RanchDressingI’m not really much of a creamy dressing girl anymore. I could drink good balsamic vinegar right from the bottle, so putting ranch dressing on a salad kind of makes me feel like I’m 12 again. My step-mom made ranch dressing from packets of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, using equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream. The packets themselves were always of questionable age, as she liked to buy in bulk. I probably ate ranch dressing on some sort of salad about 1,000 times growing up and I’ve kind of out grown it.

But as an adult, there are certain things that ranch dressing is still essential for. One is a fresh sliced tomato and cucumber salad, picked right out of the garden on a hot summer day, where the tomatoes haven’t even had time to cool down to room temperature. Another is on French fries. (What can I say, it’s a Montana thing – where they don’t even ask you, they just bring it).

But do I really need a dose of MSG, modified food starch and maltodextrin on my home-grown organic tomatoes? Not really. Why not skip the weird ingredients and make my own ranch. There are a LOT of recipes on-line for homemade ranch dressing, including one at Farmgirl Fare and another at Pioneer Woman. This is mine – which is a mash-up of several I’ve found over the years.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise – light is OK, non-fat is disgusting (and if you substitute Miracle Whip…well, there may be no hope for you)
  • ¾ cup sour cream – light is OK, ditto above for non-fat
  • Buttermilk to thin (about ½ cup). I use buttermilk powder and low-fat regular milk instead, because I always have both on hand
  • 1 small clove garlic, very finely minced, pressed, or run through a rasp grater – or ¼ tsp garlic powder. Go easy here – too much can overpower
  • ¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, minced (or 2 tbsp dried)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh onion, chives, or scallions, or ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Optional: fresh or dried dill, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper – start with ½ tsp fresh or ¼ tsp dried (less for cayenne) – and adjust to taste. I personally find simpler is better with ranch, and tend to leave this stuff out – but then I did grow up on Hidden Valley, so that’s where my taste buds tend to land.

Combine all ingredients, except buttermilk, in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add buttermilk until dressing reaches desired consistency – more for dressing – less for dip. Store in air tight jar and refrigerate. Best if allowed to sit for a few hours to allow flavors to blend. Makes about 2 cups. Good for about 2 weeks – though I’ve been known to store it for a lot longer than that. Your results may vary.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2012, where we’re only a few weeks away from having vine ripened tomatoes – I picked an almost ripe cherry on the 4th of July – but the cucumbers may be a bit further behind. And yes, those ARE carrots from the garden. Thank you for asking. Grin.