Oil Solutions

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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My only problem with coconut oil is that it tends to smoke. Perhaps that is related to the brand rather than the fact that it is coconut oil. But it does have a very low smoking point from my experience.

You can also use pumpkin in place of oil in baking just like applesauce.

Love your blog. So interesting and thorough.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Yes! Try putting pumpkin in a pancake mix that requires oil! It's soooo yummy!

I make pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies and pancakes all the time. They don't last long though. I am lucky if they let them cool 2 minutes before they disappear! It's a favorite thing here.
I LOVE coconut oil, if it is smoking you are using to high of a heat. But also, different grades will act differently. I have 4 different brands in my pantry and they all act differently in cooking. One smokes, one says only for baking. Another says not to heat above 350. Different qualities act differently I guess. Love it, but so expensive!

Kellene, thanks for another great article and thanks to the responses--I've never heard of pumpkin as a subsitute for applesauce. Thanks to all you who comment on this site and share your knowledge with the community when these topics come up. (hint--oh, pick me!)

I have also used a can of beans, blended well, in place of oil in brownies and cookies. It alters the taste a little, but they are still good.

Thanks for the info about the shelf life of shortening and I will definitely be looking into adding coconut oil into our family's pantry.

I'm glad you mentioned Applesauce. I think that is my favorite thing that my wife bottles. It tastes so much better than any processed applesauce, and is great for an oil substitute. Our 3 apple trees will provide a good source someday when they are bigger. For now we check fruit stands for boxes of bruised apples. The sauce turns out just as amazing either way! And all 3 of my kids will eat it!! That is reason enough to bottle applesauce.

I Am just a beginner when it comes to coconut oil. Can't wait to read more about it. I am a little confused about all that I've read so far. Maybe not so confused as overwhelmed. Liquid, solid. etc. etc.

Can't wait to read your post about it Kellene. You always write in such a way that I KNOW I will understand more about it. Thanks!

I only store 3 fats; olive oil, coconut, butter. We eat what we store and try to follow a traditional diet (our variation of Nourishing Traditions). While it is more money up front we are healthy and feel great. No prescriptions for our family. There is no price tag on health :)

Peanut oil is a great oil for frying. Very hi smoke point and lasts a long time after reheats. If you have a nut allergy DO NOT use a cold press peanut oil.
I love olive oil and "Butter flavored" shortnings. Fabulous multi taskers. Olive oil was also used as a lamp oil in Roman times with a cotton wick in a shallow bowl or amphora.
Lard has a bit of a bad rep but is great in foods and most of the trans fats have been removed. I'm not sure of the storage times.
Butter is starting to move up as a great fat. Alton Brown has a great show about butter vs. margerine. Wow what an Eye opener.
Kellene if you cook steaks on the stove and not the grill.
Get the steaks out early to get to room temp
Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper.
Melt 2 tblsp of butter over med. heat or at least enough to coat the pan well.
Cook the steaks about 6 minutes and flip.
Another 6 minutes should get you to med. rare. Pull steaks and rest under tinfoil.
Now you can do this recipe with Brandy or Cream or both. Scrape the fawn and add your liquid and let it thicken at slow boil for about 5 minutes. You can add more peppercorns if you like a bit more spice.

Great info. I'd read about coconut oil a while back but was on the fence. I'll go down that road now.

Jamie - thank you for your very descriptive steak recipe. Sounds good and makes me hungry! Guess I'll get out of bed and grab a snack now... :)

How much applesauce or pumpkin do you use in place of the oil?

Preparedness Pro's picture

I go tit for tat with the oil.

Oh it's awesome if you can't do a steak on the grill this is the next best answer. I wish I could take credit but it is an Alton Brown recipe. But gosh it is the bomb. Great pan-fried steaks and a gravy/sauce to die for, and so simple.

Good to know that foods cooked with coconut oil doesn't have a coconut taste. I'll check it out.

I take a vitamin E oil capsule or two, cut it open and dispense the oil into the bottle of olive oil. It does last longer than usual this way...

Preparedness Pro's picture

Hmm...that makes no sense to me since it's the vitamin E in the wheat that causes it to go rancid when it is exposed to oxygen. Perhaps it's the fact that the Vitamin E is also responsible for the long life of the wheat, so long as it's not exposed to oxygen, and thus if it's in the olive oil, the olive oil protectes it from oxygen exposure while retaining the benefits of the E. I'm definitely going to have to do some research on this one.

We have been using organic virgin coconut oil from Green Pastures for some time. It is the finest quality coconut oil we know of. It is somewhat costly, but worth it for its health benefits, taste, and unlimited shelf life. This oil tastes a good as butter and we actually think it is better than butter. It is even good for topical use on the skin. We love it! For us it is coconut oil and olive oil for storage.

A great place to look for expeller-pressed coconut oil is tropical traditions. Periodically you find buy one get one free deals on it. I just ordered 2 gallons and after shipping it was only $80. Considering I usually pay $8 for 8oz at the grocery store, I was thrilled. They also offer 5 gallon buckets and if you sign up for the newsletter you'll be able to see when they have free shipping days. Free shipping on a 5 gallon bucket turns into a great deal too!


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