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It’s not uncommon for restaurant owners to use pre-packaged and canned goods in their restaurant recipes. After all, it’s convenient and cost-effective to rely on ready-to-go condiments, pickles and other garnishes. But diners want fresh, house-made ingredients, and using these pre-packaged items could lead them to seek out fresh options elsewhere.

When you make your own commonly canned items, you can boast about house-made menu offerings that your competitors might not have.  Here are a few ingredients that are worth creating on your own:

Pickles – Pickles are a staple next to burgers, sandwiches, wraps and more. House-made pickles can add a unique flavor to your menu that store-bought pickles just can’t. Plus, pickles are inexpensive to make on your own – all you need is a few basic ingredients and pint jars to store them in.

Condiments – Diners are used to seeing jars of ketchup and mustard on the table when they sit down. What if you provided home-made condiments for them to enjoy? Experiment with making your own mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard or barbecue sauce to provide flavor that doesn’t come from the bottle. It’s a small touch that will separate you from the competition.

Cheese – From putting it on cheeseburgers to offering it as part of an appetizer, there’s a lot you can do with freshly made cheese. While more advanced cheeses take some time to learn and go through an aging process, options like ricotta and queso fresco are relatively simple. If house-made cheese is a hit with diners, consider packaging it to sell on its own in your restaurant.

Diners can get ketchup from a bottle or pickles from the jar at home. But when they step into your restaurant where you offer these house-made menu items, you create a memorable dining experience that goes a long way in fostering customer loyalty. Diners may come for the delicious entrees, but the house-made cheese might be what keeps them coming back for more.

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