Can you imagine a BLT without mayonnaise or a hot dog without ketchup? Would salads be nearly as satisfying without that tangy vinaigrette? Our favorite condiments transform dishes from dull to delicious, from ordinary to original! When you take the time to make something from scratch, shouldn’t you complement it with something homemade?

If you need a little inspiration, the perfect workshop is just around the corner. “Make It, Don’t Buy it: DIY Condiments & Sauces” at Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center in Pleasant Hill on June 15 will teach you how to make your own mayo, mustard, ketchup, bbq sauce, and even almond milk and vanilla extract in time for your Fourth of July picnic. For more info and to register, go here.

Store-bought items can taste more processed, and it’s hard to know what you’re really getting. Along with that dipping sauce or marinade, you may be serving your friends and family a generous dose of sugar, salt, and/or preservatives. Summer is the perfect time to perk up your palate and experiment with healthy, DIY (do it yourself) recipes, especially when your local farmers’ markets make fresh and organic produce more accessible and tempting than ever.

Homemade alternatives let you control what goes into your recipe, not to mention your body. For those with dietary restrictions, this can be especially important. Ingredient lists may hide items that don’t fit in with allergy concerns, a low-sodium diet, or diabetes. Savory spaghetti sauces, for example, are notorious for including sugar. And where did those tomatoes come from? Are you getting a serving of pesticides with your pasta?

Environmentally, there’s also some “collateral damage” when you buy a myriad of bottles of dressings and sauces. Who hasn’t experienced the fridge phenomenon of bottles languishing until they are long expired or half-used, only to be discarded en masse sooner or later? When you whip up an appetizing aioli yourself, you control what goes in it and make only as much as you need, so there’s less waste, both with ingredients and containers. De-cluttering your fridge is an added bonus!

Best of all, DIY recipes are usually pretty basic and straightforward to make. You probably have most of the ingredients already on hand. You can make just what you need without unwelcome items such as high fructose corn syrup or additives you can’t pronounce. Did I mention how much fresher tasting and more delicious they are? 

Here are some links if you can't make the workshop or want to make something today!




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