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Condiment-aholics, listen up! The Condiment Police are here to help....

The thread about fridge organization contains many comments by condiment-aholics, their storage problems & addiction. So: Condiment Police, do tell which condiments are a) necessary... b) desirable... c) you kidding me?

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  1. Here's my list of necessaties; mayo, mustard, ketchup, various hot sauces, sweet pickle relish and jalepeno (?) peppers.

    1. Muffuletta
      Hot chopped cherry peppers
      Pub style horseradish sauce
      Tarragon mustard

      All vital for sandwiches!

      1. Necessary - mayo, mustard, ketchup, horseradish, soy or teriyaki sauce, honey, salt & pepper.

        1. Necessary - I use these often:

          Anchovy Paste
          Dijon mustard
          Whole grain mustard
          Soy Sauce
          Worcestercire Sauce
          Chili and Garlic Sauce
          Thai Red Curry Paste
          Thai Green Curry Paste
          Thai Yellow Curry Paste
          Marischino Cherries (for Manhattans - a must)

          Black Bean Sauce
          Plum Sauce
          Oyster Sauce (Although I have a HUGE bottle someone gave me and I keep looking at it, thinking "Dear God, will it EVER go AWAY!!??)
          Real Mayonnaise
          Roasted Red Peppers
          Kalamata Olives
          Fish Sauce (that stuff smells so bad, but it's useful)
          Hoisin Sauce
          Raspberry jam
          Apricot preserves

          and in the WHY DO I HAVE THIS category
          Honey Mustard Dip ? (gift from someone)
          Some kind of ancient preserves
          Hot chinese mustard
          Something crusty that the label has fallen off of.

          Someone please make me throw these things in the trash. Just because it comes in a glass jar does not mean I have to keep it until the End of Time...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Andiereid

            great list
            throw out the crappy gift condiments! I did a couple of months ago, and it felt great...

            1. re: Andiereid

              You should use the Oyster Sauce if you haven't opened it. It will go bad, I found out too late and ruined a meal. Believe me you'll know. But it makes great oyster beef or brocolli beef but my favorite is to stir fry cauliflower with green onion oyster sauce and garlic. Yum.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                You know what? That stuff is so old, I bet I can just throw it out. Yay! More space in the fridge!

                1. re: chef chicklet

                  Oyster sauce- secret ingredient for kick ass fried rice.

              2. A lot of you chowhounds are including condiments which must be refrigerated after opening with those that do not require refrigeration, such as ketchup and mustard. The original question involves refrigerator door space, which is much more limited compared to kitchen shelf space in general.

                So, my list is only going to include those items which must be kept in the fridge.
                That fridge space is precious, and my condiments that make the cut include: honey, maple syrup. Bon Maman: strawberry, raspberry, marmalade, apricot. Green curry paste, fish sauce, capers, mayo., tahini, pepperoncini, sweet pickle relish (so hard to find without dye), kalamata olives, home-made Pace Picante style salsa, tomatillo salsa verde from TJ's, home-made beet horseradish, Better than Bullion: chicken and veg., pickled jalapenos, marzipan, sliced pickled ginger, plum sauce, Annie's Goddess dressing, TJ's BBQ sauce, Soy Vay Island Teriyaki sauce, Newman's Own Honey Mustard dressing, vanilla extract, kim chee (difficult to find sans sodium benzoate), Costco basil pesto, TJ's Cuban mojito sauce, Skippy super chunk PB, pickled beets, anchovies, hoisin sauce, black bean sauce, oyster sauce, pickled tomatoes, half sour pickles (also hard to find minus benzoate), AND...miso paste.

                Whew! That was fun.

                22 Replies
                1. re: niki rothman

                  You refrigerate your peanut butter? How come? I never have done. It lives in the pantry.

                  1. re: Andiereid

                    You may find a few other items, such as preserves, honey, and maple syrup which I choose to refrigerate - only because I have found mold at one time or another.

                    1. re: niki rothman

                      I have only had maple syrup go moldy. That gets refrigerated.

                    2. re: Andiereid

                      My uncle got food poisoning from eating unrefrigerated peanut butter in a jar that had been opened for a while. His doctor told him to always refrigerate the peanut butter within a week or so of opening the jar, otherwise bacteria accumulates.. I would assume this goes double for the natural peanut butter.

                      1. re: Andiereid

                        Peanut butter that doesn't have any preservatives must be refrigerated. I buy Laura Scudder, no Jiffy for me, no matter how much my son whined for it. I'm gonna try Adams next, it's supposed to be very good (good enough for Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, I know for a fact).

                        1. re: Andiereid

                          If you haven't tried natural peanut butter, you really should, any brand, so wonderful. Stir the oil on top into it with one beater of your electric egg beater stuck right into the jar, very easy, refrigerate and it does not separate again. Yum.

                        2. re: niki rothman

                          I have never kept honey, fish sauce, tahini, vanilla extract, or peanut butter in the fridge. They do fine in a cabinet.

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            I keep my PB in the fridge because I like the kind that separates if it is kept at room temperature and I hate stirring it up.

                            1. re: mizinformation

                              I store natural peanut butter upside down and occasionallly flip the jat rightside up to keep the oil even in the jar. If there is a lot of oil floating on top when I buy it then it goes onteh shelf upside down vice versa

                          2. re: niki rothman

                            Thank god, I don't feel alone anymore - take so much flack from friends and spouse re multiple flavors of the same thing - don't they understand the need for subtle variation?? I have to admit also that my condimentia has extended to the freezer, where I keep dates and figs which need to be wrapped in bacon, baked crisp and dipped in a kaluha cream with spiced with Thai Chili.

                            1. re: cambriahound

                              On the flip side, I find that I have to keep multiple kinds of things because I like chunky peanut butter, my husband only likes smooth. He was raised on Miracle Whip so I have to keep that on hand even though I only use Hellman's. We like different catsups, mustards, salad dressings, kinds of olives, cheese spreads and so on. Wasteful, but cheaper than divorce!

                              1. re: sheiladeedee

                                A Miracle Whip/Hellman's compromise generally works, but there is actual legal precedent for discord leading to divorce:

                                1. re: sheiladeedee

                                  LOL - feel like you've looked in my fridge. Have to buy the small bottle of Miracle Whip though because he doesn't use as much and I pick the peanut chunks out of his PB if I run out of smooth.

                              2. re: niki rothman

                                How's TJs tomatillo salsa?? I guess it must be good if it's on your list...

                                1. re: prunefeet

                                  Yes, TJ's tomatillo salsa verde in the jar is really good. As is TJ's general rule it has no additives. I'm pretty sure it's just tomatillos with little charry bits (nice touch), finely minced onions, vinegar, maybe garlic - I'm out of it right now otherwise I'd check (er...out of it in both senses - not quite awake yet - 7 a.m. & no salsa verde in the fridge at this moment). It goes great with just about anything Mex. Also fine on an omelet, on chicken or meats you want to serve with tortillas, salad, beans & rice type of meal. It's not hot, just a nice hearty taste. It's the only salsa I buy. The Pace Picante cooked red type and the pico de gallo/salsa crudo raw salsa with cilantro are so very easy to make in the Cuisinart there's no reason to buy them. And when you make them fresh they taste so much better than what sits on the shelf at the store - and of course no chemicals. But that TJ's tomatillo salsa verde keeps a very long time in the fridge (couple of months - I'm embarrassed to admit)) without losing quality - probably because of the vinegar.

                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                    Thanks, I'll be picking this up next time. This thread has given me too many ideas for even more condiments I MUST have.

                                2. re: niki rothman

                                  Funny you should mention what you keep in the fridge and what you don't (ketchup & mustard). I've always kept those 2 in the fridge, but have always kept honey on the shelf. Maple syrup if it's the mass produced kind with 2% maple syrup goes on the shelf, if it's real 100% maple syrup, it goes in the fridge.

                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                    It's actually not a good idea to refrigerate honey, there are living cultures in honey that make it especially healthful and refrigeration will kill them. Honey is a natural antibiotic. Sorry to get all crunchy/new wave/hippie on you all.

                                    1. re: ballulah

                                      Oh, I am with you 100 percent. The honey was firmly un-refrigerated until that day I noticed the mold.

                                      1. re: niki rothman

                                        Need to eat that honey faster! Haha. Or maybe you just had an unlucky jar.

                                      2. re: ballulah

                                        And then there is the natural botulism in honey too, but I would never refrigerate honey and I don't eat a lot of it so it can sit on my shelf a couple of years.

                                        1. re: Candy

                                          Anyway, it usually crystalizes a bit when refridgerated.

                                    2. Some of the condiments listed above seem to me more like ingredients. I can't imagine using curry paste on its own as a condiment. What differentiates a condiment from an ingredient? What inventive ways have you used curry pastes, black bean sauce, et cetera, that seem outside the realm of what they were meant for?

                                      by the way, my must have condiments:

                                      Heinz ketchup
                                      Hellman's mayo (besut foods on west coast)
                                      Crystal brand Louisiana hot sauce
                                      Tapatio hot sauce (red)
                                      Sriracha sauce
                                      Soy sauce
                                      HP Sauce

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: MaspethMaven

                                        I'm very much of a dab o' this, touch o' that, cook. Interesting you should single out curry paste. I can just see myself making something like a mixed veg. concoction and thinking, "Hmm...I bet just the thing that this mess needs is a touch of that green curry paste and er...maybe some sour cream."

                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                          only singled out curry because some earlier response listed it as a condiment.
                                          And you know, when your coconut milk just isn't creamy enough, a dollop of daisy (or breakstones, or friendship) might do the trick!

                                          At the risk of sounding like (yuk-o) Rachael Ray, maybe it'll give it that "hmm-what is that?"

                                          1. re: MaspethMaven

                                            My grinch's Christmas (or in my case, Chanukah)present this year is to just have pretty much figured out i am lactose intolerant. So, I'm going to make that curry paste with that IMO imitation sour cream crap I've seen forever in the supermarket but turned up my nose at. I have been using Coffeemate diluted to cream concentration for cream soups whenever I need a creamy soup or gravy - but now it's going to have to get serious. Interestingly, there have been newspaper articles lately showing how human development of the ability to digest dairy at all only happened as the result of some very new area of human eveolution. They are beginning to see human biological developments like that as the result of human civilization - i.e.: domestication of cattle 9,000 years ago - as being evidence of the ongoing process of evolution on the human species. Isn't that fascinating. Before 9,000 years ago nobody could digest dairy after they grew beyond childhood because milk was only a mommy/baby thing. THEN 9,000 years ago we started to domesticate cattle and those people who COULD digest the newly available dairy as adults got better nutrition and lived longer - AND passed along those dairy accepting genes. Isn't evolution fascinating!

                                            1. re: niki rothman

                                              Have you tried the lactase pills and Lactaid milk? You must take the pill with the first bite of dairy containing food, not in the middle or later- doesn't work as I've discovered. The pills has helped me enjoy lasgna again.

                                              Personally, I kind of like the Lactaid milk, a little bit sweeter because the lactose has been broken down for you. Just terribly expensive.

                                              1. re: vsoy

                                                To be honest, I'm scared. My GI upsets are so violent that so far the desire for dairy has been vastly outweighed by the fear of consequences. I'm kind of curious about people saying that most cheeses actually do not contain lactose - but I don't even really believe this enough yet to risk an "attack" I need more information - that's for sure.

                                      2. All 4 different jars of my mustard say refrigerate after opening as does my catsup and my Tamari and soy sauce. I have various ingredients for Asian cooking that also say to refrigerate and the 3 salad dressings I buy, Marie's Bleu Cheese, the imported tomato and fig derssings from France, then there is stuff like tomato paste and anchovy paste, various BBQ sauces, mayo, anchovies, marischino cherries (hint pour off half of the juice in the bottle when you get it and replace it with bourbon for Manhattans), pickled onions, creme fraiche, sour cream, varioius hot sauces and basics like Worcestershire , ginger juice, chili sauce, horseradish, olives, pickles of various sorts, 2 bottles of Minus-8 Vinegar (that stuff is precious) 1 bottle of Saba, also precious and hard to come by,etc. It is packed.

                                        What i do not refrigerate is peanut butter, jams or jellies, baking supplies like various extracts.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Candy

                                          "marischino cherries (hint pour off half of the juice in the bottle when you get it and replace it with bourbon for Manhattans"

                                          OOO! Thank you!

                                          1. re: Andiereid

                                            I recently noticed Trader Joe's sells maraschino cherries without the bright red dye. They are not the intense neon red of course, but they look acceptable and taste perfect.

                                            1. re: Andiereid

                                              If you have access to fresh sour cherrie pit them saving a few pits, add good brandy, and sugar. You are blessed with the most wonderful cherries for manhattans and delicous cherry-flavored brandy.

                                          2. FWIW- my mother used to keep opened Helman's mayo in the pantry- how I survived my childhood I dont know.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: tbear

                                              Goes to show you how many delicious chemicals are in there with the eggs and oil.

                                              1. re: missclaudy

                                                I don't think Hellman's is dangerous at room temp, you buy it that way in the first place so it's not as delicate as one might think. Delis usually put out a tub of mayo at 5 in the morning and use it until after dinner when they close; I understand that mayo actually prevents food poisoning rather than promotes it (sorry don't remember the scientific facts). PS I keep mine in the fridge after opening, especially as husband must have it cold on a sandwich, yes he would notice otherwise!)

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  BUT...and here's the danger. Double dipping into whatever you are making with the mayo. Like you take a spoon and scoop out some mayo, put it in the bowl with the tuna or chopped eggs for salad, or whatever, and tiny particles of tuna or fish oil you may not notice touch the spoon and get carried back into the jar when you go to dip into it for your next spoonful of mayo. THIS is what starts the mold growing and the bacteria multiplying & spreading into the jar as the jar sits at room temp. And if you have kids, or a sloppy husband (err...I guess that means all husbands) cannot be trusted to keep fingers or worse out of jars of mayo, PB & J, etc. Better to play it safe and keep ALL that stuff in the fridge where the bacteria and mold spores that are inevitably going to get into the jar can't grow and potential make somebody sick.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    It is heat sealed like all canned foods when you buy them.

                                              2. Just looked in the fridge and observed the following:

                                                Dijon Mustard
                                                Thai Green Curry Paste
                                                Wocestershire Sauce
                                                Tamarind Paste
                                                Date & Chilli Sauce
                                                Kalamata Olives
                                                Dry-Cured Black Olives
                                                Marinated Green Olives
                                                Dill Pickles (spears and slices)
                                                Roasted Red Peppers
                                                Sundried Tomato Paste
                                                Apricot Jam
                                                French Raspberry Jam
                                                French cream cheese
                                                Greek Yogurt
                                                Aubergine Pesto
                                                Tahini Paste

                                                Oh, and Hot Chinese mustard is great for clearing the sinuses when you have a cold. In a pinch, a trip to Pei Wei will do.


                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: TexasToast

                                                  If you have Coleman's Dry Mustard on hand you can make up hot sinus clearing mustard in small fresh batches, even just a couple of Tbs. at a time. Just mix Colemans 1 to 1 with water, wine, or beer. Let it sit about a half hour and then clear the sinuses. Use with caution. I find the prepared Chinese like grated horseradish goes flat and heatless in a short amount of time.

                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                    I forgot to add:

                                                    Salted Capers
                                                    Maple Syrup
                                                    Pickled Jalepenos
                                                    Chocolate Sauce

                                                    I think that about covers it.


                                                2. Some thoughts on condimentia (sort of like dementia - only tastier)- some stuff just stays fresher in the fridge - no question about vanilla extract, nuts I even freeze, curry paste, tahini, saffron, truffle oil. Things I don't use often that are expensive or subtle flavors. Some things I would assume would stay fresh in the cabinet have shocked me into being extra careful to read labels always now - for the "refrigerate after opening" warning (threat?). For example, one day I was all set to sit down to some hot crispy waffles with butter and pure maple syrup, when I took a close look at the maple syrup bottle that had been UN-refrigerated...HMMM....FURRY MOLD! And nothing else to put on those waffles that day either. TRAGEDY! Same thing has happened with jams - so now they and their buddy PB go on the fridge door.

                                                  Last thought on condiments put their spiritual importance in its true perspective for me. It was an art piece which was displayed on the wall of Just Desserts, a bakery here in SF. It was those large double tablets (probably 4 x 6 ft. or so), usually used to display that tired old cliche' "The 10 Commandments" (just kidding Godsters)only this one was labeled in classic Gothic script: "The Ten Condiments" in place of the boring old "don't covet", "don't lie" dictums - whatever...were the much more interesting and tasty: Heinz Ketchup bottle, Morton's salt, Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce bottle, Kraft BBQ sauce, Hellman's mustard jar, jar of Heinz pickle relish, bottle of Kikkomman soy sauce, and a jar of Heinz vinegar. Is that ten yet? Well, use your imagination.

                                                  I don't know about you, but personally, I mean in my own pretty blameless boring existence, those Ten Condiments have been so much more useful, I mean...realistically speaking, than the ones about not killing and all that. I hardly ever get the urge to kill, but I DO so often find myself desperate for some Heinz ketchup.

                                                  But, I'm still very grateful - to WHOEVER is responsible for that sort of thing on the cosmic level, when I've got some hot, crispy waffles all ready to go, and there is NO mold on the maple syrup. Is there a moral here? Maybe if there was it would be: trust, but verify.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                                    LOL I love it, the Ten Condiments. Tho of course ten is nowhere near enough...

                                                    1. re: niki rothman

                                                      Pretty funny that a place called Just Desserts would have a Ten Condiments poster.

                                                      My Refrigerated Ten Condiments:

                                                      1. Miracle Whip. There shall be no condiments before this (backup Best food mayo)
                                                      2. You shall take the name Heinz organic catsup seriously
                                                      3. Remember to keep the jam refrigerated
                                                      4. Refrigerate your olive oil and peanut butter
                                                      5. You shall keep mustard, preferably plain yellow
                                                      6. You shall not buy adulterated condiments (with hfcs, preservatives, etc)
                                                      7. You shall keep sriracha
                                                      8. You shall not bear false-tasting horseradish
                                                      9. You shall not covet your neighbor's condiments
                                                      10. You shall not covet fancy condiments or they will be condemned to damnation that is the limbo at the back of the fridge ... unloved and molding in agony while taking up valuable fridge real estate until I move to a new home and throw them away and they go to landfill hell.

                                                      Other than those ... well, actually eight ... that’s all I keep. I just get too crazy watching something age in the fridge, like those three bottles of piri-piri sauce that have been in there about two years now. There are visiting condiments like the TJ pumpkin butter that I found I didn’t like ... or occasionally pickles or olives.

                                                      I wasn’t kidding about the Miracle Whip just to be cute. I confess have a trashy side to me and really love this stuff.

                                                      Moses & The Ten Condiments

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        Dang it! rw - WHY, OH WHY didn't I use the brains I was given and take a photograph of that sculpture? It was monumental - a 3D construction and made with the actual items - bottles of Heinz ketchup, etc. I searched Google and found nothing remotely related to the original 10 Condiments sculpture of the Biblical Tablets and holy condiments at the JD on Church. Next time I'm up to it I think I'll canvas the local merchants and see if anybody knows what I'm talking about or has any clues to locating the artist. Like David at Aaardvark books will no doubt have some ideas. At the very least I want to track down the artist and get a photo. Best case scenario: I buy the thing and hang it in my kitchen. Any ideas would be welcome. There is actually an artists' association in the Upper Market (Safeway Gulch) area that holds a yearly open studio event, they would be good to contact and ask questions, as well as the owners of JD, and maybe the woman who did that great mural on the side of the Arab deli at 15 & Church. I'm motivated.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          Miracle Whip shall never enter my home
                                                          Brooks Catsup is the only catsup worth eating
                                                          Never refrigerate olive oil or peanut butter
                                                          Never refrigerate jams ot jellies
                                                          Mustards, Plochman's, Grey Poupon both smoth and coarse, Edmund Fallot poupon style with green peppercorns are always to be on hand

                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                            I always love it when somebody here has really extreme views, so don't take this as a criticism: Trader Joe's Dijon mustard is better than Grey Poupon - I swear. Check it out. You'll thank me.
                                                            Man, you've got me wanting to taste that Brooks ketchup. Never seen it. What part of the world contains it? Not SF. No strong feelings about Miracle Whip and it makes me wonder why some folks seem to hate it so. Maybe it's a geographic/class distinction thing. The South East? I don't think the Miracle Whip vs: Mayo turf war has hit big on the West Coast yet. You state unequivocally that "...Miracle Whip shall never enter my home." Sounds like a challenge. If Miracle Whip does make some attempt to get into my apartment, I'm just going to stand back and watch it try.

                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                              Candy, it seems we attend different condiment churches with differing beliefs :-)

                                                              Niki, if you ever see Narsai David's Dijon mustard, snap it up despite its outrageous price. I'm not a Dijon fan, but I could just eat Narsai's mustard direct from the jar with a spoon. In our area, sometimes Andronico's sells it.

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                Yeah, rw, I was kind of surprised when you admitted you loved the yellow ballpark style. Yet I was someplace recently and it was all they had and I thought it was really delicious on the cold cut sandwich to which I applied it. So, I'm going to get some. Best brand? And thanx for the tip on the Narsai David mustard. I will get some. I do eat a lot of mustard and it is an important holy condiment to me. Mmmm...corned beef....Mmmm....Niman Ranch beef hot dogs....AND NR no nitrates ham....Mmmm...nice fresh seedy rye bread....Mmmm....nutmeggy white wursts and sauerkraut and MUSTARD!

                                                          1. Refrigerator door is packed with multi ingredients as well as condiments; everybody laughs, husband grimaces

                                                            must-have condiments
                                                            Pulaski mustard (the best)
                                                            dijon (ingredient only - I dont like very much)
                                                            olive paste
                                                            chili garlic sauce (lee kum kee)
                                                            sambal oelek
                                                            aleppo pepper for sprinkling, ingredient
                                                            some sripraphai nam prik pao
                                                            pickled jalapenos (from Bayless recipe)
                                                            japanese wasabi mayo,
                                                            various indian pickles(about to clear these out - they dont get eaten)
                                                            oyster sauce (for vegetables)
                                                            date tamarind chutney for indian snack foods

                                                            various chinese chile and bean pastes
                                                            hungarian paprika
                                                            hoisin sauce
                                                            indian grean chile paste
                                                            indian ginger garlic paste
                                                            chinese shrimp sauce
                                                            pickle relish, hellmans mayo and ketchup
                                                            salad olives, preserved lemons,kalamata olives

                                                            possible refrig candidates kept outside the frig
                                                            sesame oil (ised fast enuf to keep this way)
                                                            jams, honey, pbj
                                                            fish sauce

                                                            15 Replies
                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                              There is a little issue about refrigerating oils about water condensing on the sides of the bottle and then bacteria growing in the water. Check it out - you can see the little water particles. So I don't refrigerate oils. For my own garlic oil mix I make up for using on a million things - even garlic bread, and almost every day.
                                                              I just make it in very small batches so it never sits more than a week.

                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                jen kalb, your Must Have list is like looking in a mirror, down to the mustard
                                                                I don't have and never heard of aleppo pepper
                                                                thanks for making your list!

                                                                fish sauce and honey are def fine outside the fridge

                                                                I wonder with peanut butter if there's a diff between salted and unsalted, raw and roasted, in terms of longevity. must be, right?

                                                                1. re: pitu

                                                                  Just cause it happened to me - honey. They say it has anti-microbial properties and all. But, I looked at a jar in my cabinet recently and there was mold in it. So now it's in the fridge.

                                                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                                                    honey. hmmm.
                                                                    and I *so* love all those stories about
                                                                    2000-year-old honey in tombs that is still good!

                                                                    You probably know the difference, but for those that don't know . . .
                                                                    honey *does* crystalize, and the raw stuff I get has bit of pollen and waxiness. None of it spoilage or mold, but all of it funny looking if you're new to the product.

                                                                    1. re: pitu

                                                                      I hear you. It's a lovely romantic thing. All those foods that go back to our earliest anscestors. I read recently that in Israel a date palm and a fig tree were cultivated from 4,000 year old seeds that could have been planted by my great great great times 3o or so great grandparents. The seeds were still alive. Apparently, the article said, figs and dates are some of the very first cultivated by man fruits going back tens of thousands of years. Why them? Because they are so easy to grow - all you have to do is stick a shoot or twig in the wet ground and the plant takes it from there. That was the very first agriculture. That Fertile Crescent that WAS a Garden of Eden in terms of climate way back ten thousand years or so ago when my own anscestors arrived there from the less fertile Africa, driven out by climate change. And they were just beginning to make the observations - like language and controlling herdable animals and noticing that some plants that bore good things to eat could be made to cooperate if people settled down into one place and tended to them - in the very earliest cities, like Baghdad in fact, where they could grow their own foods and not just follow the herds from place to place with the yearly climate changes. Honey, dates, figs, being able to have easy access to them and producing them and distributing them in a stable community - well, it all led to civilization.

                                                                      1. re: niki rothman

                                                                        Have you read Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel. He talks about all of this, it is a beautiful, fascinating book.

                                                                      2. re: pitu

                                                                        I'm inviting you two over to see MY 2000 year old condiments.It just wouldn't be the same around here if I threw them away. They will probably all be buried with me.

                                                                        1. re: missclaudy

                                                                          Yeah, I definitely want to be buried with some snacks too.

                                                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                                                    Why do you refrigerate Aleppo pepper. I see that you also put your paprika in the fridge, do ground up peppers go off or loose flavor ?

                                                                    1. re: missclaudy

                                                                      chiles tend to lose flavor and color - also, bugs get in them at room temp. Anyway, they seem to keep better this way. I just read something (an indian source maybe?) advising that all red spices be kept under refrig./freezing. Anyway, my new batch of sumac just went into the freezer. To pitu above, the aleppo pepper (what Kalustyan calls it) is also called near east pepper someplaces - I think that the stuff Sahadi is now selling as "halaby pepper" is the same. Heres a pic

                                                                      Its a somewhat fermented and oily flaky or coarsely ground pepper from syria which is very flavorful and not extremely hot so it works really well in salads and as condiment. Its similar to some of the Turkish peppers (maras?). I use it as my main chile for mideastern style dishes, for example hummus. Paula Wolfert and some of the other authors call for it a lot. great stuff.

                                                                      Just realized srihacha is in there too, behind the milk.

                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                        Sriracha seems to be universally loved by chowhounds - could it be the strange attraction of being both slightly sweet and a little garlicky?

                                                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                                                          I don't love sriracha, but for a funky-tasting can of sardines, it makes them edible. I think it has to be something you grew up with to love. I only tried it recently because everyone on the board was so crazy about it. It wasn't love at first bite. It also has some preservatives in it which moves it down a notch in my opinion ... but it is good for covering up a less than tasty dish.

                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                            Oh, I definitely like sriracha as an all-purpose hot sauce, and i think that preservative is one of the more benign (excuse the expression) ones, unlike, say benzoate and some coal-tar dyes. But, I love sriracha squirted into some rice stick noodle, meat, veg stir fry, or on top of a tostada, or on some Russian vareniki with sour cream. So, I've got sriracha going International.

                                                                            Now, rw dear, please allow me a tangent. When you say something, like sriracha - just for example, is useful to cover up the taste of something dubious to make it palatable - it really amazes me. Not being judgemental, but just kind of keeping the eye on the prize. If it has to be camouflaged just to make it edible, please! Get it the hell away from me!

                                                                            Since having all my GI problems (don't get me started) eating is even MORE important to me than ever, so I truly treasure everything I actually eat. It has GOT to be absolutely delicious or I refuse to take the risk of, say, maybe winding up in a lot of pain. But, it occurs to me that we are so blessed and priveleged in our chowhound understanding of how important delicious food truly is that we should insist that everything we eat be delicious. That IS my new policy. And it's really great. I only eat truly delicious food - I LOVE IT! That IS what being a chowhound actually means to me. Now, let's all go to the window, open it and shout, "I'm fed up with boring food and I'm not going to eat it any more!"

                                                                          2. re: niki rothman

                                                                            I need it with some viet stuff but dont love it totally. I much prefer the chinese chili garlic sauce (with a bit of sesame oil and good soy) for my standard cold beancurd meal for example.

                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                              What is the brand of Chinese chili garlic sauce you like the best?

                                                                    2. Let me see how many I remember:
                                                                      Hot sauces (Sriracha, yucatan sunshine, cholula, something delicious and carribean, Marie Sharp's)
                                                                      Country dijon
                                                                      A-1 for husb
                                                                      Mayo (lite)
                                                                      oyster sauce
                                                                      usually fish sauce, but I'm out
                                                                      sambal oelek
                                                                      soy sauce (light and reg and tamari right now)
                                                                      chili oil
                                                                      sesame oil
                                                                      better than bouillon
                                                                      apple butter (not usually, but I have some now)
                                                                      maple syrup
                                                                      sour cream
                                                                      some kind of annie's salad dressing
                                                                      miso paste...
                                                                      I know there is more, but I can't come up with it.

                                                                      1. Too many to count, especially after going on various asian cooking adventures...

                                                                        However...we don't stock ketchup anymore and stock Heinz chili sauce instead. A bit of spice plus it is more useful for cooking.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: JudiAU

                                                                          For items that are in pour bottles or squeeze bottles, there's no chance your knife or your finger with contamination will touch the contents as it would in say, a jar of mayo. Anything where it seems safe on its own, yet you could easily cross-contaminate with a spoon or finger - I say, save the chance of problems and just keep refrigerated.

                                                                        2. I am guily as charged having much the same as you all that posted before me, but I must have:

                                                                          mayo-best food
                                                                          kosher dill pickles
                                                                          sweet pickles
                                                                          sweet pickle relish
                                                                          horseradish sauce - both creamy and straight up
                                                                          Lea Perrin
                                                                          A1 Sauce
                                                                          johnny beef boullion - liquid
                                                                          betten than bouillion -concentrated paste
                                                                          oyster sauce
                                                                          soy sauces - all the shades
                                                                          fish - nuc mam
                                                                          chili paste- heavenly chef
                                                                          chili oil
                                                                          sweet chili sauce - mae ploy, for spring rolls
                                                                          sesame seed oil
                                                                          pico pica - HOT sauce
                                                                          Pace Picante
                                                                          Siracha- or however you spell it
                                                                          Red wine vinegar
                                                                          Champagne vinegar
                                                                          raspberry jam
                                                                          orange marmalade

                                                                          I love to try new condiments,and will buy a new one even if I have 10 of the same similar items at home. My argument to my husband is to point at his shelf of "must have" BBQ sauces that he says he can't resist.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                            You bring up an issue that is really important. Trying different brands to eventually get THE BEST of everything you need to buy so that your dishes that you cook with these BEST ingredients, with a little love and vigilence about cooking methods, in turn create something that you really enjoy eating and that your loved ones are putting into their dearly beloved mouths and yelling at you with pure adoration: this is THE BEST (whatever) I have ever eaten!!! Then they present you with the keys to a big new Cadillac car and tickets to Disneyland.
                                                                            At my place that fantasy boils down to my asking husband: "How was it?"
                                                                            His response: perfectly acceptable and often accompanied by a quick "OK" hand jive - "Excellent!" the word is usually badly garbled because his mouth is full of food.
                                                                            But how many things in life are really more important than that?

                                                                          2. necessary:

                                                                            Oyster sauce
                                                                            Tobasco (i feel this is the standard bearer for all hot sauces, so simple, but what more do you need besides salt, peppers, vinegar, and water, no preservatives.)
                                                                            Lea & Perrins Worstershire
                                                                            Soy Sauce( i am really hooked on lite soy sauce now, not for diet reason but foe its taste. )
                                                                            Grey Poupon
                                                                            hot mustard
                                                                            dill pickles
                                                                            pretty much any habanero hot sauce I can find, I like Melindas alot.
                                                                            bbq sauce
                                                                            hellmans mayo

                                                                            I use Siracha on everything from popcorn to almost any meat or fish.

                                                                            Oyster sauce is becoming just as addictive to me,

                                                                            1. 73 posts and not one of you have Maggi seasoning on your condiment list?? This is the one thing would I panic about if I see it getting low (actually I always have an unopened bottle in the pantry at the ready so no panic needed).

                                                                              My favorite use of it is to shake on fried eggs; including puncturing the liquid yolk carefully to drip some Maggi drops into the yolk. But most of the time I shake Maggi into stirfrys, sauces & gravies, soups, stews and most frequently, steak marinades. I've even been known to add it to salad dressing.