Ranch dressing is a buttermilk- and mayonnaise-based dressing flavored with dried herbs. It is served with salads and vegetables as well as other dishes. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is probably the most famous of a wide range of name brands. It is sold as a dry mix to be added to buttermilk and mayonnaise or as a bottled dressing.
Dry Mix Ingredients
Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Dry Mix contains maltodextrin, buttermilk, salt, monosodium glutamate, dried garlic, dried onion, lactic acid, calcium lactate, citric acid, spices, artificial flavor, xanthan gum, calcium stearate, carboxymethylcellulose and guar gum, according to the label, with the ingredients listed in descending order according to weight. Buttermilk, salt, dried garlic, dried onion and the unnamed spices are the main ingredients in the dressing. The remaining ingredients are emulsifiers, sweetener and flavor additives.
Purpose of Each Ingredient
Maltodextrin is derived from corn syrup, and is a mildly sweet flavoring agent. Xanthan gum and guar gum are thickeners, from natural sources. Carboxymethylcellulose is a fiber, added as a thickener and stabilizer. It is derived from vegetable sources. Calcium stearate is an emulsifier and anti-caking agent. Lactic acid, calcium lactate and citric acid are used to add a sharp taste, similar to fermented milk or vinegar.
Bottled Hidden Valley Dressing
Bottled Hidden Valley Dressing contains soybean oil, water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, buttermilk, natural flavors (soy), spices and less than 1 percent of dried garlic, dried onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, artificial flavors, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, according to the label.
Purpose of Ingredients in the Bottled Dressing
Modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate and disodium guanlyate are all flavor enhancers that contain or produce glutamate. They add a savory, meaty taste -- called umami -- to foods. They are generally recognized as safe, but perhaps should be avoided by people who are sensitive to MSG. Disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are more expensive than monosodium glutamate, but they are used because they significantly enhance the effect of monosodium glutamate, according to UnderstandingFoodAdditives.org.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
To 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of mayonnaise, add 1 tsp. dried onion, 1 tsp. dried garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. mustard plus 2 tbsp. each diced parsley and minced chives. This recipe makes 16 servings, each 2 tbsp. Each serving contains 66 calories, 5 g of fat, 195 mg of sodium, 5 g of carbohydrates and less than 1 g of protein.