If you’re going to eat a salad, chances are you’re going to eat it with a salad dressing. Salad dressings can help to add flavor to greens and possibly cover up any unpleasant taste that some of the more bitter greens carry. A lot of people will refer to things as simple as thinned out hummus as salad dressing, but is that really the case?
In order for a mixture to be considered a salad dressing, it must contain a mixture of oils, herbs, vinegar, and other seasonings. It must be mixed together and then it is poured over a salad.
Even with this fairly strict definition of a salad dressing, there are still lots of variations. All of these variations help to make salad dressings interesting and ensure that you’ll never eat a boring salad or one that tastes the same.
Types of Salad Dressing
There are two main types of salad dressings that you can find in grocery stores, spoonable salad dressings, and liquid salad dressings. Some examples of spoonable salad dressings include ranch and blue cheese dressings. One common example of a liquid salad dressing is a classic vinaigrette dressing.
Spoonable Salad Dressing
A spoonable salad dressing is usually one that is made mostly from mayonnaise. This means that it has an extremely high fat content and can be difficult to pour, you may find yourself having to spoon it out onto your salad. You’re unlikely to see any separation with this type of salad dressing.
Common examples of this type of salad dressing include both ranch, thousand island dressing, and blue cheese dressing. All of these types have a base of mayonnaise which results in a thick and creamy salad dressing.
Liquid Salad Dressing
The next type of salad dressing that you’ll usually see in stores is the liquid salad dressing. This type of dressing usually consists of a base of oil, like olive oil, and a bunch of spices. It also usually contains vinegar to help cut back on the sheer quantity of oil. This type of dressing is very runny and can easily be poured out of a bottle and mixed into your salad.
This is the type of salad dressing where you’ll usually see quite a bit of separation between the oil and the other ingredients. Before using your dressing you will want to give it a good shake to mix the ingredients and make sure they’re evenly distributed.
Salad Dressing Production
Now it’s time to learn about how salad dressings are produced. No matter which type of salad dressing you purchase, they are likely produced in close to the same way using a similar process.
The first step to making salad dressing is sourcing all of the raw materials. These will usually consist of oil, some type of vinegar, spices, as well as eggs, and maybe some sugar.
At this stage, all of the ingredients will be incorporated together. This is often done at a high temperature to ensure that all of the ingredients meld together well. However, this will depend on the type of salad dressing.
The entire time that the ingredients are being mixed together, a process known as emulsification will be taking place. This is the process of mixing everything together so that the fat is broken down into smaller particles.
This allows the fat in the dressing, usually oil, to mix better with the other ingredients. This also helps to reduce separation.
After everything has been fully emulsified, it is time for the dressing to be bottled. It will be bottled and then sealed so it stays fresh at room temperature until it is opened. One of the reasons that it can stay fresh at room temperature until it is opened is because it has a low PH.
The Most-Used Salad Dressing
The most used type of salad dressing in the United States is most definitely ranch dressing. This is because, at least in America, ranch isn’t used for just salad. Ranch is also frequently used for pizza, Hooters wings, and even as a sauce on sandwiches. Most people don’t discriminate when it comes to their ranch usage.
In other parts of the world, the most used type of dressing is typically a simple vinaigrette. These dressings are light and easy to make on your own with some simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
The next time you make yourself a salad, think about whether or not your dressing actually qualifies as a salad dressing. Who knows, maybe the hummus based dressing you’ve been using this whole time wouldn’t actually qualify.
Of course, you should keep enjoying your salad dressings however you like them. If you enjoy using just a base of olive oil and garlic, keep using it, and don’t worry about the fact that it isn’t “technically” a salad dressing.