Homemade mayonnaise is easy to make.

There's no better way to celebrate a holiday than with family and food. With the Fourth of July Friday, many people will fire up the grill for steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs. Instead of the same old ketchup and mustard toppings, spice things up with homemade condiments.

Bottled condiments are convenient, but making your own from scratch actually is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen. Many sauces and relishes require few ingredients, little prep time and hardly any cooking.

“I do think that condiments are very easy to make, and it is one way for you to upgrade a basic meal that you may always make for family and friends,” says Linda Witt of Goldie’s Farmhouse Restaurant in Stewartsville, Mo.

Mayonnaise is a condiment that seems daunting to many, but making it really is quite simple. All Ms. Witt’s recipe requires is a large egg, lemon juice, oil, salt and white pepper. Once the ingredients are blended well, the egg transforms into a smooth, creamy spread that can be doctored up with other seasonings and spices.

Not all condiments have to be spreads. It’s easy to create a simple salsa or relish from fresh ingredients you probably already have on hand. Cookout toppings come in a wide range that can greatly affect the flavor of your meat.

“If you make hamburgers, put a bowl of pepper mayonnaise on the table for them and maybe a quick red pepper relish. Add pickled onions to a pulled pork sandwich and it gives it a little crunch and boost of flavor. I think you will be amazed at the difference a simple condiment will make,” Ms. Witt says.

Ralph Filipelli of Luna’s Fine Dining and Catering says there are several ketchup and mustard products in stores with interesting new flavors, but they can be expensive. If you create your own toppings, you get to choose which flavors to experience.

“What I like to do sometimes is almost candy an onion, add a little sugar to it. It gets a little sweet, a tad crunchy ... and then you go with the spiciest pepper jack cheese you can get, then it’s like sweet and spicy,” he says.

While flavor and ease are great reasons to try your own condiment recipes, another bonus is that you control the ingredients. Bottled ketchup and barbecue sauce, for instance, usually contain high sugar contents and are full of preservatives.

“The biggest benefit from making your own condiments is that you know what ingredients you put into them. No preservatives, MSG, excess salt or sugar. Also if you make a trip to the local farmers’ market or your own garden, you have the benefit of the freshest ingredients you can get,” Ms. Witt says.

Since there aren’t any preservatives, Ms. Witt says most homemade condiments should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator no longer than two weeks. To extend their life, Mr. Filipelli says a trick of the restaurant trade is to add about a tablespoon of the commercial product to the homemade recipe. This protects the color and helps things like mayonnaise and salad dressing stay emulsified.

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil

Put all of the ingredients except the oil into a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer or emulsion blender, adding a little oil (about a teaspoon) at a time. Incorporate each addition well before adding the next. When it starts to thicken you can start adding more oil in a steady stream while continuing to beat. Beat until all of the oil is emulsified and no oil is sitting on top. Refrigerate up to a week.

— Linda Witt

Pickled Onions

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 5 to 8 whole black peppercorns

Boil 2 cups of water and add the onion slices; let sit for one minute. Drain onions and put in bowl. In a saucepan, bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. Pour over the onions, cover and let cool. Chill onions. These should last a month or more in the refrigerator.

— Linda Witt

Homemade Ketchup

  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or use brown sugar and skip the molasses)
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup water (or to desired thickness)
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and hold overnight to combine flavors. For a richer flavor, add 1 teaspoon instant coffee. For another variation, cook half of a chopped onion in a mixture of 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar until almost dry and add to the ketchup.

— Ralph Filipelli

Horseradish Sauce

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth
  • 1 tablespoon grated horseradish
  • Salt, white pepper and lemon juice to taste

Reduce white wine, vinegar and shallots until they thicken and resemble marmalade. Add cream and reduce the liquid by a fourth. Combine cornstarch and vermouth together and add to boiling liquid. Simmer five minutes. Add horseradish and lemon juice and season to taste.

— Ralph Filipelli

Fresh Fruit Salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups diced fruit (mango, papaya, orange, apricot, plum, peach and pineapple are good choices)
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and let sit two hours before serving.

— Ralph Filipelli

Brooke Wilson can be reached at brooke.wilson@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPWilson.

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