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Dips

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A dip or dipping sauce is a common condiment for many types of food. Dips are used to add flavour or texture to a food, such as pita bread, dumplings, crackers, cut-up raw vegetables, fruits, seafood, cubed pieces of meat and cheese, potato chips, tortilla chips and falafel. Unlike other sauces, instead of applying the sauce to the food, the food is typically put, dipped or added into the dipping sauce (hence the name).

Dips are commonly used for finger foods, appetizers and other easily held foods. Thick dips based on sour cream, crème fraiche, milk, yogurt, mayonnaise, soft cheese or beans are a staple of American hors d'oeuvres and are thinner than spreads which can be thinned to make dips. Dips in various forms are eaten all over the world and people have been using sauces for dipping for thousands of years.

Vinaigrette is made by mixing an oil with something acidic such as vinegar or lemon juice. The mixture can be enhanced with salt, herbs and/or spices. It is used most commonly as a salad dressing, but can also be used as a marinade. Traditionally, vinaigrette consists of 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar mixed into a stable emulsion, but the term is also applied to mixtures with different proportions and to unstable emulsions which last only a short time before separating into layered oil and vinegar phases. Vinaigrette may be made with a variety of oils and vinegars. Olive oil and neutral vegetable oils such as soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil or grape seed oil are all common.

In northern France, it may be made with walnut oil and cider vinegar and used for Belgian endive salad.

In the United States, vinaigrettes may include a wide range of additions such as lemon, truffles, raspberries, sugar, garlic and cherries. Cheese, parmesan or blue cheese being the most common, may also be added. Commercially bottled versions may include emulsifiers such as lecithin.

In Southeast Asia, rice bran oil and white vinegar are used as a foundation with fresh herbs, chilli peppers, nuts and lemon juice.

Different vinegars, such as raspberry, create different flavours, and lemon juice or alcohol, such as sherry, may be used instead of vinegar. Balsamic vinaigrette is made by adding a small amount of balsamic vinegar to a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and wine vinegar.

In Brazil, a mix between olive oil, alcohol vinegar, tomatoes, onions and sometimes bell peppers is called vinagrete. It is served on Brazilian churrasco, commonly on Sundays.

Crudités are traditional French appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are sometimes dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauce. Crudités often include celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, bell pepper strips, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel and asparagus spears, sometimes olives, depending on local custom. Crudités are generally quite high in healthy nutrients and dietary fibre, and low in calories, fats, sodium, sugars and cholesterol. However, the accompanying dip can be high in sodium, sugar and possibly fats, although in the case of a vinaigrette, salsa or hummus typically not in saturated or trans fats. Other dips, such as cheese sauces or dips based on cream, sour cream or mayonnaise, may have high saturated fat content.

Note that crudités alone do not make for a complete meal, since they may not have enough nutrients.

Since they are uncooked, crudités must be washed carefully to remove any bacterial contamination. Some dips may also spoil quickly, if left warm and uncovered. Placing the dip, and perhaps the vegetables, in an ice-water bath will slow bacterial growth, as will covering them when they are not being served.