NutriPro More plants on Plate – Cooking without animal-based ingredients

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Milk, eggs, and other animal-based ingredients often perform functional roles in cooking, so it can be a challenge to replace them.

Finding a suitable alternative depends on their role in the original recipe. While substitution is an experimental process, the following tips and tricks are a good place to start.

Egg substitutes
Eggs may serve more than one purpose in a recipe. To choose an appropriate replacement, consider their function in your dish.

  • Coagulation/Gelation: In a custard or flan recipe, uses one egg to set 250 mL of full-cream milk with 25 g of added sugar. To replace the egg, substitute a combination of 3-4 g (1 tsp) corn starch + 0.5 g gum (can be adjusted). If you are also replacing the milk with a plant-based alternative, add a pinch of salt to set the gel.
  • Emulsification: To replace eggs in salad dressings and mayonnaise substitute 5 g (1 tsp) lecithin + 0.5 g gum for one egg yolk. In sweet batters, combine thick fruit purées (like apple or banana) with the lecithin and gum to emulsify and add body to the recipe.
  • Foaming: When making mousses and terrines, replace egg whites with whippable non-dairy creams especially formulated for this purpose. In baked goods, you can replace eggs by increasing the amount of baking powder/ baking soda.
  • Colour: Use a pinch of turmeric to add a light golden touch.
  • Texture: To bind savoury dishes without eggs, try adding mashed potatoes, rice flour, or wheat or corn starch to thicken the recipe. In cake batters, mashed banana, apple puree, and a pinch of gum or corn starch will give a nice thick texture to the batter.
  • Taste: Eggs add a richness to the flavor of baked goods, desserts, sauces, and dressings. Add a teaspoon of nut, sunflower, or olive oil to compensate for every egg removed in these recipes.

Milk substitute
Like eggs, milk has several functions in food, so there are no universally fail-proof substitutes.

  • Liquids: In beverages and pourable applications (like dressings and sauces), you can typically use a 1:1 substitution with plant-based dairy alternatives, vegetable broths, fruit juices, or water, depending on the recipe.
  • Other dishes: In more complex recipes, milk’s protein, fats, carbohydrates, salts, and minerals may affect the dish’s functionality. Several plant-based dairy alternatives for milk, cream, and yogurt, each with its own formulation and functionality, are commercially available, but finding the most suitable replacement for each recipe involves trial and error.

Gelatin substitutes
Bovine gelatin is used to set gels, moulded desserts, and candies, and sometimes to add a transparent coating or glaze to appetizers or fruit desserts. To replicate its setting ability, substitute the same amount of powdered agar (derived from seaweed) or carrageenan. Approximately 2 g of agar will set 250 mL of liquid. Alternatively, gums (from guar, xanthan, or locust bean) can also be used. One gram of gum will provide the same functionality as 3 g of gelatin or 2 g of agar.

Honey substitutes
Honey’s primary function is to add sweetness or flavour to recipes. You can substitute maple syrup, agave syrup, or brown sugar in a 1:1 ratio to provide sweetness.