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gardener
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Online you can find equivalents for sugar substitution to honey and such,  but what about spinach if that's our of season? or a substitution for pumpkin? Etc. Know done equivalents in recipes that you use? Please share.

I know spinach can usually be substituted by Malabar spinach and new Zealand spinach,  but what about lamb's quarter? What about Orach?

I think pumpkin can usually be substituted for sweet potato, butternut squash,  or  most of the other low fiber squashes. 

 
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Check out Ruhlman's nice book that suggests various substitutes.
 
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Lambsquarters is a lovely substitute for spinach.  When I lived in Wisconsin, it came up so reliably, and in such numbers, that I stopped planting spinach and just harvested baby lambsquarters. 

I would pull the leaves from the stems, blanch and freeze, just like spinach.  Then I'd use them in omelettes for most of the year. I actually like lambsquarters more than spinach.

Now that I live in Portland, I'm surprised how seldom I see this "weed."  I had one show up in my back yard, where we had broken up the turf, and I let it grow 6' tall to try to get some seed.  I then collected and scattered that seed all over my garden beds, but no luck.    No baby lambsquarters, although I got creeping Charlie for miles.

Another sub for spinach can be nettles, these are super nutritious, but the texture is a little coarse.

For most substitutions, you just need to try it.  I think you're right about pumpkin and squash and sweet potato.  They all make fine pie.

"Ratio" is a fine book.  It's also a smartphone app, FYI.
 
pioneer
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It might depend on what you are making;

For a salad these might be substituted for spinach:  Lettuce, Cabbage, Arugula, Swiss Chard

When cooking: Kale; Collard, Turnip or /Mustard greens; Swiss Chard; Cabbage; and/or Bok Choy.


For the Onion Family: Onions, Garlic, Scallions or Shallots.


Most dry beans can be substituted for each other; same with peas



Spice Equivalents:




 
Amit Enventres
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Excellent.

Does that Ratios book mostly focus on baking or does it cover other aspects of cooking?

To add to the herbal list:
I substitute bay leaves with tarragon. If I'm really out of tarragon, I'll put a little rosemary or thyme.

Any alternatives to cocoa powder for northern climates? What about coffee?
 
pusang halaw
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Amit Enventres wrote:Does that Ratios book mostly focus on baking or does it cover other aspects of cooking?

Mostly baking. Still worth owning a copy - I just read a borrowed one.

I hardly use dry herbs but one thing I observed with fresh herbs: once cooked beyond 5 minutes (specially above 100F), most members of the mint family (Lamiaceae) begin losing unique flavors and start tasting similar (specially in 'dry rubs' for roasts). Basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and perilla are all good substitutes for each other (though some are stronger in character than the rest). If you want to keep the flavors vibrant and distinct, add said herbs right before serving.
 
Amit Enventres
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So true- a lot of equivalents are based on what you are doing with them.  Though I don't think I've ever substituted lavender for any of the "Italian herbs".

So, in baking wise,  sometimes veggies can substitute for flour... right? Does "Ratio" cover this topic?
 
pusang halaw
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Amit Enventres wrote: Though I don't think I've ever substituted lavender for any of the "Italian herbs"... So, in baking wise,  sometimes veggies can substitute for flour... right? Does "Ratio" cover this topic?

good catch on the lavender as that would never work - poor copy/paste job on my part when I copied members of the mint family.

I only had the book overnight so I need to borrow it again as I don't recall. From personal experience: mashed potato is good in lightening heavy batter for some baked goods - donuts being the usual suspect (though it's not often baked). Pureed yams and legumes are often used instead of flour in many oriental desserts (moon cakes) and some middle eastern pastry. Most important is to have the presence of mind to be adventurous and get a familiarity using substitutes. Often when I look into my pantry, I see the same old stuff and keep making the same old tired recipes - best to make a reminder to oneself: next time I make so and so, I'll use so and so instead.

If you like middle eastern food, here's a shopping video that had my mind floating with lots of substitution ideas (the host is cute as a button too):
 
Amit Enventres
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I love middle eastern cuisine! I especially love how much of it doesn't have to be refrigerated at all.  It is typically dried or pickled ingredients that come together for something mouth watering, from my experience. And usually lighter feeling than many other cuisines I cook.

Speaking of which,  I have a friend who makes excellent stuffed grape leaves with quinoa instead of rice.  I wonder if the same substitution could be made Werth sushi? Certainly other grain substitutions would also work.  I wonder which....
 
pusang halaw
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Amit Enventres wrote:I wonder if the same substitution could be made Werth sushi? Certainly other grain substitutions would also work.  I wonder which....

Dolma recipes are more forgiving and more open to interpretation but I'm not sure one should alter the flavor profile too much (keep it Mediterranean). Sushi is a much loved food so I'm sure cooks have taken creative license with their own versions but risk heated semantic arguments. Sushi is like pizza - margarita versus chicago and grocery california rolls versus Jiro Dreams... I always side with the purists. I think we could make things with substitutes based on traditional recipes but should give them different names.

I make rolls inspired by Japanese sushi, Chinese spring and Vietnamese gỏi cuốn. Usually I use canned sweet corn (lightly processed) in place of rice and lettuce in place of nori or rice paper but lightly steamed cabbage, bok choy and mustard greens works too. And I shamefully use faux crab and other kamaboko as protein but charcuterie is good too (good quality ham in particular). I also roll finely julienned carrots, celery, bell peppers and various fruit like apples and pears along with vermicelli and good quality Spanish sardines and fresh bean sprouts - not sure if they'll like it in Hanoi but those who tried it always were pleased.
 
pioneer
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Amit Enventres wrote:Online you can find equivalents for sugar substitution to honey and such,  but what about spinach if that's our of season? or a substitution for pumpkin? Etc. Know done equivalents in recipes that you use? Please share.

I know spinach can usually be substituted by Malabar spinach and new Zealand spinach,  but what about lamb's quarter? What about Orach?

I think pumpkin can usually be substituted for sweet potato, butternut squash,  or  most of the other low fiber squashes. 



If you're cooking sweet things, you can also try substituting the sweet potato/pumpkin with banana....or banana in recipes with sweet potato. Gives a very different flavor, but seems to have similar cooking properties. Since my husband eats a starch-less diet, a lot of recipes I use call for banana or pumpkin/squash (pancakes made with just banana and egg, muffins made with pumpkin, etc).

Other substitutes of spinach are beet greens--I find them even yummier. My sister-in-law uses sorrel as a perennial spinach, but it's more sour in flavor. The Red Sorrel is less sour, I think, though.
 
Amit Enventres
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I tried beet green quiche on my family and because the stems bled red it was rejected. Something about how the cheese mixed with the red to give an unclean bathroom pink color threw them off.  The added sweet compounded the problem.  I can still sneak beet greens into other dishes and maybe if I removed the veins and gave them a good squeeze I'd have better luck on that one.
 
Anne Miller
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This is neat:


 
Amit Enventres
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Interesting chart.

I can say that from my experience in baking I'd never substitute more than half the oil with applesauce because then it gets dry and cakey, which is especially annoying in cookies. 

I do substitute some sugar with cinnamon successfully, but I found out that when I would bring my low sugar desserts to potlucks, where they were placed next to regular desserts, the lack of sweetness could be noted. But they still disappeared into belies all the same.

I wonder if pumpkin or squash puree could add the same smoothness to smoothies we all love?

I've used pumpkin puree with cinnamon, a little powdered sugar, oil, and cocoa to make a very delicious frosting.  Could banana be mashed into frosting or would it oxidize too fast? This is a problem with substituting avocado into recipes.

Could dry chickpeas be substituted with dry snap peas?

Lentils and split peas are almost ther same in my brain.

Flour wise,  I know certain recipes rely on wheat's gluten to do certain things, so if you substitute the wheat, you may have to add egg and baking soda/powder.

Also, certain properties of sugar are why is added to dishes, not just for sweetness, so like in icecream, it adds smoothness so if you remove it, you have to compensate or the dish suffers.
 
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My current favorite substitution is rhubarb juice for lemon juice.   Here in Alaska, abundant rhubarb harvests are easy to come by.  Put the stems in a blender and then pour and squeeze through a cheesecloth, cooked or uncooked and you have rhubarb juice.  Its delicious as a drink and in my opinion a great and even better tasting replacement for lemon juice.  My wife and I made pad thai the other night and substituted rhubarb juice and prune puree for tamarind paste.  Rhubarb juice can be poured on salad or pasta, or pad thai, anywhere a bit of sour zing is desirable.  And I believe the nutrition is even better than for lemons.  The sour taste of rhubarb stem comes from malic acid; the oxalic acid content of rhubarb stems is less than that of spinach; its totally safe to consume a lot.

 
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I almost always sub out milk in favor of water. I used to use nut milks instead of dairy, but they can add an unwanted flavor to some recipies. I've been using water for years now for all kinds of cooking and baking, and have been wondering why recipies call for milk at all. My theory is back in the day, people just needed ways to use up milk before it went bad. Or maybe it was for a nutrition boost?
 
Anne Miller
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I know that milk adds flavor to some gravies.  My favorite gravy is cream gravy like that served with Chicken Fried Steak or Sausage Gravy.  I use milk rather than cream.  It just would not taste right without the milk.
I agree that it is not always needed.

I know I have seen reason for using milk and I feel it is probably when baking:

Milk creates breads which are richer and have a more velvety texture.
Milk makes a softer crust that will brown more quickly due to the sugar and butterfat in milk.
Milk also improves the keeping quality of breads and contributes nutrients.
It used to be that scalding milk was necessary to kill bacteria that might affect the yeast activity and to alter a protein in the milk that played havoc with the gluten structure in bread. However, pasteurization has protected us from harmful bacteria and has altered the proteins, so scalding milk is no longer necessary.
If you are lactose intolerant you can substitute soymilk, or other milk substitutes,  but there will be a flavor and texture difference in your product.
Buttermilk, yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream are also used as part of the liquids in some breads.



http://redstaryeast.com/yeast-baking-lessons/common-baking-ingredients/liquids/
 
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Amit Enventres wrote:Online you can find equivalents for sugar substitution to honey and such,  but what about spinach if that's our of season? or a substitution for pumpkin? Etc. Know done equivalents in recipes that you use? Please share.

I know spinach can usually be substituted by Malabar spinach and new Zealand spinach,  but what about lamb's quarter? What about Orach?

I think pumpkin can usually be substituted for sweet potato, butternut squash,  or  most of the other low fiber squashes. 



This may avoid your question entirely, but I would suggest looking at it from a different angle.  Rather than asking "What can I substitute for spinach in a recipe when spinach is out of season?", ask "How can I use different greens when they are in season?"  Maybe there isn't an exact substitution, and maybe that's a good thing.  Rather than trying to take Food B and make it work as Food A, just play to the strengths of Food B.  Life's more exciting that way.

That said, there are of course a whole host of green leafy things available throughout the year--lettuce, dandelion, lambsquarters, orach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, beet greens, curly dock, tatsoi, and on and on--that could be used in similar recipes.  They won't perhaps give the exact same result (which is a good thing), but they ought not be too drastically different either.

As for pumpkins, if you choose the right variety they don't ever have to be "out of season."  We have kept Seminole pumpkins for well over a year at room temp, in an un-air-conditioned house in zone 6b.  I know there are plenty of other varieties with similar attributes.
 
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For dishes requiring milk or cream I sometimes use coconut milk as a substitute (due to family member allergies with milk).  The coconut flavor cooks out after a little while (maybe 10 minutes at a guess), leaving the creamy richness. 

This is also good for dieting.  If you are trying to gain weight, coconut milk is your friend (that was a joke, since in most of the west, being underweight isn't the usual problem).
 
Amit Enventres
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I used to be totally dairy free and found a great thickener for gravy to be flour added slowly so it won't clump. I also use it in my macaroni and cheese. I think corn starch may also work, but I am still just venturing into the joys of corn starch.

I have never tried nut milks or nut flours for thickeners or a milk substitute, mostly because of the expense and usefulness of nuts in so many other ways. Like ground walnuts or pecans make a stellar pie crust, better than cookie crumbs, in my opinion. Almond crumbs instead of bread crumbs, etc.

Sunchokes are supposed to be a good substitute for water chestnuts.

I came up with the idea of substitutions because there are so many basic categories of food dishes (garden salad,  cream of something soup, rice with veggies and protein,  etc.) And within those general categories there are so many things that could or could not go together. In permaculture we are around the world and food is seasonally based, which means the average cook book recipe needs adjusting, at least.  When I first started growing things, I realized if I didn't learn how to cook them, I'd have failed at being sustainable. I see that hurtle being stumbled on by so many well meaning people. I brought it up to a friend when I was learning and his response (after years of living and growing his own) was soup or stir fry. Let me make it clear: that doesn't work for every day for the rest of my life. So I binge watched Chopped for inspiration and studied cooking school videos. I burned lots and made lots of compost, but my average meal is now edible and varied, but it's still a journey and I still have lots to go. While I'm at it though, let's get rid of this hurdle of: "I grew 50lbs of zucchini and all I can think of is zucchini bread."
 
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