A Look at a Label: Bottled Salad Dressings


A while ago I came across a food blog that was featuring a homemade vinaigrette for salad. The well-intentioned blogger appeared to have a bias against commercial salad dressing, saying that pre-bottled product contains “nasty” ingredients. (Sigh.) What exactly ARE those “nasty” ingredients in pre-packaged salad dressing, and what function do they serve?

Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette:

Listed Ingredient Flavor Appearance Texture Other Notes
Water X X Contributes to product viscosity (thickness), intensity of flavor, and contributes to stability.
Vinegar X X Impacts product stability, and contributes to flavor (and viscosity).
Vegetable oils (Extra virgin olive oil, soybean, canola) X X X Contributes to mouthfeel and product viscosity (higher oil : water ratio usually means a thicker product).
Corn syrup X
Sugar X
Parmesan Cheese X X X
Basil X X X
Salt X Also impacts product shelf life and stability.
Garlic/Dried X X X
Onions X X X
Spice X X X
Red Bell Peppers X X X
Lemon Juice Concentrate X Also impacts product stability via acidity.
Carrots X X X
Xanthan Gum X X Builds viscosity. More detail here.
Phosphoric Acid A preservative used to maintain product stability.
Potassium Sorbate A preservative used to maintain product stability.
Calcium Disodium EDTA A preservative used to maintain product stability. Can also fight rancidity.

Nasty or not? You decide. Whether you choose to use pre-packaged salad dressing or you’d rather make your own, you now know why these mysterious ingredients make it into your dressing bottle. Another label, demystified.

[gmc_recipe 1924]

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