With summer weather comes prime condiment season.
Red Duck has got you covered, no matter what you’re grilling.
The Portland, OR-company makes a range of ketchups, barbecue sauces and taco sauces, all gluten-free and certified organic. The tomatoes used are all grown in California’s Central Valley, too, picked ripe in season from late-June through July.
The business is the brainchild of four MBA students who were studying at the University of Oregon when they came up with the idea for the condiments for a class project. The name “Red Duck” takes its name from the color of ketchup, their first product, plus the mascot of their college.
There are 11 products now, sold either separately or in trio samplers: “Quite Traditional” (Original Ketchup, Approachably Mild Taco Sauce, and Smoked Applewood Molasses BBQ Sauce); “So Unique” (Curry Ketchup, Uniquely Korean Taco Sauce, and Sweet Mustard Peppercorn BBQ Sauce); and “Fairly Spicy” (Spicy Ketchup, Actually Spicy Taco Sauce, and Hot Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce).
I had a chance to try samples of the “Quite Traditional” and “So Unique” sets.
The Original Ketchup stacks up very well to my standby Heinz Organic. A tablespoon serving of the Red Duck Original Ketchup has 10 calories, 40mg sodium, 3g total carbs, and 0 percent total fat; while a tablespoon of the Heinz Organic has 20 calories, 190mg sodium, 5g total carbs, and 0 percent fat. All in all, the Red Duck ketchup has half the calories and substantially less sodium, a big win if you’re counting calories or trying to cut your salt intake.
As for the taste, the Red Duck is reminiscent of the Heinz you grew up on, but with a deeper tomato paste flavor. It’s plenty zingy and fruity sweet to satisfy your nostalgic cravings, too. The Red Duck Curry Ketchup is so delicious, it just might replace any other ketchup in your house. It warms the taste buds with turmeric and cumin. Imagine it on your own currywurst sausage or on scrambled eggs.
Although I didn’t try the “Fairly Spicy” set, the Mild Taco Sauce still has a nice modest amount of heat on the palate. Flavored with cumin, garlic, orange peel and carrot puree, it has depths of flavor. It would be great not only spooned over pork, chicken or shrimp tacos, but even stirred into a pot of beans.
The Korean Taco Sauce has a wallop of heat — not a painful one but definitely enough to make you sit up and take notice from the first taste. It’s a blend of tomato paste, miso, soy sauce, and molasses, along with Korean pepper and bird’s eye chili. Just imagine it spooned over kalbi ribs or even used in a stir-fry of broccoli and beef.
The Smoked Applewood Molasses BBQ Sauce is very traditional tasting — tangy, fruity, and peppery with paprika. It’s made for slathering on ribs and brisket. Made with garlic, turmeric, lemon peel, the Sweet Mustard Peppercorn BBQ Sauce is quite piquant and mustard-forward with extra sharp twang from the vinegar. It would wake up anything grilled. It would also be delicious for making potato salad or tossed with chilled green beans.
Entries, open only to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight June 22. Winner will be announced June 24.
How to win?
Just tell me one of your most favorite Fourth of July memories. Best answer wins.
Here’s my own answer:
Many years ago, when I was a summer intern at the venerable Boston Globe, I lived in a small studio apartment. I lucked out because it was in the chic Beacon Hill neighborhood. Even more fortunate, it had a big rooftop deck overlooking the esplanade shell-shaped stage at the edge of the Charles River. The owners of the apartment had told me it was the best place to spend the Fourth of July because from that vantage point, you could not only see the Boston Pops playing there, but hear them. In fact, residents were known to bring their boom-boxes (yes, you can tell how long ago this was) up to the roof and tune it to the live concert broadcast. So on that most patriotic of holidays, I invited all of my fellow Globe interns over to my place. I made a pasta salad, and they brought chips and salsa, cookies, and beer. As the sun went down, we all hightailed it up to the roof, where we listened to the strains of John Phillips Souza as clear as a bell, while watching with glee as the skies lit up with flamboyant fireworks. It was a perfect moment, just magical in every way.