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alum = aluminum potassium sulfate = ammonium aluminum sulphate = potassium aluminum phosphate   Notes:   Pickling recipes sometimes call for alum to give pickles extra crunch.   Substitutes:  If using alum to firm pickles, consider omitting. For more information, see the Alum page of the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service. OR grape leaves (for making pickles)

aluminum potassium sulfate

ammonium aluminum sulphate

bird's nest = dragon's teeth  Shopping hints:  Available at some Chinese markets. The white nests are cleaner and more expensive than the black ones.  


calcium hydroxide

cream of tartar = potassium acid tartrate = potassium bitartrate   Substitutes:  lemon juice (use 3 times as much) OR vinegar (use 3 times as much)

dragon's teeth

pre-gel starch  Substitutes:  xanthum gum OR guar gum

guar gum   Notes:   This thickener is very popular among people with gluten allergies.  Look for it in health food stores.   Substitutes:  xanthan gum ( Substitute an equal amount of xanthan gum for guar gum. Xanthan gum is more expensive, but interchangeable with guar gum.) OR pre-gel starch

xanthan = xanthan gum    Pronunciation:   ZAN-thun  Notes:   Derived from corn sugar, xanthan gum is used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier.  Substitutes:  guar gum OR pre-gel starch


food coloring


gypsum powder  Notes:  Recipes for ale and mead often call for this.

kampyo = kanpyo = dried gourd strips  Pronunciation:  KAHM-pyoh  Notes:   Japanese cooks soak these gourd strips in water, then use them to tie sushi or other food packets.  They're also sometimes cooked and used as an ingredient in sushi. Look for them in Japanese markets.   

lecithin  Notes:  Derived from soy beans or egg yolks, nutrient-rich lecithin is a wonder ingredient. It's used in cooking as an emulsifier, preservative, lubricant, and moisturizer. It's a healthful substitute for fat in baked goods, adding moisture and improving texture. Bakers use it as a dough enhancer because it helps give yeast breads more of a rise.   It comes either granulated or as a liquid.  Substitutes:  vegetable oil (In bread recipes, substitute this for lecithin measure for measure.)

malt powder = malt flour   Notes:   You can make malt powder by allowing whole grains to sprout briefly, drying them, and then grinding them into a powder.  Commercial malt powders are usually made with barley, and they're used extensively by commercial bakers.  There are two main types of malt powder:  diastatic and non-diastatic.  Diastatic malt contains active enzymes which help break starch down into sugar.  The extra sugar feeds the yeast in the dough, helping the bread to rise, and also gives the bread a browner crust.  It's often used to make crusty breads.  Non-diastatic malt doesn't have active enzymes, but it gives baked goods better flavor and a shinier, browner crust. It's used in everything from bagels to croissants to breakfast cereals.  Don't confuse malt powder with malted milk powder, which also contains powdered milk and wheat flour and is used to make beverages.   Look for malt powder in health food stores or baking supply stores.  


mastic gum = mustikah = mistika  = mustic gum   Notes:   It's usually sold in the form of small crystals, which you'll need to grind into a powder.  Look for it in Middle Eastern markets.

meat tenderizer  Substitutes:  Puree pulp from papaya or kiwi fruit and spread it on meat that has been pricked with a fork.  Allow it to permeate the meat for at least half and hour before cooking.

monosodium glutamate = MSG    Substitutes:  kelp OR omit from recipe


potassium acid tartrate

potassium aluminum

potassium bitartrate


rennet  (1 tablet = 1 tablespoon liquid)  Substitutes:  vegetable rennet

sake lees = kasu = sakekasu  Notes:   This is what's left over after sake has been pressed from the fermented rice mash.  The Japanese marinate fish and meats in it to improve flavor and texture.  It's available either in doughy sheets, or as a thick mush.  Substitutes:   sake

saltpeter = potassium nitrate = saltpetre = potassium salt   Notes:  This is sometimes used in curing rubs for meats.  Look for it in drug stores.

slaked lime = cal = calcium hydroxide = hydrated lime = lime hydrate    Notes:  Don't cook with the slaked lime found in hardware stores.


soft water  Substitutes:  distilled water OR boil hard water for 15 minutes, then let stand for a day so that minerals can settle on the bottom OR hard water (Warning: hard water can darken and soften pickles) 

sour salt 

stevia extract  Notes:  This has been touted has a healthful alternative to non-nutritive artificial sweeteners.  It's quite sweet, but has a bitter aftertaste.  Look for it in health food stores.  Substitutes:  sugar OR artificial sweeteners

vegetable rennet = rennin  Substitutes:  rennet (made with animal by-products)

vegetable yeast extract  Includes:  Marmite, Vegemite, and Promite

vesiga = sturgeon spine marrow  Substitutes:  bean threads (From a suggestion in Paula Wolfert's World of Food. See my sources.)

vitamin C

whipped cream stabilizer   Notes:  Two brands are Whip It and Whipping Cream Aid.   Substitutes: unflavored gelatin 

wine ball = wine yeast = wine cube

yam cake = konnyaku = ita konnyaku  Notes:  These bland gelatinous cakes are made from devil's root.  They're popular in Japan since they're low in calories, and eating them helps suppress the appetite.  Look for black or white yam cakes at Japanese markets.  Substitutes:  shirataki (Same thing, only in the form of noodles.) 


Copyright 1996-2003  Lori Alden