Water, Soybean Oil, Canola Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Vinegar, Salt, Contains less than 2% of Dried Onions, Onion Juice, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum With Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Disodium Edta As Preservatives, Red 40, Apocarotenal (Color), Alpha Tocpherol (Vitamin E), Acetylated Monoglycerides.
This is a typical list of ingredients from a name-brand bottled vinaigrette salad dressing. Yes, you can buy a six-pack of this bottled dressing on Amazon for $20.28. But I would recommend you spend your twenty bucks on a good bottle of organic extra virgin olive oil and one of balsamic vinegar.
First of all, you are paying for the water – which you’ll notice is the first ingredient. Because water is used to keep the price down, artificially produced flavors and chemicals are needed to give the stuff some taste. A bigger concern is the solvent-extracted refined oils that are used in salad dressings and most packaged foods. To get the oil out of the soybean or rapeseed (canola) manufacturers heat the source and put a solvent on it (hexane). The solvent helps the food source disintegrate so that the manufacturer can get all of the oil out. Then the oil is bleached, steam deodorized at 460 degrees, filtered and bottled resulting in a pale yellow, tasteless lubricant. Anyone that knows something about food science will remember that exposure to heat, light and oxygen cause fats to go rancid. The more unstable the fat (less saturated) the more fragile it is. Food manufactures save money by using soybean oil and rapeseed oil because the raw materials come from subsidized crops.
Extra virgin olive oil must be mechanically produced with no heat according to standards set by International Olive Oil Council of Madrid. Extra virgin oil comes from the first pressing of the olives and contains monounsaturated fats which help with its stability (less likely to go rancid).
My advice: make your own salad dressings and marinades using high-quality oils. Less expensive in the long run, more flavor on tonight’s salad.
What’s your favorite homemade salad dressing?