So, here’s the rub. You want to be independent and stabilize your costs for vital supplies, but some supplies just don’t line up very well with your plans. They don’t tolerate storage conditions that you have available, or they don’t retain their taste, color, and nutrition or a myriad of other problems. I don’t know about you, but I use a lot of oil for cooking, frying, baking, etc. However, like you, the shelf-life issue has been a challenge for me as well. There’s nothing worse than making a great batch of some yummy baked goods, only to be confronted with an awful, rancid smell of the shortening. You can bet that when there’s a dilemma that threatens to conquer my strategy of thriving in all circumstances, I’m going to find a solution. So, here are my solutions for oil that I use at present.
First of all, understand that a container of shortening will actually last approximately 5 years if it’s stored in a cool, dry place. Yes, I realize that in some parts of the U.S., such places are hard to come by. But considering how much you pay for shortening and oils, I would prioritize some of the best “cool, dry” areas in your home to make room for the oil. It’s definitely a priority.
Next, let’s make sure that you focus on the right kinds of oils that are great to use everyday now, and that will also store well for you in the long-term.
The asset of olive oil tends to be underestimated. Yes, it’s true that you need to be mindful of how the olive oil is packaged and you want to make sure that it’s cold-pressed and impelled. Focus on the extra virgin oils that do not use any chemically refined processes in the extraction. Interesting to note is that it can be called “pure” but still use chemicals. Also, extra virgin olive oil can be as little as 10% “extra virgin” mixed in with the less shelf-stable ingredients of light or so-called “pure” olive oil. Try to purchase your olive oils that are from Italy, Spain, or Greece which are labeled as “100% extra virgin olive oil. In the long run, the pricier olive oils will be worth the peace of mind and taste. That’s not to say you don’t come across great deals on the good stuff periodically. I lucked out by getting several one-gallon, sealed, metal cans of great olive oil that will store indefinitely in cool, dry circumstances. Ironically, I found this great deal at a local hardware store. I also purchase it in the smaller containers when I have coupons. When I get them home, I wrap up the glass bottles in newspaper and then put them in a four-gallon square bucket to protect them against breakage in the event of an earthquake or flooding. Keep in mind that olive oil also has medicinal and cosmetic benefits as well. Don’t you just love multipurpose products?
Cold-pressed, expelled coconut oil is one of my favorite finds over the last several years. While there are some loud, misinformed voices claiming that coconut oil is bad for you, I assure you it’s just a bunch of hype orchestrated by the American Soybean Association. Yes, coconut oil contains saturated fats, but all saturated fats are not created equally. There’s a difference between a medium and a long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil contains a medium-chain fatty acid in it which means it’s easily digestible so it doesn’t just get stored somewhere in your body.
Coconut oil can be used in place of any oil or shortening—baking, deep-frying, everyday cooking, etc. When you cook with it, your foods do not take on a coconut flavor at all. Additionally, coconut oil really is good for you (which I’ll have to get into in another article) and it’s the only plant-derived saturated fat that exists. This is why is does not go rancid. In fact, it takes to sitting on a shelf with the utmost of good behavior, storing indefinitely. My goal is to convert all of my oils in my household to primarily coconut oil. I use it for my pie crusts, my fried eggs, and my deep-fried wheat meatballs. Yes, coconut oil can be pricier than your mainstream counter parts, but I feel a heck of a lot better investing in oil that I know won’t deteriorate in its taste or nutritional benefits whatsoever after several years. As an added benefit, when I use coconut oil to cook things with, the foods themselves last a lot longer in the refrigerator since they don’t contain any volatile polyunsaturated oils. Besides, finding good deals on coconut oil is possible. Be sure you purchase cold-pressed, expelled coconut oil, though. (I believe that Five Star Preparedness—also carries this product.) As an aside, I love taking a smidge of the coconut oil and putting it in my dry hair to sit for about 30 minutes prior to a good, hot shower. It’s better than any commercial conditioner I’ve found and is great for the health of my scalp. I just finished reading “The Coconut Oil Miracle” by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. which also has a great deal of other contributing information by other medical professionals. You might enjoy this book as well.
Lastly, applesauce. Yes, I said applesauce. Applesauce is an excellent substitute for oils in baking. Considering that it costs so much less than most oils, it’s healthier, and is even available in a freeze-dried form, applesauce is another oil solution that’s at the top of my list. I purchase it freeze-dried regularly in a #10 can. In that condition it will store for 30 years easily. I can use it for it’s obvious uses such as a side dish with a little bit of cinnamon, or in a slow-cooked pork recipe—yum! But I love the strategy of using it in lieu of oil in a cookie or cake recipe. Both turn out so wonderfully moist and tasty. (By the way, Five Star Preparedness is having a killer sale on #10 cans of freeze-dried applesauce which regularly retail for over $30. Their price on a limited supply is only $16.97!) I love the freeze-dried version because I get so tired of the applesauce that I buy in jars going brown before I have a chance to use it.
Hopefully this will help you all in solving this oily dilemma. I know these few little lessons have made a huge difference on eliminating expensive frustrations for me.
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