Knowing Your Ingredients
In the way back machine, it seems like there were two kinds of households in America. Those who used Betty Crocker cookbooks in their iconic red check binder, and those who used The Joy of Cooking in the blue cover with stripes. Both had certain strengths, but Joy in particular offered a ‘Know Your Ingredients’ section. See some of our favorite cookbooks here.
What is a cook to do if you have no baking powder, or bittersweet chocolate? Those questions were answered along with how to dress a squirrel for cooking, how to lard a roast and more notable details like where on the animal cuts of beef or pork originated. In short, it was encyclopedic about the depth and breadth of information it offered.
It is really easy to start a recipe and hit one relatively little ingredient that you are lacking, which is also crucial to the recipe. We’ve accumulated the most common missing ingredients we’ve encountered while in the kitchen, along with the easiest substitution. Our goal is that the substituted item is something that you are likely to have on hand. While we aren’t offering the entire encyclopedia these snippets will keep you cooking.
Some things are not exactly a straight line substitution bringing all the exact same properties. Take for example ½ cup cooking oil for baking listed below. Typically it is a moistening agent in quick breads or such. Applesauce, the recommended substitution, will accomplish the goal of holding moisture. You need to fill in the blank with some common sense and compensate by oiling the pan for example to avoid sticking.
Common Kitchen Substitution Chart
|Baking powder||1 teaspoon||¾ teaspoon baking soda plus ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar|
|Baking soda||1 teaspoon||3 teaspoons baking powder, or 1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate and ¼ teaspoon salt.|
|Brown sugar||1 cup||Use one cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon of molasses|
|Butter, salted||1 cup||1 cup shortening plus ½ teaspoon salt, or ⅞ cup vegetable oil plus ½ teaspoon salt|
|Buttermilk or sour milk||1 cup||1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup, let rest for 10 minutes|
|Chocolate, unsweetened||1 ounce||3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter|
|Cream, heavy||1 cup for recipes not whipping||¾ cup milk plus ⅓ cup melted butter|
|Cream, light||1 cup||⅞ cup milk plus 3 tablespoons melted butter|
|Cream, sour||1 cup||⅞ cup plain yogurt plus 3 tablespoons melted butter|
|Egg||1 whole medium||3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon water for baking, or 3 tablespoons mayonnaise for cakes.|
|Flour, self-rising||1 cup||1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt|
|Flour, as a thickener||1 tablespoon||1 teaspoon either corn starch or arrowroot powder|
|Herbs, dried||½ to 1 teaspoon||1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs|
|Honey||1 cup||1¼ cups sugar plus ½ cup liquid called for in recipe like milk or water, or 1 cup real maple syrup|
|Lemon juice||1 teaspoon||¾ teaspoon white vinegar|
|Lemon rind, grated||1 teaspoon||½ teaspoon real lemon extract|
|Mayonnaise||1 cup||1 cup sour cream or 1 cup pureed cottage cheese|
|Milk, whole||1 cup||¾ cup 2% milk plus ¼ cup half and half|
|Molasses||1 cup||1 cup dark corn syrup or B grade honey|
|Mustard, dry||1 teaspoon||1 tablespoon prepared mustard, subtract 1½ teaspoon liquid from the recipe|
|Oil, for baking||½ cup||½ cup of applesauce to keep baked goods moist|
|Sugar, granulated||1 cup||1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar. This will make baked goods less crisp.|
|Sweetened condensed milk||1 can (14 oz.)||1 cup evaporated milk plus 1¼ cup granulated sugar. If not a cooked recipe, heat the milk and dissolve the sugar|
|Vanilla bean||1-inch bean||1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or substitute whiskey or rum, using twice the amount of vanilla as called for in the recipe.|
|Vinegar||1 teaspoon||1 teaspoon lemon juice, or 2 teaspoons white wine|
|Vinegar, balsamic||1 tablespoon||1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar|
|Wine||1 cup||1 cup fruit juice mixed and 2 teaspoons vinegar|
In the arena of substituting comes the idea of measuring and sometimes multiplying recipes. These are by volume measurements, not by weight. If a recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons, you’re cooking for a crowd and will multiply by a factor of four do you really want to measure out 12 Tablespoons? Or is it easier knowing that a Tablespoon is ½ ounce, which means you need 6 ounces for this example, or ¾ of a cup.
And don’t even get us started about teaspoons. Okay fine, we’re started. The old timey call was 2 teaspoons plus a scant teaspoon equals one Tablespoon. Scant meaning like 7/8 or thereabout. Modern conversion is straight line 3:1 teaspoons to Tablespoons.
Measuring Equivalent Chart
|3 teaspoons||= 1 Tablespoon|
|1 Tablespoon||= ½ ounce|
|2 Tablespoons||= 1 ounce||=1/8 cup|
|16 Tablespoons||= 8 ounces||=1 cup|
|2 cups||= 16 ounces||= 1 pint|
|2 pints||= 32 ounces||= 1 quart|
|2 quarts||= 64 ounces||= ½ gallon|
|8 pints||= 128 ounces||= 4 quarts||= 1 gallon|