Put a little sweet in your life
Admit it. We all have a sweet tooth. We really can’t do without our sugar. Well, we can, but who really wants to?
But storing sugar as part of your food storage 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, it can impart oils and odors to the sugar.
But you eliminate all of those problems 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.
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 (and use) 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 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.
Honey contains minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc) and vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids) which help the body to metabolize cholesterol and other undesirable fatty acids.
What else should you know about honey?
- 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. 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 (90º) or in the freezer.
- 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, honey in the grocery store is pasteurized. That means that it will take a longer time to crystallize, or it may never crystalize.
- 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.
- 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 botulin spores that are widespread in nature and perfectly harmless to children and adults. But an infant’s immune system quite often is not vigorous enough to defend against it.
Where can you buy your honey?
Buying local is always best. Buying local means you know you are getting pure honey, not watered down hone 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. Here’s where you will find a beekeeper near you.
Now is the time of year to get your honey
The beekeepers 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.
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.