Homemade Salad Dressings

IMG_3816By Cynthia DeWitte

Finding a wholesome salad dressing at the store can be impossible. Most salad dressings include GMO ingredients.

The more I know about GMO, the more I recommend avoiding it like the plague that it is. Even though the organic salad dressings do not have GMO ingredients, they usually contain soy or canola, which are not healthy oils. The only way I have found to consistently enjoy salad dressings made with wholesome ingredients is to make them myself. It’s super easy and pretty quick. From start to cleaned up is about 10 minutes total.

There will probably be gluten in commercially made salad dressing and it will not be listed on the label.

Some distilled vinegar is derived from gluten containing grains. If you are avoiding gluten, cut out distilled vinegar. Choose apple cider vinegar instead. There may also be gluten in salad dressing from the manufacturing process. The bottom line is that most salad dressing probably have gluten, so it’s better to make you own.

My family likes a variety of salad dressings. Making salad dressings is easy, but many homemade salad dressings don’t have as long of a shelf life as commercial dressings, so you may only want to have two or three in the refrigerator at a time.

Before you start making the dressings, you will need a bottle or jar for each flavor that you plan to keep on hand. Some thicker salad dressings may be better to serve from a jar using a spoon. It is fairly easy to make up several dressings at once and store them in the refrigerator.

Salad dressing are quick to make and they taste great, but they are even better if made a couple of hours before serving.

This allows them to set and the flavors to blend better. It’s not a big deal, but if you have time, make the dressing first.

Salad dressings made with oil and vinegar or oil and water need to be shaken every time they are used. The addition of xanthan gum will help to suspend the spices in the liquid and oil so they combine well and it also thickens it somewhat for easier pouring. Xanthan gum emulsifies the oil and vinegar in vinaigrette dressings, so the oil and vinegar pour together rather than separating.

Xanthan GumSince xanthan gum is a gum, dressings with xanthan gum don’t roll off the lettuce leaves like oil or vinegar alone would.

Only a small amount of xanthan gum is needed to make salad dressing – about ½ tsp per cup of liquid and/or oil. It works great and is a useful ingredient that does not interfere with the texture.

Most dressings are fine without xanthan gum. It’s mainly vinaigrette dressings that need something to hold them together. One thing you need to know is that after the salad dressing has been in the refrigerator overnight, it will form a type of gel and will pour out in what can be described as blobs. Don’t let this bother you. It tastes perfectly fine and normal and it all stays well combined.

There is some controversy about xanthan gum, so if you have questions or concerns about it, click here for a thorough article on the subject.

Most commercial salad dressings contain some kind of sugar. If you can avoid putting sugar in your dressings, that is the best case scenario, but if you are trying to feed a picky family who will not otherwise eat salad, you have to weigh your options. If a scant amount of sugar in a bottle of homemade salad dressing helps you or your family to get lots of vegetables, it may be a choice that makes sense.

Using raw honey is better than white sugar and it works well, but should be done using a food processor, mixer or blender rather than by hand, otherwise it is difficult to blend. All of my salad dressings that require a sweetener are made with honey.

Just about any kind of salad dressing can be made at home, including Caesar, which requires anchovy paste. This is not a problem, as anchovy paste is available in the canned fish section of the grocery store. It comes in a tube and works great for making Caesar salad dressing.

salad dressing on washclothHomemade salad dressings tend to have more flavor and a nice consistency.

If your family is skeptical tell them it is gourmet, because it is. Making your own salad dressing is an easy way to have delicious GMO free and soy free dressing. Most commercially produced salad dressings contain oils that should be avoided, even the organic varieties can contain various types of oils that are not really good. Making your own dressing gives you control over what you put in it, including the oils. You can try olive oil, flax seed oil, even hemp seed oil in your dressings for good flavor and healthful properties.

Give our recipes a try. They have all been taste tested by a group of picky eaters and passed the test before being published here.

Here a recipe for Easy Garlic Balsamic Dressing and a recipe for Family Favorite Blue Cheese Dressing to get you started on healthy salad dressings.

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