St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Summer means grilling. Grilling means hot dogs and hamburgers. Hot dogs and hamburgers mean mustard and ketchup and maybe mayonnaise.
You can always go to the store and buy the stuff that comes in a plastic jar. That way, you get to top your lovingly crafted hamburgers and hot dogs with plastic-jar stuff.
And that's fine if you like high-fructose corn syrup, tartaric acid (admittedly, it isn't as bad as it sounds) and calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. But why use the store-bought products when you can make them all yourself?
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I will be the first to acknowledge that commercially available ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise are actually very good. But the condiments that come out of your kitchen are truly better. Plus, when you tell everyone that you made them yourself, you get that special satisfaction that comes when your friends and family look at you as if you were crazy.
But the biggest reason to use homemade condiments is that your hamburgers, hot dogs and other specialties deserve them.
I first set out to make ketchup because, frankly, I'd never made it before. My only personal experience with homemade ketchup comes from repeated viewings of "Meet Me in St. Louis." Marjorie Main, who plays the family maid, is making ketchup in a big kettle, and each character in turn tastes it and pronounces it too sweet, too tart, too spicy or too bland.
That scene always made homemade ketchup seem special to me.
I found a recipe in "America's Cook Book," which was published by the New York Herald Tribune Home Institute and first came out in 1937 (my copy is from 1943). If you're going to make homemade ketchup, you might as well go old-fashioned, right?
Making it did not take as long as I had feared. I had visions of standing over a stove all day long, stirring and stirring a kettle. And frequent stirring is, in fact, required -- the ketchup will burn if you don't -- so I ended up obsessively stirring mine every 10 to 15 minutes. But the good news is that an extended cooking time over a low heat, which is what I assumed it would take, actually turns ketchup an ugly brown.
To keep mine bright and red, I had it bubbling merrily for only about two hours. And yes, that is longer than it would take to go to a store and buy a plastic jar, but the store-bought stuff would not be nearly as flavorful and complex as the ketchup you make yourself. This stuff wows your mouth. Picking a number at random, I'd say it tastes as if it had 57 varieties of flavor all melded and blended together. It's wonderful.
Next up was mustard. I like mustard, so I made two different kinds, a German-style whole-grain mustard with horseradish and a classic Dijon.
Actually, it wasn't exactly a classic Dijon. According to "The Mustard Book" by Jan Roberts-Dominguez, French law mandates that true Dijon mustard must be made with a specific type of machine that is sold only to commercial mustard producers. So I made a mustard that is, shall we say, Dijonish.
It requires two days of soaking your mustard seeds and an additional three or four weeks of the mustard mellowing in the refrigerator until you get the familiar, smooth taste of Dijon. But it is definitely worth the wait.
Mustard seeds have a sharp taste and can even be harsh. The hottest are black mustard seeds, followed by the brown variety and then the most familiar yellow, but even the yellow seed can be too strong for mild Dijon mustard unless you manage to temper them. Working with a man whose company produces mustard, Roberts-Dominguez came up with a clever way to do that.
She cooks them at a low temperature for four hours in a slow cooker. By the time they were done, most of their innate spicy heat had dissipated.
On the other hand, the German-style mustard keeps its sharpness. Its seeds, too, need to soak for two days (in dark ale, and how fun is that?), and then it is mixed with other good things: a bit of sugar, spices and salt.
But the ingredient that really defines this mustard is the horseradish. Horseradish and mustard are a natural combination, as is evident from a number of horseradish mustards on the market. Most everything that mustard goes well with, mustard with horseradish in it goes even better.
I finished up with the homemade mayonnaise, and really there is no reason not to make this at home whenever you want some mayo. It's easy, it's fast (you can make it in a few minutes) and its bright, creamy taste is infinitely better than anything from the store.
Mayonnaise requires just three main ingredients: eggs, oil and magic. The magic is what binds the drops of oil to the protein in the egg yolks, somehow (magically!) creating the rich, smooth sauce we call mayonnaise.
Just a few other ingredients are all you need to give the mayo its zest and its pep. A bit of salt. A dash of pepper. A dollop of mustard. A splash of lemon juice.
That's it. Mix these in with the eggs and the oil, and you get a condiment that is pure magic.
4 quarts peeled fresh tomatoes or 5 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, see note
3 red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons celery salt
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 cups white vinegar
Note: The better the tomatoes, the better the ketchup will be. Use fresh tomatoes when they are at their peak, or high-quality canned tomatoes.
1. In a stockpot or large Dutch oven, cook tomatoes, peppers and onions together over medium high heat until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes, without adding water. Mash with a potato masher (this will help the tomatoes break down later). Add salt, sugar, celery salt, mustard and paprika. Tie allspice, cloves and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth or place in a spice infuser or simply place them in a sieve that dips into the liquid, and add to pot.
2. Cook at a medium to rapid simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Long, slow cooking gives an undesirable dark color. Add vinegar and continue simmering and stirring until thick, about 1 more hour. Puree in a blender for a smooth, finished ketchup; otherwise leave slightly chunky for a rustic style.
3. Store in clean, sterilized jars with airtight lids (canning jars, properly sealed, work best) in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months.
Yield: 3 quarts
Per (1 tablespoon) serving: 8 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no fiber; 114 mg sodium; 4 mg calcium.
-- Recipe adapted from "America's Cook Book," by the New York Herald Tribune Home Institute
CLASSIC DIJON MUSTARD
1- 1/2 cups brown mustard seeds
1 cup mustard powder
1 cup water
1 cup distilled vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
7 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 -1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. In a nonreactive (nonaluminum) pot or jar, combine the mustard seeds, mustard powder, water, vinegar and wine. Cover and soak for 48 hours, stirring once per day. Add additional water, vinegar and wine in the correct proportions if needed to maintain enough liquid to cover the seeds.
2. Pour the seeds mixture into a food processor, add garlic and process until the mixture turns to a creamy mixture flecked with seeds, about 5 or 6 minutes. Add additional water, vinegar and wine in the correct proportions if needed to keep the mustard very creamy during processing.
3. Add the mixture to a slow cooker and cook on low heat, covered, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Stir the mixture about 3 times the first hour (beware of the fumes, which are quite strong), then whenever you think of it for the remaining time. Do not allow the mixture to come to a simmer, which will create a bitter flavor.
4. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, allspice, sugar, salt, turmeric, white pepper, mace and cinnamon. Run through the food processor again, and then press through a fine-mesh sieve. The flavor will become softer and more mellow over the first 3 to 4 weeks. Mustard may be kept in airtight jars in the refrigerator for several months.
Yield: About 1-3/4 cups
Per (1 teaspoon) serving: 20 calories; 1 g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 1 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 64 mg sodium; 8 mg calcium.
-- Recipe from "The Mustard Book," by Jan Roberts-Dominguez
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 whole egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups neutral-flavored oil, such as corn or canola
Note: U.S. Department of Agriculture warns against eating raw eggs unless they have been pasteurized in the shell.
1. Place the yolks and the egg in a food processor and whir together for 30 seconds. Add the salt, mustard and lemon juice and process until blended, another few seconds. With the blade running, drizzle in the oil as slowly as you can and in as thin a stream.
2. Store mayonnaise in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: About 2-1/4 cups
Per (1 tablespoon) serving: 113 calories; 12 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 10mg cholesterol; no protein; no carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 38 mg sodium; 1 mg calcium.
-- Recipe by Daniel Neman
GERMAN-STYLE WHOLE-GRAIN MUSTARD WITH HORSERADISH
2/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup brown mustard seeds
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup dark ale
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1. In a nonreactive (nonaluminum) pot or jar, combine the yellow and brown mustard seeds, vinegar, ale, garlic and Worcestershire sauce, cover and soak for 48 hours. Add additional vinegar and ale in equal amounts if necessary to maintain enough liquid to cover the seeds.
2. Pour into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until the mustard turns into a coarse-grained but creamy mixture flecked with seeds, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add additional vinegar and ale in equal amounts if necessary to create a creamy mustard; keep in mind that it will thicken slightly upon standing. Mustard may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several months.
Yield: About 2 3/4 cups
Per (1 teaspoon) serving: 6 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 1 g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 37 mg sodium; 2 mg calcium.
-- Recipe from "The Mustard Book" by Jan Roberts-Dominguez