Salad Dressing

Salad Dressing

The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films.

- Paul Newman


It’s hot day!

On summer days like this, we really like eating salads.   They are light, easy to prepare, and we don’t need to turn on the stove!  The possibilities with salad are almost endless.

Often it might seem convenient to just buy some salad dressing from the store. But, there is another way. Making your own can be quick and easy.  There are no additives or preservatives, and you can have variety without a bunch of old salad dressing bottles cluttering your fridge door.

What’s Wrong with Store Bought Salad Dressing?

Salad dressings are like another food. You need to read the label and make sure you are comfortable eating the listed ingredients. Some brand name salad dressings may contain some questionable items.

Here is an example. The following ingredients are all found in Kraft Creamy Caesar dressing:

Water, soybean oil, Parmesan and Romano cheese, egg yolks, vinegar, sugar, salt, modified corn starch, garlic, spices and seasonings (contains wheat and soy), anchovy paste, lactic acid, lemon juice concentrate, dried onions, natural flavour, sorbic acid, xanthan gum, poly sorbate 60, dried garlic, calcium disodium EDTA.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those ingredients:

Modified Corn Starch

Spices and Seasonings

Lactic Acid

Sorbic Acid
Sorbic acid is an antimicrobial agent. It is used as a preservative. It prevents the growth of mold, yeast, and fungi. Last year, Kraft joined a growing trend of companies removing additives from their products. They said that they would be removing sorbic acid from Singles™ cheese slices. Natamycin will be the replacement.
Xanthan Gum

Polysorbate 60
Polysorbates are food additives used mainly as emulsifiers. Polysorbate 60 is used to prevent the oil from separating out.

Calcium Disodium EDTA
Calcium disodium EDTA is a commonly used a preservative and sequestrant. It binds to metals. When the metals are bound (or sequestered), they are prevented from taking part in chemical reactions that would lead to colour or flavour deterioration.

How Do You Make Your Own Salad Dressing?

Easy? Yes. A basic vinaigrette salad dressing can be made using the simple ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. In actual fact, I don’t even measure. I just adjust the quantities until I like the taste.

You can whisk all of your ingredients in a bowl, but I prefer putting everything into a small jar with a tight fitting lid and just shake it.

  • Start with the oil.  You can use pretty much any oil with a mild or neutral flavour.  I generally like olive oil, but any oil will do. Canola oil can be used.
  • Choose your acid.  There a literal dozens of possibilities here.  When in doubt, I usually go with balsamic vinegar, but you could use red or white wine vinegars, rice vinegar, lemon, lime, or orange juice.
  • Add an emulsifier.  Oil and vinegar don’t mix, and will quickly separate if an emulsifier is not user.  I like to use Dijon mustard because I almost always have some on hand, but you could try dry mustard powder, honey or eggs yolks as well.
  • Finish with some flavourings.  If you have them, chopped fresh herbs are great.  Thyme, rosemary, and oregano are particularly good.  Minced fresh or roasted garlic is another good choice.  Other possibilities include a bit of sesame oil, honey, maple syrup or anything else you think might taste good.  Salt and pepper can always be added to suit your taste.
  • Taste it.  Is it too sour?  Add something sweet.  Too sweet? Add more acid.

If you’ve made too much dressing for one night, it can be kept in the fridge for one or two days, but note is that if olive oil is used, it will solidify.  Don’t worry.  Take it out of the fridge and let it warm up.  Shake or stir well, and it’s as good as new.

Finally, if vinaigrettes are not your favourite salad dressings, creamy dressings can be made in much the same way using mayonnaise, sour cream, or yogurt as a base.

Check out my salad dressing page for some samples.

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Posted in Fresh Food, Ingredients

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