A dip is a condiment where you immerse food in it. It is popular in many cultures and cuisines, where it is traditionally served with finger foods and appetizers in parties. It is believed that this condiment originated in the 1950s, with California dip being the first one. However, some historians claim that it was James Beard who popularized dips as early as 1940. Beard mentions the concept of “dunking” in his very first cookbook. Regardless of its 19th-century history, the Middle Eastern dip called hummus was already made in the 18th century – some even claim that it was first prepared in the 12th century!
Moreover, a dip can be sweet, savory, mild, or spicy. Or, it could be a combination of those. It can also have a thick consistency like hummus, or it can be as thin as a vinegar. In addition, most dips are cold; however, some are also served hot like the popular cheese fondue and chocolate fountain. Indeed, there are countless varieties of dips in the world and some of which take time to do. Thus, manufacturers started producing dip mixes to expedite the process. With this, dry seasonings are already pre-blended and all you have to do is add some wet ingredients like mayonnaise, sour cream, and a lot more. And although dip mixes are traditionally used as a dip, nowadays, it is also used as a sandwich or bread spread.
Dip Mix Trivia
- The U.S.A. celebrates National Chip and Dip Day every March 23.
- The U.S.A. honors salsa for the entire month of May.
- Salsa and Tortilla chips has been the Official State Snack of Texas since 2003.
Dip Mix Buying Guide
Dip mixes can be a little more convenient than crafting one from scratch. Not to mention that it is widely available in the state. However, besides the fact that it could have a lot of preservatives and additives, it might be confusing on which ones to buy. Hence, we’ve compiled some of the most popular and “cannot go wrong” dip mixes for your convenience. Here are as follows:
- Chili con Queso – Also known as queso, chili con queso is a Spanish phrase that translates to “chile with cheese.” It is a staple dip in the Tex-Mex cuisine that consists of molten cheese and chili peppers. Velveeta is the common brand of cheese used, but cream cheese, Monterey Jack, or any other processed cheese can substitute. This warm dip is traditionally served with tortilla chips, pita chips, or tortillas.
- Chili con Carne – Home to the city of San Antonio, Texas, chili con carne is made with chili peppers, beef, tomatoes, and sometimes beans. It is a Spanish phrase which means “chili with meat” and it was initially created as a stew. However, due to its popularity, this has become a popular dip as well. It is also paired with tortilla chips, pita chips, or tortillas. And, you can serve this over a bed of plain rice with a scoop of sour cream on top. Furthermore, it makes a good addition to burritos and tacos.
- Choriqueso – Likewise, choriqueso is also a Spanish word and a staple dip in the Tex-Mex cuisine. It is a portmanteau of “chorizo” and “cheese.” This dip reigns in the South Texas border town of Laredo, where a stringy white cheese stuffed with chorizo sausage is prevalently offered in local restaurants. This warm and creamy dip, traditionally served in a skillet, is also commonly paired with tortilla chips, pita chips, or tortillas.
- Salsa – Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce.” However, it is dominantly used as a dip. Although salsa mainly consists of chopped tomatoes, onions, and a variety of chile peppers, it is home to many varieties. Some include the following: Salsa Roja, pico de gallo or Salsa Fresca, Salsa Cruda, Salsa Verde, Salsa Negra, Salsa Taquera, Salsa Criolla, salsa ranchera, avocado salsa, pineapple salsa, chipotle salsa, habanero salsa, corn salsa, and many more. Nevertheless, salsa is proven to be the dip and the condiment of choice for enchiladas and tacos. Likewise, it is also a popular dip for tortillas, pita, and tortilla chips.
- Guacamole – This dip mainly consists of avocados, lime juice, and sea salt. Likewise, it is also a popular dip and/or side dish for tortillas, pita, and tortilla chips.
- Smoked Tuna Dip – A popular dip in and around the Gulf Coast wherein cream cheese and hot sauce are both mixed in smoked albacore or yellowfin tuna.
- Warm Bean Dip – This dip is also known as 7 layer bean dip or Texas trash dip. It is primarily made with refried beans, avocados or guacamole, gooey cheese, sour cream, olives, and chilies or salsa. This dip can be served cold too! And not only that it works perfectly on all chips, but it also pairs well with freshly baked sliders.
Dip Mix Production & Farming in Texas
The state of Texas is home to many producers of dip mixes. Hill Country Fare is just one of the major ones. Also, local artisans offer many homemade and scratch-made varieties at select farmers markets. Here, you’ll get close to no preservatives and the ingredients are usually organic. You also might be able to get free samples along the way. Our Texas Real Food website is home to all Texan vendors that would love to hear from you. On another note, dip mixes sold in the state are usually the dry ones, where you have to add wet ingredients like sour cream or mayonnaise to complete the dipping sauce. Meanwhile, you can also purchase canned ingredients like refried beans and make the dip at home (see recipe below).
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
Indeed, dip mixes are more convenient than blending one at home; however, it will never be our best choice as most of them contain additives and chemicals for a lower cost yet fast-producing and shelf-stable products. Hence, here are some additives that we found on top brands:
- MSG – Monosodium Glutamate is used to enhance the flavor of almost any product. It is the one responsible for creating that umami flavor. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it can cause headaches, flushing, palpitations, sweating, nausea, numbness, and weakness to some people. It allegedly can cause asthma, brain damages, and even cancer; however, these allegations remained controversial.
- Sodium – Although sodium is a natural food that balances our body fluids, it can cause harm when consumed past its RDA which is 2,300 mg per day.
- Artificial Flavorings – These are usually chemically-formulated products that are used to intensify the flavors of the product. Although they are labeled as such due to its very small quantitative participation, it’s always a better option to stay away from these ingredients. For commercial dip mixes, some of which come in the following names: disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium succinate, sodium phosphate, soy protein isolate, TBHQ, and alike.
- Natural Flavorings – Likewise, these are additives that are used to intensify the flavors of the product.
- Dextrose and Maltodextrin – It is a type of sugar that acts as an artificial sweetener, food neutralizer, and a preservative. Too much consumption of this ingredient can lead to body fluid build-up and high blood sugar.
- Modified Food Starch – This additive is usually made with wheat, potato, corn, or tapioca. It acts as a binding agent, thickener, stabilizer, and preservative. This additive offers empty calories – they provide no nutritional value, yet it adds a considerable amount of carbohydrates which can promote weight gain. This ingredient should also be avoided by someone who is gluten intolerant.
- Silicon Dioxide – This chemical compound is also known as silica. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer, anticaking agent, and carrier for aroma and flavor. Although it is safe to consume, it can lead to lung problems when consumed past its RDA.
- Sodium Citrate – This additive is also known as trisodium citrate. It is the salt found in citric acid. It acts as a preservative and a flavor enhancer, while reducing the acidity in food. Although it is classified as safe to consume, it can cause weight gain, mood changes, weakness, or cramps.
- Thickening agents – Added in the right amount, these thickening agents improve the viscosity of any food without changing its taste. Some natural thickeners include corn starch, potato starch, yellow cornmeal, wheat flour, and other flours.
- Calcium Stearate – This additive acts as an anticaking agent in foods where it binds and lubricates the products at the same time. Some calcium stearates are plant-derived while others are derived from animals like cows and pigs.
- Citric Acid – This additive is a natural preservative in foods. It is a weak and organic acid that is found on citrus fruits. Thus, citric acid adds that sour or acidic taste to the product. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it may cause muscle cramps, weight gain, stomach pain, and convulsions.
Dip mixes can be bought in either liquid or powdered form which can be packaged in a variety of ways. The dry ones come in pouches and single-use packets, while the liquid ones come in jugs, bottles, and plastic containers.
Enjoying Dip Mix
Dip mixes are commonly prepared with the addition of wet ingredients like mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, etc. Once the dip is done, it is commonly enjoyed with something sturdy so that it can hold the dip. The most popular are the following: tortilla chips, crackers, toasts, bagel crisps, pretzels, thick potato chips, pear slices, apple slices, and raw vegetables. Dips are also popular in parties; it is served as part of the hors d’oeuvres.
The storage and shelf life of dip mixes vary depending on their ingredients. A dip mix should be kept in a sealed and air-tight container. Dry dip mixes should then be stored in a cool and dry area far from humid and hot zones like stoves, grills, and ovens to prolong their shelf life. On the other hand, liquid dip mixes should be transferred in the refrigerator upon opening, where it would last perfectly for up to 6 months. Also, if your mix contains flour, nuts, powdered cheese, and milk, such as chile con queso and nacho cheese dip mixes, it is best to use the mix within 1 year. Otherwise, your dip mixes could last up to 2 years.
Let’s get dippin’!
Now that we know a lot about dip mixes. It’s time to put our creativity to test. Below is one quick recipe that you will all love. It is none other than the famous Texas Trash Dip! This creamy bean dip is nutritious and flavorful. The molten cheese, along with the rich refried beans will surely warm your cold nights.
Yield: 8 servings
- 1 16-oz can of refried beans
- 4 oz cream cheese
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Whisk all the ingredients except the cheese in a medium-sized bowl.
- Transfer it to a baking pan, spreading evenly.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown in color.
- Serve with tortilla chips or your favorite dipper. Enjoy!