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Is this British Condiment the Missing Ingredient in your Life?



I grew up eating cucumber sandwiches, beans on toast, crumpets, and other typically English foods. But for some reason, I was an adult before I had the pleasure of eating my first sandwich pickle. 

It was made with butter spread uniformly on each slice and a not-too-thick cut of Gloucester and finished with a large drop of Branston Pickle. It was a precise, yet simple process that yielded a perfectly delicious sandwich. 

I fell in love with the combination of sweet, savory, acidic, and sticky flavors contrasted by the fat from the cheese. Even though I sometimes added tomato slices to what became my go-to meal when I wanted a nice lunch sans cooking. 

Once I got introduced to the Sandwich Pickle, every trip to the UK became an opportunity to stock up on Branston Pickle. 

Branston Pickle is a decidedly British condiment. It is the equivalent of Marmite or HP Sauce. Branston Pickle has maintained the same recipe since 1922 and faces little competition. The brand sells more than 17 million bottles each year.

A typical British ‘ploughman’s lunch’ comprises bread, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, and pickle. Branston pickle is present in most British kitchens.

What gives Branston Pickle its unmistakable character is the mishmash of sugar, applesauce, spices, date paste, and barley malt vinegar which gives it the quality of aged umami. The other ingredients are cauliflower, carrots, onion, and rutabaga.

It is these vegetables that make up the lumpy bits inside the pickle. These lumps may or may not settle dead center on your sandwich. 

If you do not like the lumps, there is always the smooth version of Branston Pickle. The small-chunk version of Branston Pickle spreads more evenly while still giving you something to chew. 

You can choose any of the three versions of Branston Pickle, depending on how you intend to use it. Branston Pickle has many uses beyond sandwiches.

I find the condiment just as delicious on Triscuits and sharp cheddar cheese as it is on a melted cheese toast.

I have spread Branston Pickle on dosa and used it on deviled eggs. The smooth version works better for this.

Branston has been making chutneys for a few years now. Their caramelized onion chutney is quite good – you want to partner it with a bold Stilton. But none of them beats the Branston Sandwich Pickle to me.

Seven years ago, I moved to the US. For the first time, I did not know where to buy my favorite British condiment. When I made a cheese sandwich, I used sweet lime chutney or date relish. But I still missed my beloved Branston Pickle.

One day I accidentally found a little bit of Britain tucked away in Brooklyn, New York. I walked into a lovely store called Two for the Pot at the edge of Brooklyn Heights. I was browsing a range of loose-leaf teas, coffees, jams, spices, and biscuits when I saw more than a few jars of Branston Pickle. I bought a few bags of Walker’s crisps, a pack of Hobnobs, and more than a few jars of Branston Pickle. 

Thankfully, it is now easy to buy Branston Pickle online. Only the no-chunk version seems harder to find on the internet. But it is still comforting to know that I am a few Subway stops away from a local supply of Branston Pickle. 

I may not eat it out of the jar or mix it into pasta-like some people do, but Branston Pickle is my go-to condiment for a cheese and pickle sandwich. 


Ten Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Condiments




In the world of culinary arts, the right condiment can transform a dish from ordinary to extraordinary. From the tangy bite of mustard to the umami depth of soy sauce, condiments are the unsung heroes of the kitchen. Recently, ten renowned Australian chefs shared their go-to condiments, revealing the secret ingredients that elevate their culinary creations. These chefs, each with their unique style and preferences, offer a glimpse into the diverse world of flavors that define contemporary Australian cuisine.

Dan Hong: Kombu Tsuyu

Dan Hong, the executive chef at several Sydney eateries and host of The Streets Hong Kong on SBS on Demand, swears by kombu tsuyu. This Japanese-style soy sauce, enriched with kombu and bonito, is both sweet and lower in salt compared to regular soy sauce. Hong prefers the Yamasa brand for its versatility, using it as a base for noodle dishes, dressings, and even to season broths. “If instant noodles turn out too watery, a splash of kombu tsuyu restores their depth,” he explains. His children enjoy it mixed with rice, sesame oil, and seaweed, calling it “tasty rice” (The Guardian).

Karen Martini: Yuzu Kosho

Karen Martini, cookbook author and culinary director at Saint George restaurant in Melbourne, is passionate about yuzu kosho, a paste made from yuzu zest and chili. Martini began experimenting with this condiment when fresh yuzu became available in Melbourne, creating versions with mandarin and red chili. Traditionally served with rich meats or sashimi, Martini enjoys it with roast duck and grilled seafood. “I recently incorporated it into quickly stir-fried cabbage cooked in bacon fat,” she shares (The Guardian).

Alejandro Huerta: Valentina Hot Sauce

Alejandro Huerta, head chef and co-owner of Comedor wine bar in Sydney, brings a taste of Mexico to Australia with Valentina hot sauce. This spicy and tangy sauce, made from vinegar, garlic, and chilies, is a staple on restaurant tables in Mexico. Huerta fondly recalls packing a small container of it in his lunch as a child to enjoy with jicama or cucumber. “Living in Australia, I frequent the cinema weekly and have missed that flavor combination, so my wife brings a bottle of Valentina along for our popcorn,” he reveals (The Guardian).

Stephanie Feher: Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chili Oil

Stephanie Feher, cook and Instagram influencer at Dragon Sup Club, favors Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow chili oil. Known for its balanced flavor, this chili oil complements a variety of dishes without overwhelming them. Feher appreciates its straightforward ingredients: soybeans, garlic, chili peppers, sugar, sesame seeds, and MSG. “I enjoyed it in hot pot yesterday, and it works wonders on pizza, in dumpling dipping sauces, and with creamy dishes like burrata,” she says (The Guardian).

Neil Perry: Horseradish Cream

Neil Perry, chef-owner of Margaret restaurant in Sydney, enjoys topping his steak with horseradish cream. This condiment adds a hint of heat and creaminess that complements the flavors of dry-aged steak without overshadowing them. Perry makes this condiment by grating fresh horseradish and blending it with mayonnaise and whipping cream. “It offers a subtle flavor with a pleasant warmth,” he notes (The Guardian).

Bart Jr: Sambal Oelek

At Bart Jr, sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili paste, is the most frequently used condiment. This fermented chili paste adds a delightful kick to various dishes. The chefs at Bart Jr appreciate its ability to enhance flavors without overpowering them, making it a versatile addition to their culinary arsenal (The Guardian).

The Importance of Condiments in Culinary Arts

Condiments play a crucial role in the culinary arts, offering chefs a way to enhance and balance flavors. According to the Food Network, condiments like Kewpie mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and Red Boat fish sauce are essential in many professional kitchens. These condiments provide chefs with the tools to create complex flavor profiles that delight the palate.

Training and Expertise of Australian Chefs

Becoming a chef in Australia requires formal qualifications and extensive hands-on experience. Chefs typically complete a Certificate III or IV in Commercial Cookery, often through an apprenticeship, which provides them with the practical skills needed to excel in the kitchen ( This rigorous training ensures that chefs are well-versed in various cooking techniques and knowledgeable about a wide range of ingredients and condiments.


The favorite condiments of these ten Australian chefs highlight the diverse and dynamic nature of contemporary Australian cuisine. From the umami-rich kombu tsuyu to the fiery Valentina hot sauce, these condiments are integral to the chefs’ culinary creations. By sharing their secret ingredients, these chefs offer a glimpse into the flavors that inspire them and the techniques that define their cooking. Whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef, experimenting with these condiments can elevate your dishes and bring new dimensions to your culinary repertoire.

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The Hidden Power of Herbs and Spices: Revolutionizing Food Ingredients for a Healthier Future




In the evolving landscape of the food industry, the spotlight is increasingly falling on the humble herbs and spices. These natural flavor enhancers are proving to be formidable allies in the quest to improve food quality by replacing less desirable ingredients. The latest research and trends highlight how these natural ingredients are stepping up to the plate, not only to enrich flavor but also to offer health benefits, reduce artificial additives, and support sustainable practices.

The Historical Context

Historically, herbs and spices have played a crucial role in culinary traditions across the globe. From the vibrant turmeric used in Indian cuisine to the aromatic basil in Mediterranean dishes, these ingredients have been cherished for their flavor and medicinal properties. However, their role has expanded significantly in recent years, particularly in response to changing consumer preferences and advancements in food technology.

The Shift from Artificial to Natural

The low-fat craze of the 1990s led many food companies to remove saturated fats from their products, often replacing them with sugar and other artificial additives to maintain taste and texture. This shift, however, had unintended health consequences, contributing to the rise in obesity and related diseases. Today, there is a growing demand for natural, healthier alternatives, and herbs and spices are at the forefront of this movement.

Recent studies have demonstrated that herbs and spices can effectively replace artificial additives without compromising on flavor or shelf life. For example, rosemary extract is being used as a natural preservative due to its antioxidant properties, while spices like cinnamon and clove are known for their antimicrobial benefits. This not only enhances the nutritional profile of food products but also aligns with consumer demand for clean labels and transparency in food sourcing.

Enhancing Flavor and Nutrition

One of the significant advantages of using herbs and spices is their ability to enhance the flavor profile of food naturally. Culinary experts and food scientists are exploring how these ingredients can replace high levels of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. According to the American Heart Association, reducing sodium intake is crucial for heart health, and herbs and spices offer a flavorful alternative.

For instance, a study published in the Journal of Food Science highlighted that using a blend of herbs and spices can significantly reduce the need for salt without sacrificing taste. This approach is particularly beneficial in processed foods, where high sodium content has been a longstanding issue. Furthermore, spices such as cayenne pepper and ginger are known for their metabolism-boosting properties, adding another layer of health benefits.

The Science Behind the Flavor

The effectiveness of herbs and spices in improving food quality is rooted in their complex chemical compositions. These ingredients are rich in essential oils, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds that interact synergistically to enhance flavor and provide health benefits. For example, the antioxidant properties of turmeric’s active compound, curcumin, have been extensively researched for their potential anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.

Moreover, the use of advanced extraction techniques, such as supercritical fluid extraction, has enabled the industry to isolate and concentrate these beneficial compounds more effectively. This not only improves the potency and consistency of herbal extracts but also opens up new possibilities for their application in food products.

Industry Innovations and Applications

The food industry is witnessing a surge in innovations that leverage the power of herbs and spices. Companies are developing new products that cater to health-conscious consumers by incorporating these natural ingredients in various forms, such as powders, extracts, and essential oils. For example, the incorporation of herb and spice blends in snack foods, beverages, and even dairy products is becoming increasingly common.

A notable example is the use of oregano oil in meat products to extend shelf life and enhance safety. According to a report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, oregano oil’s antimicrobial properties make it an effective natural preservative, reducing the reliance on synthetic additives. Similarly, the beverage industry is exploring the use of spices like ginger and cardamom to create health-boosting drinks that appeal to modern consumers.

Addressing Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

In addition to health benefits, the use of herbs and spices aligns with broader sustainability and ethical sourcing goals. Many of these ingredients are grown in regions that rely on sustainable agricultural practices, supporting local economies and reducing the carbon footprint associated with food production. The Fair Trade movement, for instance, ensures that herbs and spices are sourced ethically, providing fair wages and improving living conditions for farmers.

The focus on sustainability is also driving research into vertical farming and hydroponic systems for growing herbs in urban settings. This approach not only reduces the environmental impact but also ensures a fresh and consistent supply of high-quality ingredients year-round.

Challenges and Future Prospects

Despite the promising potential of herbs and spices, there are challenges that the industry must address. Ensuring consistent quality and potency, overcoming regulatory hurdles, and managing costs are critical factors that need attention. However, ongoing research and technological advancements are paving the way for overcoming these obstacles.

The future of food looks promising with the integration of herbs and spices. As the industry continues to innovate and adapt, these natural ingredients are set to play a pivotal role in creating healthier, tastier, and more sustainable food products. The synergy between traditional culinary wisdom and modern science is unlocking new possibilities, making it an exciting time for food enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers alike.

In conclusion, the transformative power of herbs and spices in the food industry is undeniable. From enhancing flavor and nutrition to supporting sustainability and ethical sourcing, these ingredients are leading the charge toward a healthier and more responsible food system. As research and innovation continue to unfold, we can expect to see even more creative and beneficial applications of these natural wonders in our daily diets.

For more information on the latest trends and research in food science, visit the Food and Drug Administration and the American Society for Nutrition. These resources provide valuable insights and updates on how the food industry is evolving to meet the needs of today’s health-conscious consumers.

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Sweet Proteins: The Future of Sugar Alternatives




In the quest for healthier food options, the spotlight has recently turned to an innovative category of sweeteners: sweet proteins. A groundbreaking study published in Food Research International delves into the potential of these proteins as a substitute for sugar, focusing on the impact of health-focused messaging in promoting their consumption.

The Sugar Dilemma

Europeans consume an average of 34 kg of sugar annually, more than triple the World Health Organization’s recommendation. This excessive intake is linked to rising obesity rates and other health issues. Despite efforts like taxing sugary foods and beverages, and stricter marketing regulations, sugar consumption remains high.

Enter Sweet Proteins

Sweet proteins, such as thaumatin, offer a promising solution. These proteins are derived from natural sources using precision fermentation, a process involving yeast to express and isolate proteins found in some fruits. Unlike artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame, sweet proteins don’t carry associated health risks and are digestible and non-allergenic.

The Study’s Approach

The study explored how perceptions of health and naturalness influence attitudes toward products containing sweet proteins. Researchers conducted experiments using messages that emphasized either the health benefits or the naturalness of sweet proteins. Participants, aged between 20 and 70, were responsible for household food purchases.

Key Findings

The study revealed that health-related messaging significantly influenced attitudes towards sweet proteins. Participants exposed to health-focused messages showed more favorability towards these proteins compared to those who received messages about their naturalness. This effect was particularly pronounced in individuals with higher body mass index (BMI) levels and those experiencing anticipatory guilt about sugar consumption.

Interestingly, the study also found that people who regularly consume alternative sweeteners responded more positively to the naturalness messaging, possibly due to the anticipatory pleasure of consuming sweeteners.

Implications for Public Health

These findings have significant implications for public health strategies aimed at reducing sugar intake. By effectively framing sweet proteins as a healthy and natural alternative to sugar, it’s possible to influence consumer attitudes and, potentially, their consumption habits.

The Road Ahead

While the study provides valuable insights, the authors acknowledge that changing attitudes may not always lead to altered consumption behaviors. Future research should focus on how these attitudes translate into actual dietary choices.


Sweet proteins emerge as a viable, health-conscious alternative to sugar, with the potential to revolutionize our approach to sweetening foods and beverages. As we continue to explore and understand the best ways to introduce these proteins into the market, they represent a significant step forward in the journey towards healthier eating habits.

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