With Fourth of July right around the corner and a plethora of red, white, and blue foods, it dawned on me that I wanted to try to make my own condiments for the holiday. Essential to slather on burgers and hot dogs, ketchup and mustard are surprisingly simple to make. Both require very little time in the kitchen, but the mustard seeds need two days to soak in vinegar and water.

The exceptional and robust flavor of homemade condiments is incomparable to those bought at the store. I made two different mustards — one made from yellow mustard seeds and the other from black mustard seeds. The yellow mustard is mild, whereas the black is spicy with a wasabi-like taste. The ketchup has a smoky depth thanks to a combination of chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, and allspice. Although I followed the recipes exactly, you could alter the amount of spices to suit your taste buds. Here's how to add extra pizzazz to your Fourth.

Homemade Ketchup

Homemade Ketchup

Homemade Ketchup

Ingredients

1 (28- to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika (I used a spicy paprika)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Puree tomatoes with juice in a blender until smooth.
  2. Cook onion and garlic in oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add spices and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomato puree, tomato paste, brown sugar, and vinegar, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 45 to 55 minutes (stir more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent scorching).
  5. Puree ketchup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Chill at least 2 hours (for flavors to develop). Can keep for 1 month in fridge.
Homemade Mustard

Homemade Mustard

Homemade Mustard

Ingredients

1/2 cup yellow or black mustard seeds
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. Soak mustard seeds in vinegar and water at room temperature 2 days. (If seeds are not submerged, add just enough additional water to cover.)
  2. Puree mixture in a food processor with sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt until almost smooth, about 2 minutes. Thin to desired consistency with additional water, and season with salt.