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MarketStEl

Condiment Creep

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The sequence of posts that began at No. 71 in johnnyd's foodblog got me to thinking:

Condiments are the culinary equivalent of kudzu. Or maybe they breed like rabbits.

In any case, give 'em enough room and time, and eventually, they take over all the available shelf space in your pantry.

I figure the process works something like this:

You're about to make a dish that requires a certain type of condiment sauce, oil, or vinegar. You go out to the store to buy a bottle.

Of course, the recipe doesn't require the entire bottle, so what's left goes on your shelf.

Some time later, you're out shopping when something new or unusual catches your eye on a shelf somewhere. You think to yourself, "Hmmm, I'd like to try this and see what it tastes like." Into your cart and onto your shelf it goes, there to await its star turn.

On your birthday, or on Christmahaunkwanzaakah, someone--a friend, relative, or co-worker--buys you a bottle of an exotic __________, knowing that you are particularly fond of sauces of this type. You thank the giver profusely and sock it away, making a mental note to be sure (never) to invite him over for dinner (sometime in the future).

Before you know it, you're like me (and H.J. Heinz)--you have 57 varieties of oils and sauces of varying kinds, including multiple varieties of vinegars, mustards, salsas, marinades, oils and hot sauces, and maybe even more than one variety of ketchup (in addition to Heinz, I have a bottle of La Niña Spicy Ketchup I bought three weeks ago), scattered throughout your pantry and fridge.

I'm only presenting my census data in the aggregate:

14 hot sauces, including 5 habanero sauces, one Louisiana-type, one cayenne sauce, two Huy Fong sauces (sriracha and chili garlic) and two varieties of Tabasco (but not the original--I need to restock it)

7 oils, including the basic cooking oils (canola, soybean) and the buttery-flavored canola oil for popping popcorn

6 vinegars, including 3 rice vinegars

5 types of mustard, one mixed with mayo

3 soy sauces, counting teriyaki as a soy sauce

3 marinades

2 sweet chili sauces -- one American, one Asian

2 bottled salad dressings, one left by a guest who brought a tossed salad to a dinner

2 pancake syrups, one "lite"

2 barbecue sauces

2 steak sauces (Heinz 57 and A1)

2 varieties of ketchup

1 jar of salsa

1 jar of mayonnaise (Hellman's, natch)

1 jar of hoisin sauce

1 bottle of fish sauce

1 bottle of Worcestershire sauce

1 chutney

Angostura bitters

Top this, why don'tcha? I'm sure some of you can.

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I am not competitive enough to offer up my list but I spent a week in a cabin this summer and one of the most wonderful memories is of opening up a fridge which harboured not a single condiment!

I am so tempted to clear out my fridge of its complement of assorted bottles, jars and tupperware containers and start afresh but it will never happen - I just need to find a way to use some of them up. Like yours they were often bought because I needed 1 tablespoon of something or other!

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OK, 14 hot sauces puts you in a league of your own!

I've got a lot of stuff but you're beating me by about 10 bottles.

I have less sauces,mustard and oils but more in the way of chutneys (6), pickles (7) and various asian bean pastes and japanese sprinkles.

I am trying to use them all up at the moment though.

I've been holding myself back from buying anything new until I can make some room.

There are always those bottles up the back, that you never use, that you get sick of looking at and have to throw away at some point.

At the moment for me it's a large bottle of Hungarian black cherry syrup that tastes like almond extract!

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I did not realize I have a seasoning kudzu issue until this thread.

I think I might need an intervention.

I can't even begin to list them.

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I'm only presenting my census data in the aggregate:

14 hot sauces, including 5 habanero sauces, one Louisiana-type, one cayenne sauce, two Huy Fong sauces (sriracha and chili garlic) and two varieties of Tabasco (but not the original--I need to restock it)

7 oils, including the basic cooking oils (canola, soybean) and the buttery-flavored canola oil for popping popcorn

6 vinegars, including 3 rice vinegars

5 types of mustard, one mixed with mayo

3 soy sauces, counting teriyaki as a soy sauce

3 marinades

2 sweet chili sauces -- one American, one Asian

2 bottled salad dressings, one left by a guest who brought a tossed salad to a dinner

2 pancake syrups, one "lite"

2 barbecue sauces

2 steak sauces (Heinz 57 and A1)

2 varieties of ketchup

1 jar of salsa

1 jar of mayonnaise (Hellman's, natch)

1 jar of hoisin sauce

1 bottle of fish sauce

1 bottle of Worcestershire sauce

1 chutney

Angostura bitters

Top this, why don'tcha?  I'm sure some of you can.

Only 2 bottles of barbecue sauce? You've been away from KC for too long. My friends and family know I like to 'cue, so I get gift sets of 4 bottles at a single pop. The garage fridge is full of 'em. Of course, most aren't very good but I can't throw them away.

Plus my wife and kids rarely look in the fridge to see if there's an open bottle of ketchup so I have several open bottles at any time. Good thing I'm a ketchup bottle half full kind of guy.

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Don't forget about what homemade condiments might be in your fridge or freezer too! I usually have one or two homemade thai curry pastes, several types of homemade bbq sauce, pesto, several salsas (especially now in tomato and tomatillo season), rendered lard, duck fat, beef tallow (since cooking oils seem to count), always some sort of leftover gravy or reduction sauce that I plan to use for something but never do, and more. Plus in the cabinets, home canned pickles, hot sauces, relishes, etc.

If we include pickles do we include olives?

And if syrup and chutney count, do jam/jellies/fruit pastes/honey count too? I have five kinds of honey right now. Nut butters/tahini?

Also for those of us who shop at places like Costco, I'm sure many of us have duplicates, since often they are packaged in twos (like right now I know I have two giant bottles of Worstershire, two things of regular yellow mustard, etc.--the extras of which are actually sitting in the dining room for lack of space).

And as for homemade salad dressings, I have not one, but two almost empty dijon jars waiting to become salad dressing shakers as well as a jar of just beet juice without the beets (there's a use for everything, you know :raz: )!

And if you're going to include bitters, does one include things like vermouth, sherry, marsala, not to mention wine, beer, etc. from the liquor cabinet that get used in cooking a lot (in our house that would also include rum, bourbon, calvados, tequila, and a whole lot more).

As of late, my cabinets are so overrun with condiments (and herbs and spices--don't even go there :biggrin: ) that many are just sitting on the kitchen counter for lack of shelf space.

I shudder to think if I actually compiled a list (both in terms of time it would take and the length).

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My husband knows not to be standing behind the refrigerator door when I open it lest he be knocked to the floor by the weight of the contents of the door shelves. I'm pretty sure some of those condiments came with the fridge but, like Anna N, I know I will never discard them.

I'm very guilty of shopping for jars, cans, and tubes of goodies when I travel. I stash them safely on my pantry shelf and wait for the perfect "special occasion" in which to consume them. Sometimes I admire them for so long, they are outdated by the time I decide the occasion is special enough. :angry:

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I'm only presenting my census data in the aggregate:

...

5 types of mustard, one mixed with mayo

Sandy - can you explain this one?

I have a lot of mustard (about 14 different kinds in my pantry right now, thanks to too much wine at last year's Napa Valley mustard festival - story for different thread) but don't believe I've ever seen any mixed with mayo.

Is this like those strange experiments from the 80's with pre-mixed peanut butter and jelly?

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I'm only presenting my census data in the aggregate:

...

5 types of mustard, one mixed with mayo

Sandy - can you explain this one?

I have a lot of mustard (about 14 different kinds in my pantry right now, thanks to too much wine at last year's Napa Valley mustard festival - story for different thread) but don't believe I've ever seen any mixed with mayo.

Is this like those strange experiments from the 80's with pre-mixed peanut butter and jelly?

Probably referring to something like Hellmann's/Best Foods dijonnaise. Never had it myself, but I've seen it on store shelves.

By necessity I only have a few condiments around, but you bet if I could I would have a ton. Right now it's just (from memory) 2 oils (olive and canola), red wine vinegar, honey, peanut butter, strawberry jam, unsalted butter, dijon mustard, mayo, soy sauce, sriracha...ummmm. That might be it. Oh! Maple syrup, and homemade raspberry mint syrup that I need to find a use for (other than just pouring it on ice cream).

Edited to comment on the fact that most of my condiments happen to be sweet. Mmm, sugar.


Edited by eskay (log)

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Speaking of condiments, and things that happen when one has too many of them, I have a question one of you might be able to answer. I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar that's been in my pantry for about 10 months. It's been fully sealed and kept in a cool dark place--yet the vinegar has almost completely solidified, and the now-solid mass has pinky fingernail-sized (now-solid) bubbles on the surface. What on earth? I could understand this if it had been partially open, but actually it's been closed so tightly that I have trouble opening it. Is there any way of reviving it, or should I throw it away?

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I'm only presenting my census data in the aggregate:

...

5 types of mustard, one mixed with mayo

Sandy - can you explain this one?

I have a lot of mustard (about 14 different kinds in my pantry right now, thanks to too much wine at last year's Napa Valley mustard festival - story for different thread) but don't believe I've ever seen any mixed with mayo.

Is this like those strange experiments from the 80's with pre-mixed peanut butter and jelly?

Probably referring to something like Hellmann's/Best Foods dijonnaise. Never had it myself, but I've seen it on store shelves.

Precisely. It was French's answer to Dijonnaise, GourMayo.

The supermarket where I bought it stopped carrying it, but I did try all three varieties. I reached the conclusion that if I wanted to combine wasabi paste or chipotle powder or Dijon mustard with mayonnaise, it'd be no more difficult to do it myself, and the mayo would be better.

However, I reached that conclusion before I attacked the Creamy Dijon variety; that bottle is the surviving legacy of that experiment.

And since we've added pickles and homemade condiments, make that 60. I have a tub of homemade piri-piri sauce (that I haven't tried yet since making it), two jars of gherkins, and a container of what I guess you might call a homemade aioli: I combined Hellman's mayonnaise with the Korean chili pepper sauce (oops, make that 61, and 16 hot sauces) I buy regularly at the H-Mart in Upper Darby. It's sweeter than sriracha, which is on the sweet side for hot pepper sauce, and that makes it very good for mixing with mayo and putting on a tomato slice.

The ratio, if anyone's interested, is about 2 tablespoons chili sauce per half cup of mayo.

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When we remodeled your kitchen we pretty much got rid of most things and started fresh. A year and a half later and my pantry is over flowing. I was thinking about this not long ago and thought, you know the pantry is the soul of the kitchen. I can whip up many different ethnic dishes on a whim with all these condiments at hand. I have yet to take inventory so no lists available but it would be a daunting task.

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When I read the intro to this thread, I thought it sounded like fun. However, reality has caught up with me and I now realize that I don't think I could count all the condiments that are in my kitchen, pantry and refrigerators. I have one refrigerator just for condiments, jams, jellies and cheeses but occasionally some of them migrate to the big fridge.

Part of my problem is that friends don't just give me ONE condiment, they give me collections whenever they come across something different, odd or sometimes, just plain weird.

I recently received a box of stuff from Capetown, SA because my friends did not want to take a change on packing the things in their luggage. (I can understand why, after opening one jar and having to air out the kitchen)

Then there is all the stuff I have collected on my own.

I have been a member of the Chile-Heads list for years and get regular bulletins from The Mustard Museum.

I make at least an annual pilgramage to Light My Fire, the condiment (mainly hot sauces) shop in the Los Angeles Farmers Market.

I don't think I have ever managed to get out of that store with less than twenty selections.

The area in which I live has some fantastic ethnic markets, middle eastern, Indian, Phillipine, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, South and Central America as well as the Mexican supermarkets and carnicerias.

And then, there is Trader Joe's with a great selection of condiments.

I think I will pull a selection out of the pantry and take some photos. Tomorrow...


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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Speaking of condiments, and things that happen when one has too many of them, I have a question one of you might be able to answer.  I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar that's been in my pantry for about 10 months.  It's been fully sealed and kept in a cool dark place--yet the vinegar has almost completely solidified, and the now-solid mass has pinky fingernail-sized (now-solid) bubbles on the surface.  What on earth?  I could understand this if it had been partially open, but actually it's been closed so tightly that I have trouble opening it.  Is there any way of reviving it, or should I throw it away?

I've never had a bottle of balsamic do this, or any vinegar do that come to think of it. So you know how it goes: when in doubt, throw it out.

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Speaking of condiments, and things that happen when one has too many of them, I have a question one of you might be able to answer.  I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar that's been in my pantry for about 10 months.  It's been fully sealed and kept in a cool dark place--yet the vinegar has almost completely solidified, and the now-solid mass has pinky fingernail-sized (now-solid) bubbles on the surface.  What on earth?  I could understand this if it had been partially open, but actually it's been closed so tightly that I have trouble opening it.  Is there any way of reviving it, or should I throw it away?

I've never had a bottle of balsamic do this, or any vinegar do that come to think of it. So you know how it goes: when in doubt, throw it out.

I looked through my collection of balsamic vinegars, some quite ancient, and found none with anything such as you describe. Many have sediment at the bottom, but no more than expected.

It is unlikely it would be a vinegar "mother" because the producers in Modena are scrupulous about removing it before the vinegar is transferred to the aging barrels. In fact, they jealously guard this important factor in the production.

If the product you have is one of the greater aged true balsamics that initially had a syrupy consistency, it has a very high sugar content and it is quite possible that some of the sugar has crystalized.

If you can fish one of the "bubbles" out and it feels gritty or is solid and hard, you have sugar crystals.

Crystals that form in the company of acids take a different shape from those of plain sugar water. I had something similar in an unopened jar of spinach salad dressing with bacon. Each bacon bit at the top of the jar was surrounded by a "pearl" of sugar. When heated the sugar dissolved back into the liquid and the dressing was fine.

You might try placing the bottle (with the stopper removed) in warm water - not over direct heat - it is best to place the bottle in a container that won't allow it to tip over and add warm-to-hot water to about 2/3 up on the bottle. Periodically pour off some of the cooling water and add more hot water.

If you have a small crock pot you can use that set on low - (this is what I use for jellies, jams, honey, which have developed crystals).

If the lumps dissolve it is a pretty convincing tip-off that it is sugar. If unaffected by heat, toss it.

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Speaking of condiments, and things that happen when one has too many of them, I have a question one of you might be able to answer.  I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar that's been in my pantry for about 10 months.  It's been fully sealed and kept in a cool dark place--yet the vinegar has almost completely solidified, and the now-solid mass has pinky fingernail-sized (now-solid) bubbles on the surface.  What on earth?  I could understand this if it had been partially open, but actually it's been closed so tightly that I have trouble opening it.  Is there any way of reviving it, or should I throw it away?

I've never had a bottle of balsamic do this, or any vinegar do that come to think of it. So you know how it goes: when in doubt, throw it out.

I looked through my collection of balsamic vinegars, some quite ancient, and found none with anything such as you describe. Many have sediment at the bottom, but no more than expected.

It is unlikely it would be a vinegar "mother" because the producers in Modena are scrupulous about removing it before the vinegar is transferred to the aging barrels. In fact, they jealously guard this important factor in the production.

If the product you have is one of the greater aged true balsamics that initially had a syrupy consistency, it has a very high sugar content and it is quite possible that some of the sugar has crystalized.

If you can fish one of the "bubbles" out and it feels gritty or is solid and hard, you have sugar crystals.

Crystals that form in the company of acids take a different shape from those of plain sugar water. I had something similar in an unopened jar of spinach salad dressing with bacon. Each bacon bit at the top of the jar was surrounded by a "pearl" of sugar. When heated the sugar dissolved back into the liquid and the dressing was fine.

You might try placing the bottle (with the stopper removed) in warm water - not over direct heat - it is best to place the bottle in a container that won't allow it to tip over and add warm-to-hot water to about 2/3 up on the bottle. Periodically pour off some of the cooling water and add more hot water.

If you have a small crock pot you can use that set on low - (this is what I use for jellies, jams, honey, which have developed crystals).

If the lumps dissolve it is a pretty convincing tip-off that it is sugar. If unaffected by heat, toss it.

Thanks for the advice! This balsamic was not a particularly aged one, so it seems unlikely that it was super-sugary. Also, I actually already tried putting the bottle in a bowl of hot water, and saw no results. I guess I'm tossing it. Perplexing, though.

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Only 2 bottles of barbecue sauce? You've been away from KC for too long. My friends and family know I like to 'cue, so I get gift sets of 4 bottles at a single pop. The garage fridge is full of 'em.  Of course, most aren't very good but I can't throw them away. 

Plus my wife and kids rarely look in the fridge to see if there's an open bottle of ketchup so I have several open bottles at any time. Good thing I'm a ketchup bottle half full kind of guy.

That tally is down from six bottles of barbecue sauce, three of which dated to my last trip to Kansas City (June 2006, my 30th high school reunion*) and three of which came off local supermarket shelves. I am now down to one from each category: a bottle of essensia Southwestern Chipotle sauce -- not bad for a supermarket sauce (HFCS is the fifth ingredient listed :raz: and it does have a nice peppery taste that the syrup doesn't overwhelm) -- and a bottle of Gates' Extra Hot that I'm saving for a sauce-worthy occasion.

I just polished off a bottle of Cattlemen's that I had purchased because I heard this sauce was pretty good (IIRC, this is or was a Sysco product, and I guess restaurant owners got such good feedback about it from customers that they decided to sell it at retail); it was syrupy sweet, not molasses-y sweet, and had no discernible kick to it. That bottle had been sitting in my fridge for nearly 18 months while I went through a bottle of Charlie Podebarac's Cowtown sauce (real good, nice vinegar-and-pepper tang) and a bottle of Fiorello's Jack Stack Spicy (a little sweeter than Cowtown, and unusual for KC spicy sauces in that it derived its heat from a hot pepper sauce). I finally decided to put it out of its misery on some roast pork I had cooked week before last.

*I had a load of fun. Have I told any of you that I have one of the co-CEOs of Russell Stover Candies for a classmate, and the other (his brother) was in the class ahead of ours? We didn't travel in the same circles in high school (yes, there are cliques even in a class of only 52 boys), but he greeted me like a long lost friend when I returned for the reunion. I have a photo of him from the reunion in an online photo album; link gladly provided if anyone's curious.

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I have the creep, as well. I've seriously considered gathering up all of the powders, rubs and seasonings and dumping them into a catch-all jar to use as my own BAM!-type seasoning on anything and everything. That'd be one way to use it all up. :hmmm:

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I do that with the various salsas remaining in jars following a party.

For some reason we never seem to put out the entire jar and each will have 1/4 to 1/3 left in the jar.

I also combine similar jams and jellies, i.e. berry jams, peach, pear and apricot preserves. Pumpkin and apple butter. And so on.

One of my most inspired mixtures was 1/3 pint of spicy bread and butter pickles with 1/3 pint of Italian cherry peppers and a bit less than 1/3 pint of mixed vegetable pickles.

After the mixture had about three weeks to "blend" the flavor was more than the sum of the parts. They lasted three days.

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We are in the process of moving. My goal was to use up most of the open jars and bottles of sauces, vinegars, oils, and spices before we moved.

We move two weeks from tomorrow. Let's just say that my spices and condiment shelves do not look discernably different from how they looked about two months ago.

In my defense, there's been less time for cooking than I expected due to house showings and the like. But to be fair, the number of bags of frozen proto pesto I've found at the bottom of the deep freeze makes me very glad I planted no basil this year.

I've accepted that a lot of them are simply going to be tossed when the final frenzy of packing happens.

And I'd say I'm not going to let this happen in the new house, but I'd be lying.

Marcia.

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I went to look in my oil/vinegar/mirin/shoyu shelf in my kitchen after first reading this post, and realized that I have far too much in there. I'll have to go through it after the kiddos are asleep.

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Oh man do I feel better after reading this thread. I feel like I'm in group therapy. I can explain away the 5 varieties of steak sauce, 10 varieties of Barbeque sauce and 15 or so spice blends I have amassed. My brother-in-law manages two spice mixing and sauce blending plants for a major food processor and he bestows us with "gifts". But my sudden fetish with making Thai food put me over the condiment top. And I probably should have stepped away from the olive oil and balsamic vinegar store where you could taste everything you were buying.

I think I'll go home and reinforce the duct tape holding the refridgerator door racks in place.

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I think ours multiply by themselves in the middle of the night. Some night I'm going to stay up and see if I can catch them at it.

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      Whizz until purée like about 2 minutes.

       
      In a sauté pan over medium heat add 60 ml sesame oil (gingelly), when it's hot but not smoking add 1 tsp black mustard seeds.   

       
      Quickly cover the pan to prevent escape and sizzle for a minute.

       
      Add 1 tsp of urad dal (black lentils, skinned and split they are light grey).

       
      Fry until golden, another minute or so.

       
      Throw in about 20 curry leaves. These splatter so cover the pan again. 

       
      Lower the heat and add the  blender contents.

       
      Simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until you get a runny jam consistency.
       
      Ta da !

    • By HoneyMustard
      Pennstation's Honey Mustard taste so good, but they don't sell it in stores like Big Boy Frisch's sells their tartar sauce.

      I am assuming they buy it in bulk from a certain name brand. Does anyone know what that brand is or at least a similar Honey Mustard recipe?
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