Edible Basics: Condiments

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PIAZZA/STYLING BY CATRINE KELTY

If you’re reading this magazine, chances are fairly good that you’re interested in the quality and origin of the food you eat. You probably have a favorite vendor at the farmers market, or subscribe to a CSA, and you do your best to eat as seasonally as possible all year round. You know that doing so not only tastes better and is better for you, but it’s better for our environment, keeps our local farmers solvent and thriving, and preserves regional farmland for agricultural use.

This commitment to local eating is particularly easy during the summer months here in New England. Besides the garden lettuce, juicy ripe tomatoes, and steamed sweet corn on the table, your backyard cookouts probably feature your favorite butcher’s housemade sausages and local, grass-fed burgers. Maybe you’ve even started baking your own buns, or making homemade kimchi or sauerkraut to top your hot dogs. So why not take a little time this early summer and make a batch of homemade condiments, too? I’ve been making my own for several years, beginning as a way to get the high fructose corn syrup and other nasty preservatives out of my family’s diet, but now we all just like the homemade versions better.

Making ketchup is no more difficult than a long-cooked tomato sauce, and freshly made mustard is such a revelation, you’ll want to toss your commercial brands in the bin. Mayonnaise from scratch can be a bit more challenging, and it gave me a headache when I first tried (and failed) to make it by hand, but with a few tricks and a good tool, I got the hang of it, and now it’s a staple in our fridge. And you’ll get all the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents you need for a week in a few spoonsful of my turmeric-heavy sweet pickle relish—and use up a few extra garden cucumbers in the process!

Every good condiment tray has a hot sauce for the chili-heads among us, so I reached out to chili expert John “Rooster” Fricke of Woods Hole’s Nobska Farm for a traditional cooked hot sauce recipe. It’s wickedly spicy and fruitier than any you’ll find in a bottle, and as a bonus he sent along a fresh, berry-laden chili pepper salsa recipe to spoon onto grilled fish or chicken.

Set out these homemade sauces and salsas at your next cookout and see for yourself how much better they taste than what’s in the typical red, yellow, and green squeezy bottles from the grocery store. And once you get through your first batch, make more to put up for the winter. You’ll want to use these all year long.

 

 

Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, vegetable gardener and managing editor of Edible Boston. She can be reached at sarah@edibleboston.com