Ranch dressing is a type of dressing or dip made out of a blend of herbs and spices in a mayonnaise and buttermilk emulsion, but you knew that already of course. It's great as a salad dressing, or a veggie (or pizza) dip and even as a marinade for meat. That is if it doesn't contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) and disodium phosphate.
History of Ranch Dressing
Over 50 years ago, Steve Henson and his wife made the trek west from Nebraska to California, eventually settling on a sprawling 120-acre farm complete with streams and waterfalls just outside Santa Barbara. It was there that the original Ranch dressing was created and poured into jars for Henson's guests to take home after an evening of dining and partying. Before long, the demand for this ranch dressing was such that the Hensons couldn't keep up with production and hired outside help including using a mail-order approach.
The name of the Henson's dude ranch was none other than Hidden Valley.
We loved Hidden Valley's Ranch dressing and for years that is the only ranch I would buy (shaking my head). But I'm convinced that the formula Henson used in his original ranch is no longer used. I'm certain that the creamy probiotic-rich buttermilk has been haphazardly replaced with the nonfat version from dairy cows fed GMO feed. And the spices used...yeah...they account for only less than 1% per the label. That flavor that is associated with 'ranch' comes from the ingredients you really can't pronounce. Would you like some modified food starch with your salad?
I suppose organic versions are slightly better but you still have to read ingredients. I avoid anything with 'lowfat' or 'nonfat' plastered or made with soybean or canola oil.
Better yet...make your own. With a fraction of the cost, this is the most economical and nutritious way to enjoy your salad or any other food without worrying about funny ingredients. If you are feeling really ambitious, make the ranch dressing with homemade mayonnaise and homemade yogurt.
Ranch using dried herbs
Making ranch using dried herbs is pretty forgiving. I usually just eye-ball everything and no need to measure. You can use either the recipe in this post or the one below calling for chives.
Combine all dried ingredients in a jar. Makes about ½ cup of dried mix. To make ranch dressing: in a small bowl, combine ⅓ cup of each: buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream. Add 2 tablespoons of the dried ranch mix. Stir well. Adjust for salt. If using as a salad dressing, add water a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. It's best to keep ranch as thick as possible if using it as dip.
This mix is great to have always have on hand because it's easy to whip up in 5 minutes. And it's shelf-stable so no need to keep the dried mix refrigerated. When mixed, it's good for up to a week before the buttermilk starts separating.
Ranch using fresh herbs
Using fresh herbs, I've discovered is best as more of a dip rather than a salad dressing. Fresh herbs give substantially more flavor then their dried counterparts so I prefer this method for veggie dips.
Chop fresh dill, fresh parsley, and fresh green onions or chives. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of sour cream, ½ cup of yogurt, and ¼ cup mayonnaise. Add all herbs and 1 fresh minced garlic clove OR 1 ½ teaspoon of dried garlic powder. Again, the fresh garlic will give a more intense flavor than if you were to use the garlic powder. Add onion powder, salt and pepper and combine well.
This salad dressing is kept in the refrigerator for up to a week if using garlic powder, and 3-4 days if using fresh garlic.
Ranch Dressing – 2 Ways (Fresh and Dried Herbs)
Ranch using dried herbs:
Ranch using dried herbs:
- Combine all dried ingredients in a jar. Makes about ½ cup of dried mix.
- To make ranch dressing: in a small bowl, combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the dried ranch mix. Stir well. Adjust for salt.
- If using as a salad dressing, add water a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. It's best to keep ranch as thick as possible if using it as dip.
Ranch using fresh herbs
- Chop fresh dill, fresh parsley, and fresh green onions or chives.
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream, yogurt, and mayonnaise.
- Add all herbs and either the fresh minced garlic clove OR dried garlic powder.
- Add onion powder, salt and pepper and combine well.
Ranch Fresh Herbs: This salad dressing is kept in the refrigerator for up to a week if using garlic powder, and 3-4 days if using fresh garlic (garlic goes rancid after a few days) Note: If using yogurt instead of buttermilk, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to thin out the dressing a little bit.
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