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

Asparagus a great perennial garden crop

Asparagus ( Asparagus aficinalis L.), Perennial, #perennial, Perennial Gardening,
Asparagus

Asparagus (Asparagus aficinalis L.) is one of the great perennial garden crops. Originally, from Western Europe, Eastern Asia and throughout Africa this crop is favored by many. If properly planted and cared for, asparagus can last 25 to 30 years and garden.  So, well care for Asparagus beds can be a lifetime investment with a high-value return. Asparagus has been part of the human diet at least since ancient Greek times which is where the word comes from. The American colonists brought asparagus over with them when they landed and it has been a consistent part of the American diet ever since.

Asparagus is prized by many

Asparagus is prized by many and can be found in nearly any grocery section at your local department store sometimes but very interesting prices. With just a little bit of work, and the asparagus bed can provide for your families table 4 years. So, if you’re looking for a high-value low maintenance long-lasting perennial vegetable to put in your vegetable garden asparagus is one of your friends.

Planting Asparagus

General Guidance For Planting Asparagus

Despite the often touted guidance of deep digging to plant asparagus, asparagus likes to grow approximately 4 inches below the soil surface. So normal cultivation to create your asparagus bed will work just fine. However, when you start your bed, you should mark your bed boundaries and place it in a location that you can live with for the next couple of decades. As far as soil preparation goes, the soil should be well cultivated have plenty of humus and rich manure and compost. It helps some if the soil has a slightly sandy character is not overly compact. As usual, I recommend drip irrigation and plenty of good well-aged garden mulch. The site of your asparagus bed should be a well-drained and sunny location.

Starting From Asparagus Seed

If planting seed, start transplants about 80 days before last spring frost. Sow 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in a sterile growing medium, water and keep temperature 65 to 80 degrees. Germination can take up to 21 days. Transplant to a well prepared, fertilized bed after danger of frost, deeply dug with lots of organic matter. Set plants 12 inches apart in a 6 inches trench, 2 inches deep. Fill in the trench as asparagus grows. Begin harvest in 3 to 4 years.

Starting From Asparagus Root

If Planting Roots. Planting roots reduce harvest by at least 1 to 2 years. Plant roots shortly after receiving them in a well prepared, deeply cultivated, fertilized, garden bed with plenty of organic matter. Asparagus Prefers light, loose soil. Set roots in trenched rows 12 inches apart, in rows 3 to 5 feet apart. The trench should be 4 inches deep. Cover roots with 2 inches of soil. Backfill the trench as asparagus grows. Keep moist. Fertilize again next spring. Begin harvesting in 2 to 3 years.

When to Plant Asparagus

Asparagus roots can be planted in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked in your area.  Dig a trench 4 to 5 inches deep and space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart in the row. Then cover with a good mix of your local soil, compost, and manure. If you go easy on it, a little bit of slow release fertilizer won’t hurt.  If more than one row is planted, space the rows 4 to 5 feet apart. This wide spacing is necessary because of the vigor of the fern growth during the first season and promotes rapid drying of the fern in the fall to prevent disease problems.

How much Asparagus to Plant

You will need 8 to 10 plants per person.

Care and Maintenance of Asparagus

Asparagus requires little care once it is established. The biggest problem faced by gardeners is weed control. A weed control program should be started early. Weeds can be kept under control by carefully hoeing, cultivating, or using a rototiller. Cultivation deeper than 2 or 3 inches can damage the roots.  Also, the use of a nice deep layer of mulch between rows can aid significantly with the reduction of weeds in your asparagus patch.  In the spring when the spears begin to appear, a nice fresh layer of compost mix with a slow release balanced fertilizer is very beneficial. Also after applying the fertilizer, a new layer of protective garden mulch should be applied. Stop harvesting when about 3/4 of the spears are about the diameter of a pencil. These should be left to replenish the food supplies to the roots.  Because the tops of asparagus plants produce and transfer food to the roots, they should be allowed to grow all summer. The tops can be removed when they die after a killing frost in the fall.

Harvesting Asparagus

During the first year after planting, you should be able to harvest several times,  depending on temperatures. There is no need to wait until two years after planting before you harvest. In fact, harvesting the first year after planting will stimulate more buds to be produced on the crown which means greater yields in later years. Spears can be harvested for a period of 2 to 3 weeks the first year. In succeeding years, the length of harvest increases to about 4 to 6 weeks, or for as long as the spears are large.

Select spears that are 6 to 8 inches tall with light tips. As the tips begin to loosen, known as “ferning out”, the base of the spears will begin to get tough. Stop harvesting when about 3/4 of the spears are about the diameter of a pencil. These should be left to replenish the food supplies to the roots.

Asparagus is harvested by cutting them off with a sharp, well sanitized, knife just below the ground. Care should be taken not to damage other nearby spears just below the surface. Asparagus should be used as soon as it is harvested, but it will remain fairly fresh for up to a week if kept at 35 degrees to 38 degrees Fahrenheit with the cut ends in water.

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.

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