We might not think about them that often, but condiments are the unsung heroes of our kitchens — and our meals. Highly versatile, with a wide range of consistencies and uses, the category of "condiment" includes a long list of some our favorite flavors: just check the Wikipedia page.
As for their origins? They’re as varied as the condiments themselves. From ketchup, which first appeared in 17th century China, when it was still called “kê-chiap,” to ranch dressing, first created by a couple who operated a ranch near Santa Barbara, condiments come from all corners of the world.
And when it comes to your meal, a condiment can make or break a meal. A sandwich plain? Bland, dry, and pretty dull. A hot dog without toppings? That’s just outlandish. And everyone with a set of taste buds and a beating heart knows that a vegetable tray is nothing without a wide selection of condiments to dip them into, right?At Bustle, we know the importance of a good condiment — we also know how much fun it can be to try new and exciting flavors. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Hidden Valley®, the original makers of your favorite Ranch dressing. Together, we’ve put together a list of tricks and tips to creating your own condiment bar – because no condiment should stand alone. Ready? So are we.
Invite Your Friends
Sure, if you wanted to, you could totally set up an entire condiment bar for a solo night while watching your favorite dating reality show. But frankly, dips are better when shared with friends. So make some calls or send out that group text and ask your favorite people to come over for a tasting party they'll love.
Set the Stage
Presentation is important, after all. Make sure your condiments are looking smart by investing in some trays and cute little containers — or as people in the condiments biz call them, "vessels" — to put them in. (We love these). Sure, they're a small investment, but we promise they'll quickly become some of the most-used items in your kitchen.
Choose Your Condiments Wisely
Choosing your favorite condiments is kind of like choosing your favorite movie, song, or best friend — nearly impossible. But even the largest condiment bar has its limits. By picking a variety of your favorite flavors, you can make sure there's plenty for everyone's tastes, but not an overwhelming number of options. Our advice? Focus on what you love. If you love ranch dressing — and who doesn’t — branch out a bit and try different twists on Ranch on different foods, like Buttermilk Ranch® on a bacon and cheddar burger, or Cilantro Lime Ranch® on fish tacos.
Label, Label, Label
This is an important detail that even the most organized people can forget. By labeling each of your condiments, you can ensure that your guests know exactly what they're getting into, and save yourself from being asked "which one is this again?" a million times. You can either make them yourself (all you need is some paper, toothpicks and a glue stick) or order these cute ones online.
Don't Forget The Garnish
Nothing will make your condiment bar feel more legit than some good garnish. Stop by your local grocery store for some fresh herbs and aromatics (we're thinking parsley, dill, and cilantro) to sprinkle on top of your condiments for an extra Wow factor.
Pick the Right Partners
When it comes to condiments, the pairing options are pretty much limitless. From chopped vegetables (peppers, carrots, celery, anyone?) to sliced baguette, assorted crackers, and pita chips, you really can't go wrong.
The best thing about creating a condiments bar? You can try everything.
This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley®.
Show us how you ranch out your favorite foods with a dip, dunk or drizzle of Hidden Valley® Ranch. Snap a picture of your Ranched Out dish, and then visit RanchOutSweeps.com to enter. You can also enter by sharing it on Instagram or Twitter with #RanchOutSweepstakes.