Should You Make Your Own Condiments?
When scrolling through sites like Pinterest, it seems like cooking is taking a serious turn from quick and easy recipes to – “you must make everything from scratch!”.
Cooking from scratch is all well and good, but there still needs to be balance. No one wants to spend all of their time in the kitchen.
We need to decide when to put in the extra effort, and when to recognize that store bought will suffice.
What is a Condiment
Before getting into the reasons to consider making your own condiments, let’s look at what condiments are in the first place.
A condiment is a spice, sauce, or, preparation that is added to food to impart a particular flavor, to enhance its flavor, or in some cultures, to complement the dish. The term originally described pickled or preserved foods, but has shifted meaning over time.Wikipedia
For many, any sauce or preparation added at the end of a dish, is considered a condiment. Examples may include:
- Ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish
- Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, wasabi, horseradish
- Hummus, tzatziki, dips, salsa
In some cultures, any spice, seasoning, or even sweetener used to enhance a dish at the end is considered a condiment.
Why Make Condiments From Scratch?
Since condiments can easily be bought at the local grocery store, why would someone want to make them at home? There actually are a number of valid reasons.
- Ease: Many condiments consist of only a few ingredients and are easy to combine
- Economical: It is usually much cheaper to make condiments rather than buy them
- Ingredient Control: For those on restricted diets, who have allergies, or those who want to limit preservatives
Reasons Not to Make Home Made
Although many condiments can be made from scratch, there are many reasons why someone who opt not to:
- Time: Some condiments require a lot of time to prepare (whether active or passive)
- Ingredient Availability: Some ingredient are difficult to access
- Specialized Equipment: Specialized equipment is sometimes needed that is unavailable or expensive
- Economy of Scale: Sometimes buying larger or smaller store bought quantities is actually more economical than homemade
- Personal Comfort Zone: The idea of making certain condiments at home can make people uncomfortable – usually health and safety concerns.
It is important to consider the benefits as well as the challenges when deciding whether to make your own condiments.
I love making certain condiments (ie., mustard, hummus, bbq sauce, brown sugar) but do not make others (canned jams, vinegars).
I encourage everyone to have a good look at where they can make their own condiments. It truly is rewarding and much tastier than commercial products. But, don’t get stressed about making everything from scratch.