at room temperature.
- Once the ferment is ready, blend in a food processor for a minute or more. Add salt to taste, blend, then transfer to a hot sauce bottle. The hot sauce should last for a month or longer when refrigerated.
Nutrients per serving (1 oz hot sauce): Calories: 3, total fat: 0g, sat. fat: 0g, polyunsaturated fat: 0g, carbs: 1g, fiber: 0g, sugars: 0g, protein: 0g, sodium: 209mg, cholesterol: 0mg
Grainy Dijon Mustard
- 3/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1/8 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp tumeric (optional)
- In a jar, combine the mustard seeds, white wine, white wine vinegar and water. Let it sit at room temperature for a day or more.
- Blend the mixture in a food processor until the desired texture is achieved. Mix in the thyme and turmeric for color, if desired, and blend. Transfer back into a jar and refrigerate.
Nutrients per serving (1 oz mustard): Calories: 63, total fat: 4g, sat. fat: 0g, polyunsaturated fat: 0g, carbs: 5g, fiber: 2g, sugars: 1g, protein: 3g, sodium: 1mg, cholesterol: 0mg
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp mustard
- 3/4 cup canola/grapeseed/vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Sprinkle the salt on top of the garlic, and mince and mash into a paste. The salt will act as a grit to break the garlic down.
- Add the garlic, mustard and egg yolk to a bowl and whisk.
- Mix your oils together and add drop by drop into the egg, garlic and mustard mixture. Whisk constantly. As the oil emulsifies, you can gradually begin to add in larger amounts while whisking. Whisk until the desired texture is achieved.
- Once all the oil is added, mix in the lemon juice and salt to taste.
Nutrients per serving (1 oz aioli): Calories: 227, total fat: 25g, sat. fat: 3g, polyunsaturated fat: 0g, carbs: 5g, fiber: 0g, sugars: 0g, protein: 0g, sodium: 132mg, cholesterol: 24mg
Samara Napolitan works by day at an arts-nonprofit in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her writing has appeared in Making Music, Relix and The Post & Courier, among other places.