One of the best things about traveling is going into a local grocery store and finding weird stuff. For anyone that’s done this in the United Kingdom (check out the latest UK dispatch from Sporked’s Jordan Myrick), the weird product that most likely caught your eye was salad cream. Those two words don’t seem like they should go together, and yet here we are. Is it just a bottle of yellowish, liquidy mayo waiting to be squirted on a salad? What is salad cream? What’s in it and how do you make it? Let’s answer all these creamy questions.
What is salad cream?
Salad cream is a creamy, pale-yellow condiment, popular in the United Kingdom. Salad cream can be used as a salad dressing, but it’s also popular as a mayonnaise alternative. Salad cream is the first product that Heinz created exclusively for the British market. But people there already had a taste for salad cream before Heinz came calling.
What is in salad cream?
Salad cream comes from a category of salad dressing that was popular back in the 1800s called boiled dressing. See, back then, any kind of vegetable oil was hard to come by and priced at a premium in Northern Europe. Mayonnaise and a lot of the salad dressing we know today includes vegetable oil as an ingredient. So, as a workaround, people would cook egg yolks and vinegar over light heat to create an emulsification similar to what you could get from mixing oil with eggs. This made boiled dressing, which was like thinner mayonnaise. So, what was in that old school salad cream? Hard-boiled eggs puréed with cream, mustard, salt, and vinegar.
When the condiment king, Heinz, entered the UK market, they created their own bottled salad cream. Shortly after that, due to World War I rationing, things like ketchup and mayo proved hard to come by. So, British folks turned to Hienz’s salad cream. Salad cream became a go-to condiment not just for salads, but as a sandwich spread and a topper for things like chips (french fries to us Yanks) and beans.
How to make salad cream?
You can whip up your own salad cream at home using the old fashioned recipe. You just need some heavy cream, sugar, hard-boiled egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and vinegar. Throw the egg yolks, mustard, sugar, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar into a blender and whir those suckers up. Then slowly blend in the cream. The store-bought stuff substitutes oil and cornflour for the cream.
Can you use salad cream instead of mayo?
Sure! Salad cream is more of a mayo substitute than a salad dressing. Just as the U.S. has its mayo versus Miracle Whip debate, there seems to be a hard divide amongst Brits with some on team mayo and some on team salad cream. Salad cream is more liquidy than mayonnaise and has a slightly more astringent flavor. It’s less sweet and more vinegar forward. Feel free to use salad cream the same way you would use mayonnaise by spreading it on a sandwich or using it to dip your french fries. More adventurous diners should throw a dollop on their beans and toast, pizzas, fruit, and whatever else they please. Personally, I love to add a big old pour of salad cream on top of my mayonnaise. Now that’s some creamy goodness!