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Hungry Like the Wolf: Ingredient Substitutions

By Zubair Muhammad

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Do you ever find yourself in the middle of making a delicious recipe, then realize you don’t have that one specific ingredient?Instead of throwing away your whole dish, or having to run to the nearest Walmart, it’s much easier to find a substitute for the ingredient.

Although it’s a time and money saver, sometimes it’s better to just stick to the original ingredient. For example, some may say you can substitute light brown sugar with dark brown sugar. To start, any kind of brown sugar, whether it be light it dark, is simply just sugar mixed with molasses. Dark sugar has more molasses, so it’s stronger, while light brown has less. Because of this, both sugars will vary in taste.

Light brown sugar is sweet but not too strong and it’s perfect for cinnamon rolls or cookie dough. If you substitute it with dark brown sugar, which is used in gingerbread cookies, whatever you’re making will taste much more bitter.

Another example of when you should stick to the original product is when you need heavy whipping cream. Heavy cream has much more fat in it than regular milk, which is why it turns into fluffy, delicious whipped cream after you whip it. Sure, you could melt butter and add it to the milk as a substitute, which will give you the taste of heavy cream in a recipe, but it won’t physically have the right whipped cream texture after you whip it.

Aside from a few exceptions, however, substitutions are generally helpful and could save you last-minute. Here are the top five substitutions you should know about and keep at hand.

  1. Buttermilk- For every one cup of milk, add 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar, which will curdle the milk. For example, if you need 1/2 cup of buttermilk, add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice to 1/2 cup of regular milk.
  2. Cream of Tartar- One teaspoon baking powder is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  3. Allspice- One teaspoon of allspice can be substituted for 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves.
  4. Parsley- An equivalent amount of cilantro.
  5. Sherry or Red wine- Vegetable broth, cranberry juice, or half the amount of apple cider vinegar.

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