Why use applesauce as an oil substitute in baking?

Applesauce
Applesauce

There are three reasons that I use unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for oil in my baking, especially, almost homemade recipes. The reasons are nutrition, texture, and flavor.  Applesauce, in my opinion, adds a lot of character to your baking, especially, in cakes and bread without all the added calories and oil fats.

Another good reason to consider applesauce an oil substitute is the simple fact that you can grow apples in your backyard, garden, and/or orchard.   Healthy applesauce is easy enough to make at home and, if you happen to have enough apples in your backyard, you can make a large quantity, which when canned stores for years.  So, from an Eco-friendly point of view, you don’t need to pay to have large corporations process the oil and shipment it from around the world to get it to your local grocer.

Simply stated even a good olive oil has little in it be on calories fat and some vitamin E.  While it is true, depending on what oil you cook with, your oil may contain some omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the quantity is so small when compared to the calorie and fat ratio, as not to make it worth adding it into your baking for that purpose alone.

Applesauce, on the other hand, has no fat, add dietary fiber, natural carbohydrates, and sugars; not to mention more flavor.  Oil in cooking is one of American cooking’s most overused ingredients.  It’s used in baking, mostly, to make foods moist.

The table below does a brief comparison of a 1/4 ounce serving of both applesauce and oil:

Nutrition FactsOlive OilApplesauce
Calories48050
Total Fat56g0
Cholesterol00
Sodium025mg
Total carbs012g
Protein00
Vitamin E15%0
Dietary fiber02
Sugar08g

Related References

Celery Alternatives You Can Grow In Your Garden

Celery in the Home Garden

Most home gardeners don’t bother to grow celery and there is good reason for that.  Celery is a, Biennial grown as an annual, long-season crop, which originates from wetlands and, therefore, requires cool, rich, damp soils to grow is finicky and difficult to grow.

Considering this, a small list of alternative which can be grown in the garden with generally less difficulty may be useful. Especially, if you don’t want to completely depend on the grocer.  Here are few alternatives to true celery, which can be used as celery replacement with some accommodation for your families’ tastes and the dish in which they are used.

Angelica (Anglica archangellica)
Angelica (Anglica archangellica)

Angelica (Anglica archangellica)

Angelica (Anglica archangellica) (Hardiness Zone 4 through 9)

Angelica is a biennial (6 to 8 ft tall) plant, whose the second-year stems can be used like celery.  The stems are slightly sweet and can be used as a side dish or in soups and stews.

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)
Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) (Hardiness Zone 5 through 9)

Cardoon is a perennial (4 to 6 ft tall) plant, whose young chopped leaf stocks may be used like celery in soups, and stews.

Fennel (F. vulgare dulce)
Fennel (F. vulgare dulce)

Fennel

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (Hardiness Zone 5 through 9)

Common Fennel is a perennial (3 to 5 ft tall) plant, whose young stems may be used like celery.  The Florence Fennel bulb is, also, popular as a vegetable for salads and soups.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)

Lovage (Levisticum officinale)

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) (Hardiness Zone 3 through 8)

Lovage is a perennial (3 to 9 ft tall) plant, which vaguely resembles its cousin celery in appearance and in flavor.  Lovage is much easier to grow than celery and is every bit as tasty.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) (Hardiness Zone 3 through 8)

Now, Rhubarb (sometimes called the” pie plant”) may not be an obvious choice, the the stocks early in the season, with their tart character, can make an excellent replacement for Celery in strongly sauced dishes.  Especially, dishes, which use a sauce with a sweet undertone or which are after the contrasting flavors of sweet and tart.

Related References

What Are Hardiness Zones?

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, What Are Hardiness Zones
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The Plant Hardiness Zones are defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA map, which map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperatures, and is the generally accepted standard in the United States by gardeners, farmers, growers and sales of seeds and plants can determine which plants are most likely survive and be productive in an area.

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Hardiness Zone Map

Specific details regarding the map can be obtained on the USDA site at:

  • Find Your Plant Hardiness Zone

Climatic Considerations for Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Climatic Considerations for Winter Squash and Pumpkins, c. pepo, c. maxima, c. moschata, C. argyrosperma, C. mixta
Pumpkins Outdoors in Fall

Squash is a warm-season crop. It should not be planted until the danger of frost is past. In the list below, note the species from which each variety has been selected. Some do better in certain climates and have different growing season lengths.

  • C. argyrosperma and C. mixta grow best in hot arid climates like the Southwest United States
  • C. maxima grow best in cooler northern climates, especially along coastal areas of large lakes or oceans where the growing temperature may be more consistent
  • C. moschata are best grown in southern humid climates
  • C. pepo does best in areas in climates which provide even rainfalls and temperature ranges, such as, coastal regions and the midwestern United States.

Related References

Cool Storage of Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Cool Storage of Winter Squash and Pumpkins
Winter Squash on a shelf

Cool Storage

Perhaps, the better and most cost-effective way to keep winter squash and pumpkins is cool storage.  For cool storage to be effective the fruit must be consistently stored above freezing and the germination temperature.  Please note, Not all squash store equally well.  With that said, I have stored some varieties a winter squash so long that we have had to eat them just to make room for the New Year’s harvest.

For best results:

  • cure in warm area squash or pumpkins for a week to 10 days,
  • clean off dirt with a damp soft cloth,
  • with a second clean soft cloth wash with 1 cup vinegar to one gallon of water, and allow the skin to dry completely before storage.
  • Store in a cool (40-550 F), dry place to prevent shrivel, lose weight, and to postpone spoilage as long as possible.
  • Position the fruit so that the fruit is not touching one another and so that air can flow freely around the fruit.
  • I recommend placing as many of the fruit where they can be easily seen, for easy inspection for signs for an impending loss. The sweetness and quality of squash or pumpkins often improve, if cured for 2 to 4 weeks, or more in storage.

Where to Store Squash and Pumpkins

where to store your squash is a little less important provided the required temperatures can be maintained. Some of the more common places are root cellars, pantries, basements. Just about any place with a cool constant temperature within the ranges required will do. However, it’s best if it’s a place that’s convenient and semi-protected. You don’t want your squash to be damaged by kids playing or by having to crawl over them to get to something important which might beast stored above are behind them. Perhaps, my favorite throughout the years has been the root cellar I grew up with them in Oregon and I’ve long appreciated their value for storing vegetables of all types including winter squash for long periods of time to do the harshest weather during winter. I have, in places like Virginia and Minnesota, used the basement of the home in which I lived. Pantries can be a little more problematic for a couple of reasons. First, having sufficient space to store all the pumpkins and squash growing volumes at my gardens produce. Second, my pantries are usually attached to the house and tend not to read to retain a constant cool temperature.

Is your storage location too warm?

The best way to tell if your storage location is too warm, other than a thermometer, is that when you break open the squash, if you see seeds that have sprouted, then your storage area is too warm the seeds are germinating.

What Are Perennial Foods?

Perennial Food, Perennial Food Gardening, edible landscapes
Perennial Food Gardening

Perennial foods, on the whole, are low maintenance sources of food once they’ve been established and their production can be improved with a little tender loving care. Many perennials will be in our backyard trees and/or are landscaping. Their form can be very ranging from bulbs, to berries, it’s to trees and bushes.  When thinking of perennial foods, we must keep an open mind. Many edible foods are ignored by commercial markets, even though, many if not all were eaten by media and/or ancient peoples throughout history.

Please keep in mind that what is a perennial in your area is dictated by your area USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and the hardiness range of the plant itself.

Here is a starter list, which I will update as I have more time.

  • Alliums

    • Bunching onions
    • Chinese leeks
    • Chives
    • Elephant Garlic
    • Egyptian Walking Onions
    • Common Garlic
    • Garlic Chives
    • Potato Onions
    • Shallot

    Berries

    • Cranberry
    • Grapes
    • Blackberry
    • Blueberry
    • Elderberry
    • Gooseberry
    • Huckleberry
    • Musk Strawberry
    • Raspberry
    • Salmonberry
    • Strawberry
    • Turkscap

     

    Bushes & Shrub

    • Autumn Olive
    • Blueberry
    • Cherry
    • Gooseberries
    • Lingonberry
    • Nanking Cherry
    • Sea Buckthorns

    Cactus

    • Prickly Pear Cactus

    Cereals

    • Perennial Buckwheat
    • Pearl Millet
    • Indian Ricegrass

    Herbs

    • Angelica
    • Anise Hyssop
    • Balm (Lemon Balm)
    • Basil (Holy Basil, African Blue)
    • Bunching onions
    • Burnet
    • Chicory
    • Common Oregano ( aka wild marjoram)
    • Egyptian Walking Onions
    • French Tarragon
    • Ginger
    • Horseradish
    • Lavender
    • Lovage
    • Marsh Mello
    • Mexican Oregano
    • Mint
    • Parsley
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Sorrel
    • Tarragon
    • Thyme
    • Winter Savory
    • Yarrow

    Edible Flowers

    • Bee Balm
    • Elderberry Flower
    • Hibiscus
    • Mint
    • Purple Coneflower
    • Rose Hips and Flowers
    • Saffron Crocus
    • Turkscap

    Fruit Trees

    • Apricot
    • Apple
    • Mulberry
    • Cherry
    • Fig
    • Loquat
    • Nectarine
    • Pawpaw
    • Peach
    • Pear (Asian)
    • Pear (European)
    • Persimmon
    • Plum
    • Pomegranate
    • Quince
    • Sour Cherry

    Grasses

    • Bamboo
    • lemongrass

    Legumes

    • Kudzu Bean
    • Winged Bean
    • Honey locust Tree
    • Mesquite Tree
    • Pigeon Pea
    • Scarlet Runner

    Nut Trees

    • Almond
    • Black Walnut
    • English Walnut
    • Hazelnut
    • Pecan

    Vegetables and Greens

    • Angelica
    • Artichoke
    • Asparagus
    • Cardoon
    • Fennel
    • Rhubarb
    • Seakale

    Vines

    • Chayote (Squash)
    • Common Grape (European)
    • Fox Grape
    • Muscadine Grape

Many perennial Forage Foods sources are available, also.

Related Topics:

How to Purchase Winter Squash and Pumpkins from Local Markets

Winter Squash In the Market
Winter Squash In the Market

Now, that I’m seeing fall selection winter squash and pumpkins available in the markets, I thought it might be a good time to provide some guidance on how to select the best of them for storage or dining. This time of year the varieties available balloons and is it an opportunity to try some varieties, which are not normally readily available.

Look For:

  • Full maturity, indicated by a hard, tough rind. Also, look for squash that is heavy for its size (meaning a thick wall and more edible flesh). Slight variations in skin color do not affect flavor.
  • That the stem is still attached to the fruit.

Avoid:

  • Fruit with cuts, punctures, and sunken spots and/or other damage.
  • Moldy spots on the rind and/or stem; this is an indication of decay.
  • Tender rind (outer shell), this indicates immaturity, which is a sign of poor eating quality in winter squash varieties.
  • Decorative varieties with poor quality flesh (e.g. Turk’s Turban) and/or completion varieties (usually, the very largest squash, but not always)