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Archive for Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fresh Pesto

Look for deals on basil and make pesto.
Photo courtesy


Our greenmarkets are flooded with huge bunches of basil, just beckoning to be made into pesto sauce. Pesto traditionally* consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses, plus a pinch of salt. It originated in the Italian province of Liguria, 220 miles of crescent-shaped Mediterranean coastline that is sometimes called the Italian Riviera—and produces the sweetest, mildest basil.

The capital of Liguria is Genoa, and the region’s classic pesto is known as pesto alla genovese (jen-oh-VAY-zay). Ligurians take such great pride in their sauce, that they have sought D.O.P. status for pesto produced in the area (an official labeling that distinguishes a product for its authenticity and excellence and protects the use of the name).

The sauce gets its name from the word pestle; a mortar and pestle are the traditional device used to make pesto.

For centuries, pesto was used mostly as a condiment, to flavor vegetable soups. It wasn’t until 1910 that it began to be used as a sauce for pasta.

*Earlier versions of Ligurian pesto used parsley or marjoram instead of basil, and did not include the pine nuts. Delicious pestos can be made with arugula or other green, and with walnuts or hazelnuts. Regions that have an abundance of those nuts will make the substitution. Some recipes use a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses; others use only one. Some add butter to the pesto for added creaminess. Ligurian cooks have also been known to occasionally incorporate cooked potato into the sauce. At times, they combine pesto with tomatoes, or add a light, fresh cheese, like ricotta or prescineua, a cultured cheese similar to yogurt or crème fraîche.


Traditional preparations with pesto include trenette, flat ribbon pasta similar to linguine but with ridges the pesto can clink to; and triofe alla Genovese, dumpling-like, rolled, worm-shaped pasta with crevices for pesto to fill. With the latter dish, small pieces of potato are boiled with the dry pasta, and when they’re almost done, string beans are added to the boiling liquid. The three ingredients are then tossed with pesto, adding some starchy cooking water to help it coat.

How else can you use pesto?

  • Bruschetta: Spread pesto on toasted or grilled bread for an easy snack or hors d’oeuvre.
  • Caprese salad: Substitute pesto for the oil and fresh basil of a Caprese salad (bufala mozzarella and tomatoes).
  • Condiment: Spread pesto on sandwiches, straight or mixed into mayonnaise. That pesto-mayo will also spruce up your chicken and tuna salads, and make a fusion pesto-aïoli. Or, add some pesto to your marinade.
  • Dip: Use pesto as a dip with crudités or French fries; or mix it with mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt for a creamy dip and sauce that goes with just about anything.
  • Fish and meats: Spoon pesto atop grilled, poached or roasted food, or spoon the pesto onto a plate and place the food on top of it. Like chimichurri† sauce, it’s really delicious on steak.
  • Pasta and pizza: Pesto can be used in lasagna, on gnocchi, and with any other shape of pasta. Just place a few spoonfuls in a bowl, add the cooked pasta and a touch of pasta cooking water, and stir. One of our favorite ways to serve this is with whole, toasted pine nuts, shredded prosciutto, freshly grated Parmesan and peas. We also drizzle it on pizza—both homemade and delivery.
  • Soup: A dollop of pesto, made without nuts, can be added to minestrone or other vegetable soup. In France, pistou is the name of a pesto-like sauce and the soup to which it is added.
  • Vegetables and grains: Pesto is delicious with potatoes, rice and other grains (barley, quinoa, etc.). Instead of parsley potatoes, think pesto potatoes.
  • Vinaigrette: Herb and garlic pestos make fabulous additions to vinaigrettes. Whisk a spoonful with some lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, or add it to your favorite vinaigrette recipe.
    †Chimichurri is a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce that is the leading condiment in Argentina and Uruguay, as salsa is to Mexico. It is made of chopped fresh parsley and onion, seasoned with garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne and black pepper, and bound with oil and vinegar; it is served with grilled meat.




  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 60 small or 30 large fresh basil leaves, wiped, stems and spines removed
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled, any green shoots removed
  • 3 tablespoons/22g pignoli nuts
  • 2 tablespoons/15g fresh, finely grated Pecorino Sardo
  • 2 tablespoons/15g fresh, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons/45 ml extra virgin olive oil (mild or fruity)

    The result of your labors: delicious pesto. Photo by Loooby | IST..


    If you’re not a huge basil fan, try arugula, cilantro or spinach pesto. Pesto doesn’t have to be green: You can make it from mushrooms, olives, red bell peppers or sundried tomatoes. You can add chipotle, honey, maple syrup, olives, roasted garlic or whatever appeals to you, to make your signature pesto.


    1. PLACE the sea salt and a few of the basil leaves in a mortar. Using a pestle, press and lightly pound the leaves and salt against the coarse bowl of the mortar, in a rotary motion, breaking the leaves apart. Keep adding a few more leaves and grinding them until you’ve used them all. Do not completely pulverize.

    2. ADD the garlic and pound it until it releases its juices. Add the pignoli nuts and pound them into a paste. Move the pestle around the mortar to combine the ingredients.

    3. STIR in the Pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano; then gradually add olive oil, stirring it into the paste (a spoon can be used for these steps, if you prefer). You should have a thick, creamy, homogenous, bright green sauce.


    You can make pesto in a blender or food processor. We’ve done it both ways. Believe us, it tastes better when made with a mortar and pestle. If you want the ease of an electric appliance, choose the a blender.

    1. COMBINE half the olive oil and all the ingredients, excluding the cheeses. Process, adding more oil, if necessary, to get the ingredients moving.

    2. STOP the blender regularly to push the mixture down. Once a paste forms, stir in the cheeses, as well as additional olive oil, if desired.


    Check out our article with reviews of the best ready-made pesto brands.



    PRODUCT: Mingo’s Sweet Hot Mustard & Pepper Butter

    Mingo’s: mysterious but delicious. Photo by
    Elvira Kalvise | THE NIBBLE.


    Several products arrive at THE NIBBLE offices each week, over the transom*.

    Of these surprise deliveries, some contain a business card, some have a letter and some have nothing. Most of the products are just O.K.; some are quite good and we want to write about them.

    And some of the latter become mysteries, because there’s no card, no website on the bottle, and our ability to track down more information is limited.

    That’s the case with Mingo’s, a brand about which there is precious little online information. We were able to discern that:

  • It is made by S & S Foods of Mustang, Oklahoma (we did find an address and a phone number).
  • It is available from three or so e-tailers.
    That‘s it.

    While there are several companies named S & S Foods in the country, we could find nothing further about the one in Mustang, Oklahoma. No website, no product reviews. Who Mingo is, we have no idea.

    What we can tell you is that, we really like the products.

  • Mingo’s Sweet Hot Mustard Sauce combines the tang of mustard and vinegar, the heat of jalapeño and a blend of sugar and spices. It has become a favorite condiment on sandwiches and hot dogs. The mustard is listed on Amazon but is out of stock. This Oklahoma e-tailer sells it.
  • Mingo‘s Pepper Butter, is a delightfully different spread in Mild, with the jalapeño seeds removed; Medium, with the heat-containing seeds left in the jalapeños; and Hot, with jalapeño and serrano chiles, including the seeds.

    Like the mustard, the Pepper Butter has a touch of sweetness. As with apple butter, there is no butter in the product; “butter” refers to the smooth spreadability. Use it:

  • As a general condiment and a hot alternative to pickle relish.
  • As a spread on sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, wraps, etc.
  • As a dip, straight or combined with cream cheese, mayonnaise or yogurt, with chips, pretzels and raw vegetables.
  • Mixed in with the mayo or other dressing for chicken, tuna and other salads.
  • As a meat and poultry rub, or added to meat loaf and other recipes where you’d like a more refined kick than mere hot sauce.

    Pepper butter on a wrap sandwich. Photo courtesy DairyMax.

    Mingo’s is worth tracking down. Give it with impunity to food-loving friends. Buy it for stocking stuffers. And tell us how else you’d use it.
    *This charming publishing industry term means, “arrives unsolicited or without prior knowledge.” It dates to the days before centralized building ventilation systems, when the transom—a small, horizontal window above a door—was opened to circulate air. Some would-be authors, who could not get their manuscripts past the assistant or the mail room, would toss unsolicited manuscripts over the transom, directly into an editor’s office.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Save The Sauerkraut Juice & A Bacon Sauerkraut Recipe

    We have a delicious recipe for bacon sauerkraut below, but first a tip: Don’t toss the sauerkraut juice. Not only is it good for you*; if you like the taste of sauerkraut, the juice has the identical flavor.

    Drink It

    Drinking sauerkraut juice may sound strange to Americans, but it is a popular digestif and tonic in Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere. You can drink it:

  • As a glass of juice or a shot
  • In a vodka cocktail
  • As a sparkler mixed with club soda

    We enjoy drinking a small glass of sauerkraut juice as we eat the sauerkraut itself: with brats, franks, pork loin, etc.

    And if you have a store throat, some people swear that sauerkraut juice is the cure (and much tastier than gargling with salt water).


    Eat the sauerkraut, drink the juice. Photo © Viktorija | Fotolia.

    Cook With It

  • Cooking/steaming water: Steam brats in the juice.
  • Marinades: The acids in sauerkraut juice are tenderizers, and great in marinades for pork and poultry. Use it instead of vinegar.
  • Slow cooking: Add the juice to pork and apples in a slow cooker, or to soups and stews where you’d like a hint of tart and tangy.
  • Vinaigrette: Replace the vinegar with sauerkraut juice. Add a clove of crushed fresh garlic.
    The bacon sauerkraut recipe that follows was a hit at our July 4th festivities. The recipe is from Dietz & Watson, producers of premium deli meats. There are more recipes on the company website.

    *Sauerkraut, a fermented food, is an anti-carinogen, digestive aid, immune support aid and probiotic. It’s high in nutrition and very low in calories.


    Simply delish: bacon and sauerkraut. Photo
    courtesy Dietz & Watson.



    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 9 slices bacon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 pounds sauerkraut, drained (save the juice!) and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup sweet white wine, such as Muscat or Riesling
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red skinned potato (about 3 ounces, peeled and grated)
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper


    1. COOK the bacon in the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 3 minutes.

    2. ADD the onions and garlic; sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

    3. STIR in the drained sauerkraut, chicken stock, wine and caraway seeds.Bring to a boil over high heat.

    4. REDUCE heat to medium and cook about 45 minutes, until the stock is reduced by three-fourths.

    5. STIR in the apples and potato and cook about 45 minutes more, until the apples and potato are dissolved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Steak Sauce Or Marinade

    Make your own marinade and steak sauce.
    Photo courtesy Double R Ranch.


    So many recipes tell you to marinate meat by pouring a bottle of Italian salad dressing over it.

    That’s one type of cooking, but we prefer the superior flavors of from-scratch cooking, using the best ingredients. Whether you’re making a marinade or anything else, the finest flavors come from fresh ingredients, including herbs.

    Here’s a delicious marinade and steak sauce from a leading provider of quality beef, Double R Ranch. This family of ranchers wouldn’t dream of covering their fine steaks in bottled dressing.

    They like a chimichurri sauce (a spicy parsley vinaigrette) as a steak sauce and a marinade—a classic Argentinian preparation from country of avid beef eaters.




  • 1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oregano, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons shallots or onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


    1. PLACE parsley, oregano, garlic and shallots in a food processor. Pulse until chopped but not puréed.

    2. ADD vinegar, mustard and lemon juice to the herb mixture. Process on low while gradually adding the olive oil.

    3. ADD salt and pepper to taste and pulse again. Store a sealable container. When ready to prepare the meat…

    4. RINSE the steak briefly and pat try. Place the steak in a glass baking dish or other nonreactive shallow pan and cover with the marinade. Turn the steak to coat all sides and marinate for 30 minutes or longer. If you’re marinating for more than 30 minutes, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and turn the meat every two hours.


    Even a hungry cowboy might have trouble finishing these large cowboy steaks. Photo courtesy Double R Ranch.

    NOTE that cowboy steak, ribeye and other highly-marbled meats absorb marinade more quickly than less marbled cuts, so a two-hour marinade may do the trick.

    5. REMOVE the steak from the marinade when you’re ready to grill; do not reuse the marinade because it can collect bacteria.

    Called a cowboy chop by Double R Ranch (it looks like an enormous chop), the cowboy steak is an impressive piece of meat.

    It’s a bone-in ribeye steak with a frenched rib bone. This “raw bone” feature and the fact that the cut is generally around two pounds of meat, makes it big enough for the hungriest cowboy—or enables two people to share.

    If you’d like to try a cowboy steak—or send one to Dad as a Father’s Day gift—Double R Ranch Co. is offering 10% off all cowboy chop purchases placed by June 11. To qualify for discount, all orders must be placed by 12 p.m. (EDT) on June 11 for shipment no later than June 12, 2013. Enter promo code “DRRDAD13” at checkout.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gourmet Condiments

    Today’s tip comes from McCormick, and it illustrates how easy it is to make gourmet condiments in your kitchen. Just open the bottle of mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup and add herbs and spices.

    Use the recipes below on burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs and brats, sandwiches/wraps and anything requiring some condiment verve.

    Just combine the ingredients and whisk thoroughly to blend. Letting them sit in the fridge for a half hour or longer allows the flavors to meld.


  • Southwest Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Smokehouse Maple Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
  • Lemony Herb Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    We mixed ketchup with salsa: What a great idea! Photo courtesy

  • Customize Your Own Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo plus 1/2 teaspoon of two of your favorite herbs and/or spices; adjust seasonings to taste

  • Honey Mustard: 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons ground mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon water (NOTE: This is McCormick’s recipe; we simply blend honey into Dijon mustard)
  • Herbed Mustard: 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • Worcestershire Pub Mustard: 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon McCormick Grill Mates Worcestershire Pub burger seasoning
  • Customize Your Own Mustard: 1/2 cup mustard plus 1/2 teaspoon of two of your favorite herbs and/or spices; adjust seasonings to taste

    We mixed mustard with sauerkraut to create a
    tangy, textured mustard for pork chops. Photo
    courtesy National Pork Board.



  • Asian Spiced Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Cajun Spiced Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun Seasoning
  • Curry Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • Horseradish Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, optional 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Customize Your Own Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup plus a total of 2 teaspoons of your your favorite herbs and/or spices; adjust seasonings to taste


    A condiment is a food product used add flavor to another food. Hot sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, relish, syrups and vinegar, among many others, are condiments.

    The word is first found in print in late Middle English, in the period of 1400–1450, derived from Middle French. The French took it from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or salt, and the verb condire, to preserve, pickle or season.

    There is disagreement as to what constitutes a condiment. Some say that salt and spices are condiments; others say that a condiment must be more complicated and moist—i.e, with some liquid in its make-up.

    Formal sauces belong in the sauce category; they are not condiments. Thus, while a mayonnaise dip for asparagus is a condiment, hollandaise sauce on the asparagus is not.

    Relish is a condiment; pickles are not (they’re vegetables, which happen to be preserved). If you‘re not sure if something is a condiment or belongs in another category, bring the debate to the dinner table. You’ll have fun working it out.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Rabbit’s Garlic

    Rabbit’s Garlic is pickled garlic in five
    flavors, used here a canapé garnish, in
    hummus-carrot and mozzarella-tomato
    combinations. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |


    We like garlic, but wouldn’t consider ourselves to be garlic lovers. Yet, we love Rabbit’s Garlic. The picked garlic is made in five flavors, each of which can be served at every meal from breakfast to dinner and snacks. We’re giving jars as Father’s Day gifts.

    The creator is a nurse named Bunny, called Rabbit by her husband. She had long been preserving fruits, meats and vegetables for family and friends until she was convinced to go commercial. Try her pickled garlic, and you’ll be glad she did!

    When Bunny started to add garlic cloves to season jars of dilly beans, everyone started to fight over the garlic cloves. Thus the first flavor of pickled garlic was born: Spicy Dill. The line now includes:

  • Chipotle Pickled Garlic
  • Habanero Pickled Garlic
  • Habanero Dill Pickled Garlic
  • Smoke Pickled Garlic
  • Spicy Dill Pickled Garlic
  • You’ll find many ways to use these delicious pickled garlic cloves. For starters:



  • Beer: Pop a clove into the bottle.
  • Bloody Mary or Martini: The Spicy Dill flavor is great as a Bloody Mary or Martini garnish.
  • Bruschetta: Mash the garlic cloves and spread on toasted bread.
  • Eggs: In omelets and scrambles, in deviled eggs and as a garnish.
  • Garlic Butter/Garlic Bread: Mash the garlic cloves with softened butter to spread on bread; toast under the broiler.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: The smoke flavor is great for this. Mix sliced and smashed cloves into the mashed potatoes.
  • Salads: Add cut up cloves to egg, chicken, green, potato, macaroni, tuna and other salads.
  • Snack and Relish: Straight from the jar, or serve them like pickles or olives as a snack. A reason to revive the relish tray!

    Garlic brittle: really delicious! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Marinade: Mash onto steaks and chops during grilling or add to the marinade for 1-2 hrs before cooking.
  • Meat Seasoning: Cut slits in the side of beef or pork roasts before cooking. The flavor is subtle but well worth trying.
  • Pasta Sauce: Add to your favorite pasta sauces, or toss with the pasta.
  • Sandwiches & Burgers: A memorable garnish.
    Bunny also sent us some garlic brittle: We tasted it gingerly, now we’re addicted!

    Get yours at



    FATHER’S DAY GIFT: Hot Sauce From Bumblefoot

    These hot sauces rock. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Looking for something special for Dad? If he’s a Guns n’ Roses fan, how about a line of hot sauces recently launched by the band’s lead guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal?

    The guitarist partnered with the CaJohns Fiery Foods, an Ohio-based hot sauce manufacturer, to create the Bumblefoot line of condiments.

    There are mild, medium and hot-hot-hot sauces, several of which won ZestFest awards in different categories (though we’re not thrilled that the manufacturer uses high fructose corn syrup in the recipes). For gifting, you can’t beat the label designs and the saucy names:

  • BUMBLICIOUS! Heat level: Mild. Sweet and savory cherries, bourbon and chipotle with a subtle kick. Suggested for chips, ribs, wings. A 1st Place Winner at ZestFest Awards 2013.
  • BUMBLEF**KED. Heat level: Hot. Tropical fruit and ginger, followed by a “sledgehammer” of caffeine and ginseng. “A high-energy heart-pounder for ‘pain junkies’ like me,” says Bumblefoot.

  • NORMAL. Heat level: Mild. Jalapeño, tomatoes and mediterranean herbs in what emulates a delicious salsa purée. A 1st Place Winner at ZestFest Awards 2013.
  • ABNORMAL. Heat level: Hot. Thermonuclear heat with a Caribbean kick: tamarind and island spices, bhut jolokia chiles. “Long-lasting taste and brutality,” says Bumblefoot, “Not for beginners.” A 1st Place Winner at ZestFest Awards 2013.
  • UNCOOL. Heat level: Medium. A twist of curry, cumin and citrus, inspired by Bumblefoot’s tours of the Far East.
  • BUMBLEBABE. Heat level: Mild. “A hot sauce with women’s pleasure in mind,” says Bumblefoot, “chocolate & cherry, indulgent and edgy, sweet and fiery, like the rocker ladies that inspired it.”
    Order them at



    RECIPE: Beer Barbecue Sauce

    Add beer to your homemade barbecue sauce. Photo by EasyBuy4U | IST.


    Spell it barbecue, barbeque or BBQ: May is National Barbecue Month.

    Here’s a delicious homemade beer barbecue sauce from Samuel Adams. You don’t have to be a beer drinker to enjoy it: The malt and hops provide a subtle lift in flavor and complexity that everyone can appreciate.



  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 bottle Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste


    1. HEAT all ingredients in a large sauce pan; stir and cover.

    2. REDUCE by half and simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

    3. STRAIN and serve with your favorite grilled meat or poultry.

    You don’t have to use lager; any beer you have on hand will work well, although a more mild wheat beer will have a different impact on the sauce than a hoppy IPA.

    Personally, we’re in the IPA camp. If you barbecue a lot, try different types of beer in the sauce. You may find that what you like to cook with differs from what you like to drink.


    Add a bottle to the sauce, then drink the rest with your barbecue. Scattered in front pf the beer are the barley and hops used to make it. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ketchup

    A while ago, we tasted 32 different tomato ketchups to find “the best” (here are the ketchup reviews).

    Many of these were small, artisanal brands and more pricey than supermarket ketchup. But one of the top winners, Muir Glen, is widely available (at most stores that sell natural and organic foods; we get it at Whole Foods), one of the least expensive, and is both organic and kosher.

    But how about making ketchup at home, just as you make salad dressing. It’s just as easy. There are five basic ingredients: tomato paste and purée, vinegar, sweetener and seasonings.

    It’s fun to make ketchup. You can cut back on salt, avoid high fructose corn syrup and reduce the sweeteners in general, while adding favorite spices.


    Heinz Ketchup
    contains tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavors.


    Homemade ketchup is a worthy match for a top-quality hot dog. Photo of Fearless Franks courtesy Niman Ranch.


    The ingredients are pretty much the same for Hunt’s Ketchup: tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and natural flavors.

    Del Monte Ketchup uses regular con syrup instead of HFCS. Otherwise, the list looks familiar: tomato concentrate, corn syrup, distilled vinegar, salt, natural flavorings, onion powder, spice and garlic powder.

    These ketchups tend to deliver sweetness first, then tomato flavor, and not much else. You can greatly improve the flavor of homemade ketchup by using:


    Serve waffle fries with your homemade
    ketchup. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato

  • Better Vinegar. Mass-produced ketchups use distilled white vinegar. Cider vinegar makes ketchup taste so much better.
  • Better Sweetener. Instead of HFCS or the more benign corn syrup, both of which deliver bland sweetness, use flavorful brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. Or cut calories and lower the glycemic index with agave or a non-caloric sweetener like stevia or aspartame.
  • Favorite Spices. Add chilies, hot sauce, pepper and other spices; we love curry ketchup. Add them in small amounts, letting the spices meld; taste before adding more. You also get to use real onion instead of onion powder.


  • 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar or substitute*
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Other seasonings of choice
    *If you are using a different sweetener, the proportions may be different. Add a smaller amount and adjust to taste.


    1. PURÉE tomatoes and liquid until smooth.

    2. COOK onion in olive oil over moderate heat, stirring until softened (about 8 minutes). Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and other seasonings.

    3. SIMMER, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 1 hour. Stir more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent scorching.

    4. PURÉE ketchup in 2 batches until smooth. Chill, covered, at least 2 hours for flavors to develop. Adjust seasonings.

    Continue to work on the recipe, switching the proportions of vinegar, sweetener and spices, until you define your signature recipe. Then, don’t give it out: It’s your secret.



    RECIPE: Barbecue Sauce Secrets Revealed

    It’s easy to make your own barbecue sauce. Photo by Eddie Berman | IST.


    If you want a balsamic vinaigrette, mix two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with three tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s that simple: You don’t have to spend $5.00 on a bottle of salad dressing.

    If you want barbecue chicken, mix up ketchup, chili powder, garlic powder, mustard, onion powder, paprika, salt, sugar and any other favorite spices (allspice, chipotle, cinnamon, thyme, mace). It’s that simple; you don’t have to spend $5.00 on a bottle of barbecue sauce.

    Here’s the easy recipe from, a website dedicated to teaching families the basics of cooking.

    When you make your own barbecue sauce, you avoid ingredients like added high fructose corn syrup and extra salt. To avoid all HFCS, buy an organic ketchup or a natural ketchup like Muir Glen; the big brands tend to be loaded with HFCS. See our review of the best ketchup brands.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 6 chicken thighs (or any parts)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • BBQ seasoning to taste (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ounce onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. RINSE chicken parts and trim any excess fat. Pat dry with a paper towel.

    3. COAT each piece with the BBQ seasoning mix and reserve.

    4. HEAT the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan until a medium to high heat is reached. Sear chicken on all sides for even browning. Reserve in a baking pan.

    5. Sweat the onions and garlic, using a little of the oil in the sauté pan.

    6. ADD the ketchup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne to the sauté pan. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

    7. LADLE the liquid mixture over the chicken, making sure to coat each piece.

    Serve with potato salad, fresh carrots and celery sticks.



  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dark chili powder
  • 12 tablespoons paprika
  • 6 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 12 tablespoons granulated sugar (use less if you like things less sweet)


    1. COMINE all ingredients thoroughly.

    2. STORE in jar with tight fitting lid.


    Barbecue seasoning. Photo courtesy Savory Spice Shop.




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