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Alternative Ingredients


You know how frustrating it is when the supermarket doesn't have just one ingredient you need for a recipe? Read Delia's advice and you will see that there are, sometimes, good alternatives.

Alternatives to lard, beef stock and gelatine

Vegetarians won’t want to use lard, beef stock or gelatine in recipes, as all are derived from beef. Instead of lard, you could use pure vegetable fat. As an alternative to beef stock, make Delia’s recipe for Vegetable Stock, adding a teaspoonful of yeast extract, such as Marmite for extra richness. Alternatively, Delia recommends making instant vegetable stock with Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder.

Remembering that gelatine substitutes may not give you the same setting qualities. Vegetarians can use Veg-E-Gel (made by Supercook) or agar agar instead of gelatine as a gelatine substitute – just make sure you read the instructions carefully, as it is used in a different way to ordinary gelatine and, as a result, the recipe method will have to be changed. In Delia’s Vegetarian Collection, the recipes have been tested using vegetarian gelatine substitutes.

Alternatives for crème fraîche and fromage frais

In a recent live chat, Delia explained, ‘Fromage frais is a dairy product with either 2 per cent fat or 8 per cent fat. So really it’s a low-fat alternative to cream.

Crème fraiche is a full cream that has had a small amount of culture injected into it to give it the flavour cream used to have before pasteurisation.’

Crème fraiche can be substituted by mixing equal quantities of liqhtly whipped double cream with Greek yoghurt (or another thick yoghurt), but if it’s being heated you have to be careful not to let it boil. Alternatively, add a drop or two of lemon juice to some lightly whipped cream, or mix equal quantities of lightly whipped cream with soured cream, then leave at room temperature for about eight hours before refrigerating.

Fromage frais is a term used to describe very young fresh cheese and the best substitute is quark. You could also blend equal parts of cottage cheese and yoghurt until smooth, or use Greek-style yoghurt. Do not heat these too much, though, or they will curdle.

Other alternative ingredients

In more general terms, the following gives an idea of substitutions, but it must be remembered that the dish may turn out differently than it would be using the ingredient stated by Delia.

Kaffir lime leaves


Self-raising flour

Pinto beans

Groundnut oil

Chickpea (gram) flour

 Pinhead oatmeal

 Shreds of lime zest

 Fresh root ginger 

Plain flour, with 1 teaspoon baking powder added for every 4 oz (110 g) flour

Borlotti beans

any flavourless oil, eg, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil

Wholemeal flour

Red River Cereal (mixture of wheat, rye and flax)

Looking for a specific ingredient? Try looking in these sections:

Where can I buy?
Suppliers and stockists
All about crème fraîche


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