Condiments of the season: For flavour, go straight to the sauce

Condiment queen Caroline Dafgard Widnersson: how to make your own ketchup

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BOTTLE IT UP: Condiments by Caroline Dafgard Widnersson ($24.99) Murdoch Books. Photo: Matilda Lindeblad

BOTTLE IT UP: Condiments by Caroline Dafgard Widnersson ($24.99) Murdoch Books. Photo: Matilda Lindeblad

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It's time to ketchup: Ditch the store-bought condiments and make your own tomato and brown sauce.

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DO you want sauce with that?

For me, the answer is more often than not, 'Yes please!'.

From a good dollop of ketchup on a meat pie or a satisfactory squeeze of HP Sauce on my bacon roll, to a chilli hit with a bowl of noodles or a lick of mustard in a ham sandwich I'm a huge fan of condiments.

But like many sauce fans, most of the condiments taking up real estate in my pantry and fridge door are store-bought offerings - from Asian staples like oyster and hoi sin sauce to a medley of mayonnaises and several types of mustard.

But what about making your own? According to Swedish chef, food stylist and author Aronline Dagfard Widnersson once you've tasted fresh homemade condiments you'll never go back to store-bought bottles.

"I've been interested in preserved flavours for as long as I remember - pickling, juicing, drying and conserving are just a few of my secret hobbies," Caroline says in the introduction of her new book Condiments from Murdoch Books.

She says the book is a "crash course" in making condiments yourself and a "love song" to all those flavour compliments.

According to Dagfard, too often commercial versions are loaded with extra salt, sugar, allergens and perservatives and can taste bland and uninspiring.

So why not make your own? From ketchup, sweet chilli sauce and taco seasoning to peppery American hot sauce, sizzling Tunisian harissa, tangy Dijon mustard, as well as infused vinegars, aromatic spices blends, pickles and preservces, the book includes more than 90 simple recipes that show you step by step how to make your own condiments from scratch by boiling, blending, mixing, fermenting and ageing.

As well as condiment recipes, there are also meal recipes and suggestions, like buttermilk fried chicken with mayonnaise and Ssam barbecue sauce and steamed broccolini with oyster sauce and fried shallots.

Here are two of Caroline Dafgard Widersson's recipes from the book:

Traditional ketchup 

Makes 400 ml (14 fl oz)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg tinned whole tomatoes
  • 150 ml white vinegar
  • 150 g white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 brown onion

Method

1. Blend all ingredients, except onions, with 150 ml water in a food processor until almost smooth (the sauce doesn't need to be completely smooth).

2. Combine onion and tomato sauce in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, then continuously towards the end of cooking. Remove from heat once the consistency is slightly looser than regular ketchup; it will thicken as it cools. Add salt to taste.

3. Strain through a wide-mesh sieve or metal colander to remove onion and any larger pieces of spices.

4. Pour into a sterilised bottle with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge. Keeps for about a month

English brown sauce 

Every British pub offers HP Sauce, or brown sauce, along with mustard and ketchup. It has a tomatoey and slightly acidic flavour, and is indispensible in a full English breakfast. This version has a tart undertone, which contrasts nicely with the sweetness. If you want a sweeter sauce, add another date or some more molasses. Makes 500 ml

Ingredients

  • 700 m tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
  • 3 pitted dates
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 100 ml malt vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind purée
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 pieces mace
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom
  • 1 x 3 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

2. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened.

3. Pass through a wide-mesh sieve or a metal colander to make a smooth sauce. Pour into a sterilised bottle.

4. Keeps refrigerated for about 6 months.

Recipes from Condiments by Caroline Dafgard Widnersson, photography by Matilda Lindeblad. Murdoch Books RRP $24.99

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