Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food Storage Sweeteners

Today we'll explore different types of sweeteners that you can store in your food storage. All the beans and wheat in the world will get pretty bland without a little sugar to lighten them up.

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Sugar Common table sugar is generally made from sugar cane or sugar beet.

Storage life:
White sugar will store indefinitely (aka forever) as long as it is stored in a cool, dry area. You want to cover your sugar, both for pests and because sugar is highly susceptible to moisture. When canning sugar using a canner, omit the oxygen packet, it will suck out all the moisture and make your sugar into a hard rock.

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Brown Sugar Brown sugar is basically just white sugar with added molasses, making it moist and giving it color. I don't know what I'd do without brown sugar on my oatmeal. Natural brown sugar or raw sugar is made from the first crystallization of sugar cane. Natural brown sugar is also known as turbinado sugar and other types of natural sugars.

Storage Life:
Since brown sugar is just a variation of white sugar, it's shelf life is similar. Brown sugar does harden over time though. Some ideas to keep it soft are to put a slice of bread or some apple slices into your brown sugar over night. The sugar will suck out the moisture and soften. You can also use a piece of clay (my mom has a cute bear shape piece) and soak it in water, dry the outside, and store it with your brown sugar. Make sure the sugar is in an airtight container, always covered.

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Honey Honey is a sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. If you've never had honey drizzled onto fresh baked bread, you're really missing out! Because honey has a natural presence of endospores, you shouldn't give it to children under the age of 1 year old. Which is something to plan for when considering food storage.

Storage Life: Because of it's high content of sugar, honey has a very long shelf life. Keep it covered tightly and stored in a cool, dry place. Over time, honey will crystallize which will affect the texture, but not the taste or quality.

agave nectar
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Agave Nectar Agave nectar or syrup is made from the agave plant in Mexico. The same plant that gives us tequila interestingly. Agave is the sweetener of choice for vegans because it is natural and in it's raw form and is not made by bees. Here is a link for substituting agave nectar for other sugars. We've substituted agave for sugar in two recipes here on the blog: Fruit Leather and Raisin Bran Muffins.

Storage Life: 2-3 years is all the storage life is. That combined with the expensive price tag, doesn't make this my number one choice, but it is a nice alternative to have around.

Corn Syrup Corn syrup is made from corn (maize) and is not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup which is a swear word in today's society. If you've ever had a popcorn ball, you've had corn syrup.

Storage Life: Pretty much indefinite, open or unopen. Which is good because I don't think I've gone through the bottle I bought when I moved here 6 years ago. Whatever your feelings on corn syrup are, it is inexpensive and if money is tight, it might be a good thing to add to your food storage in a small quantity.

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Maple Syrup No I'm not talking about Mrs. Butterworth's syrup. Real maple syrup is a syrup made from the sap of maple trees. Just a random fact: in the Civil War, the northern states were encouraged to make their sugar last by sweetening their foods with maple syrup or maple sugar because sugar cane was produced in the southern states by the slaves. If you want to learn about making maple sugar, read "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder (my daughter and I are reading the books). Syrup is, of course, wonderful on pancakes, but it's also great as a topping for oatmeal and can be used to replace sugar in some recipes.

Storage Life: The shelf life of unopened maple syrup is 1 year. After opening the syrup, you have six months as long as it is stored in the refrigerator.

Did I miss your favorite sweetener? Could you live without a bit of sweet in your food storage? One sweetener I always have in my food storage...Nutella!


Heather A. said...

I store sugar and molasses, instead of brown sugar. They both keep a long time, and making brown sugar is just stirring, basically.

Bowl Covers said...

Thanks for going into detail about food storage sweeteners. By keeping sweeteners with a high content of sugar in air-tight containers, their shelf life would seem to be indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about the storage life of agave nectar? I had read somewhere last year that this stuff would store VERY long term (like 25 years?) and never crystalize. I don't remember where I got the information, but it's completely different from what you found.

Ami said...

Gotta have molasses! I use it straight on oatmeal for a shot of iron, and in cookies/desserts.

Marie said...

Maple syrup definitely lasts longer than six months. The information I have says two years sealed in its original container and one year after opening. It can be stored in the freezer, too, and it will last even longer.
Maple syrup's pretty common up here in Canada, and I have to admit I've never, ever, ever seen spoiled syrup. The bottle in my fridge is at least a year old and it's perfectly fine.

And I think the word for how long honey lasts is ... forever. :) If it crystallizes, just warm it up and then pour into it into sterilized canning jars. Crystals all gone. I buy honey in large containers, heat it and put into into pint jars, then waterbath them for ten minutes to seal the jars.

Anonymous said...

You didn´t mention Stevia Rebudiana! Wich is a herb many times sweeter than sugar but without the backdraws of sugar. AND it has medicinal uses.


miriam.plass said...

Just a note for those who want to store Honey. I love it because it goes in my bread. My parents and I learned a great lesson in Honey storage. They made bread 8+loaves a week my whole life and went through honey quickly. They got a great deal on a 5 gallon bucket of honey and that was how they stored it. I spent nearly 4 hours scraping it out once it had crystalized and putting it into quart jars so that they could easily be heated up to make it fluid again. So, when you buy it and it is is fluid. Place it in jars or smaller containers that can be easily accessed and heated. You wont be heating a 5 gallon bucket any day!