Make It Yourself...Salad Dressing Ingredients

Many of the ingredients that I use in homemade salad dressings I already had on hand for other types of cooking.  Here are some of the most common after oils, which we covered HERE.
Vinegars
I have gradually acquired a variety of vinegars, and I use them all.  Here are some common choices for salad dressings.
Wine Vinegars: White wine and red wine vinegars are extremely versatile, as is Sherry vinegar, which has a great flavor.  Of the white wine vinegars, champagne vinegar tends to be the mildest, and it really perks up a simple dressing.
Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar is popular due to its sweet flavor. The inexpensive supermarket versions are perfectly fine for salad dressings.
White balsamic vinegar is either white wine vinegar blended with grape must or regular balsamic vinegar stripped of its color. But many consumers appreciate that it doesn't produce a dark brown dressing, so it's popular for salads.
Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar, sometimes labeled "rice wine vinegar," is milder than most wine vinegars, and ranges from 4 to 5 percent acidity. Japanese or Japanese-style rice vinegars are the most readily available, and their color can vary from very pale yellow to a deeper yellow. Seasoned rice vinegar—sugar and salt have been added—is what's sprinkled over cooked rice for sushi, but it also makes a balanced mild vinegar for salads. It needs very little oil; in fact, those on low-fat diets often use it straight, without any oil. If you prefer your rice vinegar unsweetened, choose the plain (unseasoned) variety.
Cider and White Vinegar:  I especially like cider vinegar in sweetened dressings, and white vinegar is used too, although it is more tart.  Both are cheaper and more available than other vinegars.
Lemon Juice: Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice—don't be tempted by the plastic lemon-shaped squirt bottles in the supermarket. And if using both lemon zest and juice in a dressing, zest the lemon whole before halving it to squeeze the juice.
Emulsifiers and other additions:
Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is the classic base for many well-known dressings, such as Russian, Thousand Island, and blue cheese. It can be made by hand or purchase your favorite brand to avoid the risk of salmonella infection.
Mustard: When adding mustard to a vinaigrette, stick with smooth-style mustards, which emulsify dressing far better than whole-grain varieties. But don't feel bound by Dijon. Spicy brown mustard or yellow ballpark mustard work, too.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk, along with mayonnaise, forms the base of the ever popular ranch-style dressing. It's also handy as a low-fat alternative to sour cream or to thin mayonnaise in other dressings. 
Sour Cream: Sour cream is pasteurized light cream soured with lactic acid bacteria. It has less fat than heavy cream, but more than yogurt.  Flavored sour cream dips that complement the other ingredients in your dressing can also be used, and may be cheaper on sale.
Yogurt:  For salad dressings, be sure to buy plain yogurt, whether regular or Greek.
Blue Cheese: Blue cheese dressing is typically made with a firm cheese that crumbles easily. French Roquefort, American Maytag Blue from Iowa, and Danish Blue are all good choices. 

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