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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Condiments

Frugal Kitchens 101
Typically, condiments are used to enhance the dining experience by adding a punch of flavour or even a contrast in flavour.  Condiments include soy sauce, ketchup, relish, pickles, mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, horseradish, mustard and some sauces (eg. old fashioned chili sauce, guacamole, salsas).  However, caramelized onions, chopped onions, bacon bits, fresh grated parmesan cheese and seared mushrooms could be considered condiments depending on their use.  Store bought condiments can be either a bargain or rather expensive.  For the most part, making your own condiments is less expensive than store bought.  The nice thing about homemade condiments is you can tailor them to your needs getting a product you can't buy in the grocery stores.  Here are a few tips for saving on condiments.

  • soy sauce -  Soy sauce is high in sodium and it is one food where brand name does seem to matter as far as taste.  I have never found a store brand that taste as good as the brand name.  
  • ketchup - By far the cheapest, tastiest ketchup is homemade especially if you grow your own tomatoes and homemade doesn't contain HFCS.  If buying ketchup in the grocery store, buy the largest size possible based on unit price.  Some brand names are available in institutional sizes that usually are less expensive than smaller containers.  When you get home, divide the ketchup down into smaller sized containers then freeze all but one.  Some have asked if they can home can store bought ketchup in smaller sized mason jars.  The answer is yes BUT I don't recommend it.  The end result is fine but you still have all the preservatives, artificial colours and HFCS in the product, something I feel is contrary to the ideals of home canning.
  • relish -  Relish is incredible cheap and easy to make.  They are processed in a BWB canner meaning you don't need an expensive pressure canner to process relish.  Cucumbers are easy to grow but if you don't grow them, the grocery stores often put field cucumbers on sale.  Four or five cucumbers make a lot of relish so even if cucumbers are bought in the grocery store, it is still cheaper to make your own.
  • pickles - Homemade pickles are simply delightful.  I make freezer pickles (a bread and butter, no muss pickle), pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled beans and dill pickles.  I also buy dill pickles when I run out and by far the large 1 gallon jars are the cheapest at about $3 per jar.  Really they are even cheaper than homemade but they do contain artificial colour and preservatives.  Both dill and bread & butter pickles are available in the gallon jars.
  • mayonnaise or Miracle Whip -  If you have 2 minutes of time you can easily make your own mayonnaise or Miracle Whip at a fraction of the cost of store bought.  The taste is incredible!
  • mustard - By far the most common mustard is the generic yellow.  Buy this in the institutional size and refrigerate.  It will keep for ages.  You can make a cheaper and tastier mustard using mustard powder and most gourmet mustards are less expensive if you make your own.  
  • horseradish - Unless you grow your own horseradish it is easier to buy prepared horseradish in the grocery store.  As soon as horseradish is made it begins to lose potency so by it as fresh as you can and in a small enough size to use up fairly quickly.  Use horseradish to make homemade horsey sauce and seafood sauce or use it in dips.
  • sauces - Quite often sauces are used as a condiment.  Make these yourself for unique and inexpensive condiments.

2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Thanks for the post, GG.
So how do you suggest the ketchup then? Only make it as you need it?

Garden Gnome said...

I highly recommend making your own ketchup if you are avoiding high fructose corn syrup. If making your own or even buying a large container, divide it down into what you would use in a week or so. Freeze in those portions and thaw as needed.