Provident Home Companion
Admit it. We all have a sweet tooth. We really can’t do without our sugar. Well, we can, but who really wants to?
That’s why sugar or honey is a cornerstone of your basic long-term food storage. But storing sugar can be problematic. Even the slightest amount of moisture can cause sugar to clump. Too much moisture and you are left with a tasty, but worthless, brick. Pests often find their way inside storage containers. And if you store sugar in a plastic storage container that is not pristine, the plastic can impart oils and odors to the sugar. Even properly stored, the shelf life of sugar is two to five years.
Why store honey?
You eliminate all of the problems of sugar when you store honey. Properly stored, honey has a shelf life of several years—some say decades. Unless you store it in an unclean container, there’s really not much that you can do to spoil honey or make it inedible. That makes honey ideal for your long-term storage plan.
Besides being a good sweetener for long-term storage, honey has a lot of other things going for it:
- The sweetness in honey is more concentrated than sugar, so you can store less of it than you would sugar. In baking, substitute 2/3 cup honey for every one cup sugar and reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup per cup of honey used. For candy making use honey in place of corn syrup in recipes, cup for cup. Honey has anti-biotic and anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat burns and mild abrasions.
- It can also help with stomach issues and allergies. Dark honey (such as buckwheat) has a strong flavor, almost like molasses, but it is good for treating coughs and colds.
- Honey is a whole food that has some added health benefits. It contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. It also contains minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc) and vitamins (B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids) which help the body to metabolize cholesterol and other undesirable fatty acids.
- Raw unfiltered honey contains bee pollen, which has long been considered one of nature’s most nourishing foods. Studies show that these trace pollens from locally produced honey can help with allergies. Even if the honey is produced locally, if it is highly filtered or pasteurized, it will not have the same health benefits as raw honey.
[Insert picture: honey jars. Credit: Flickr]
Other things you should know:
- All raw honey will eventually crystallize at room temp, which is when the honey becomes solid and grainy. You can avoid the honey crystallizing by keeping the honey in a warm room.
- You can gently heat the honey to liquefy it again. Do not overheat! Bringing honey to temperatures over 94º will cause some of the natural, beneficial enzymes to break down.
- Unless the label say that it’s raw, the honey in the grocery store is pasteurized. That means that it has been heated to destroy bacteria. It will take a longer time to crystallize, or it may never crystallize.
- Much of the honey that is in the grocery store (and pretty much all honey from China) is often diluted with corn syrup. This is another good reason to buy your honey from a local producer or from a source that you know and trust.
- While honey has good health benefits, you should never give honey to babies under one year. Honey contains botulinum spores that are widespread in nature and perfectly harmless to children and adults. But an infant’s immune system is not fully mature and thus may not be able to defend against it.
Where to buy bulk honey
Buying local is always best. Buying local means you know you are getting pure honey, not a honey-flavored syrup watered down with corn syrup. Local also means you get the added value of local pollens in the honey that help reduce allergies.
Start with your state’s Beekeeper’s Association to find a local beekeeper.
The beekeepers in our area are bringing in this year’s harvest right now. By late September they will have put all their bees to bed for the winter. After that, you will be hard pressed to find large quantities of honey for your food storage.
If you are storing honey as part of your long-term storage, you should store 60 lbs. of honey per person per year.
This wonder food should be an important part of your family’s food storage. Make it a goal to stock up on honey this month.
Where to find local beekeepers: https://www.ndbeekeepers.org/