Monday, February 7, 2011

How Sweet It Is!

I love sweet stuff! I love cookies and candies and almost anything that has sugar in it and I probably eat more than I should. Okay, I have really cut back since Christmas but considering all the goodies we made at Christmastime, that isn’t really saying much. However, most everything that isn’t savory has some kind of sweetener in it.

We’ve talked before about honey and what an awesome sweetener it is. Today we’ll talk about some of the other sweetener options we may choose to have in our storage. All the beans and wheat in the world will get pretty bland without a little sugar to lighten them up.

The recommended amount of sweeteners per person per year in your food storage are as follows: Honey – 3 lbs., Sugar – 40 lbs. , Brown sugar – 3 lbs., Molasses – 1 lb., Corn Syrup – 3 lbs., Jams and Jellies – 3 lbs., Powdered fruit drinks – 6 lbs. and flavored Gelatin – 1 lb. This is a total of 60 lbs. of sweeteners for each person in your family. Remember these are the MINIMUM recommended amounts for each person in your household. You really need to evaluate how much of each you use in a year and adjust the quantities as necessary. I’m sure that we use at least 3 times as much brown sugar as the recommended amount, and I know we use more honey. I go through a lot of sugar when making jams and jellies too.

The picture above shows several sweetener options. (Who turned the Molasses bottle around so the label doesn’t show? Hmmm. Sorry about that. Some of the other sweeteners that are options, not shown in the picture are agave nectar, granulated fructose, jams and jellies and powdered sweetened fruit drinks and even maple syrup.

Honey is probably the easiest sweetener to store. It stores well and never spoils. It has gotten a little pricier lately but is still one of the best storage options. If you are interested in buying honey in a large quantity, you may consider checking with a honey distributer in your area for better prices. Consider getting a group of friends together to see if you can get a better price. As we’ve talked before, it is important to use honey that is made in your local area as it helps combat allergies. Because honey has a natural presence of endospores, you shouldn't give it to children under the age of 1 year old. This is something to plan for when considering food storage.

Granulated sugar is something I really want to have in my storage, if for no other reason than to use in my canning. I wonder how long I could go without a cookie??? White sugar will store indefinitely as long as it is stored in a cool, dry area. Sugar is highly susceptible to moisture as well as pests. If you decide to store granulated sugar, however, you may want to consider dry packing it or buying it in the sealed buckets as it absorbs moisture very easily and goes hard. When dry pack canning sugar, omit the oxygen packet, it will suck out all the moisture and make your sugar into a hard rock. It is still useable when it’s hard, but difficult to measure and add to recipes.

Brown Sugar is something we have talked about storing a bit too. Brown Sugar is basically just white sugar with added molasses, making it moist and giving it color. The storage on it is a little difficult but the same rules apply with it as with granulated sugar. If kept moisture free, it stores well for a long time. Other than canning, I probably use as much if not more brown sugar than granulated sugar. I would never want to be without it. If brown sugar does harden, here are some ideas to keep it soft; 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 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.

Powdered sugar is another storage option. I mostly use it in baking but have used it in several other things as well. It too, stores well for a long time if kept moisture free. It is a great item to dry pack if you are interested.

Molasses is another sweetener that many people use in lots of different recipes. It stores well and is an option to use in many sauces, desserts and baking in general. I always use it in my granola and pumpkin pies.

Corn Syrup also known as Karo Syrup can be stored as part of your sweetener storage too. 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. It is used in candy making as well as many syrups and sauces. The storage life is pretty much indefinite, open or unopened. It stores well if kept in a cool dark place. 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.

Jell-O or Sweetened Gelatin is probably the most overlooked sweetener item. I promise that if you have kids and store Jell-O you will be glad you did. It can actually be used in other ways besides set Jell-O and is a great storage option. If you decide to buy it, make sure you buy it in the #10 size cans as it is so much cheaper than buying it in the small boxes. I keep hoping that someday it will be available in bulk but I haven’t seen it yet. However, in my experience the flavors you can buy in the large cans are limited so if you have other flavors that you use regularly you might consider other options. Check with restaurant suppliers for larger quantities of different flavors of jell-o. Gelatin has an indefinite shelf life. Gelatin can be used to make savory or sweet recipes. Unflavored gelatin comes in sheets or powder. It is 85% protein. Keep your gelatin powder or sheets wrapped tightly. Stored in a dry, cool place, they will last for years.

Jams and Jellies are an awesome thing to have stored. How much jam or jelly does your family use? One thing to consider is that if we were in a crisis and you couldn’t go to the store and cooking involved building a fire, we would probably eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than usual. Jam is a great way to sweeten oatmeal or to use in cookies or on pancakes. However, remember that if you make your own jam or jelly, you’ll need to calculate extra sugar in your food storage for canning.

Powdered fruit drink is another option. Remember that the taste changes over the years of storage so although it is a great storage item, it must be rotated and replenished regularly. It is available in bulk and some canneries and many food storage suppliers.

Agave nectar is a great option. 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 its raw form and is not made by bees. It is a little more expensive but is very sweet. If you have not tried it and can’t use honey for some reason, give it a try. You’ll find it in the grocery store next to honey. The storage life is about 2-3 years, though others claim it’s longer. That combined with the expensive price tag, doesn't make this a number one choice, but it is a nice alternative to have around.

Fructose is sweeter than honey but an option for some who don’t like to store sugar. You can find it almost anywhere these days but can often buy it a little cheaper in the bulk section. If you decide to use Fructose, you’ll need to experiment as to how much to use.

Maple Syrup is wonderful on pancakes, but it's also great as a topping for oatmeal and can be used to replace sugar in some recipes. Of course if you store maple extract and brown or white sugar you can make your own syrup, however, if your family likes it, it is a good idea to have some on hand. The shelf life of unopened maple syrup is 2 years or more if kept in a cool dark place. After opening the syrup, you have at least a year, maybe more if it is stored in the refrigerator.

Here are some general rules for changing out different sweeteners in your recipes. Of course every recipe is different and may need some adjustments:
•You can substitute brown sugar for granulated white on a 1 to 1 basis, and the most significant difference will be taste.
•Substitute white sugar for brown sugar on a 1 to 1 basis, but add 4 T. of molasses per cup, and decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by 3 T.
•To use honey in place of sugar, use 7/8 cup for every cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 T.
•To use sugar in place of honey, use 1¼ c. of sugar plus 1/4 c. more liquid.
•To use maple syrup in place of sugar in cooking, use 3/4 cup for every 1 cup of sugar.
•To use maple syrup in place of a cup of sugar in baking, use 3/4 cup, but decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by about 3 T. for each cup of syrup you use.
•To use sugar in place of a cup of maple syrup, use 1-1/4 cups of sugar plus 1/4 cup more liquid.
Finally, granulated sugar has 46 calories per tablespoon, brown sugar has 50, maple syrup has 53, and honey tops them all with 64.

Here are some fun recipes using some of the alternative sweeteners listed above. Do you have a favorite recipe like one of these that uses one of these different sweeteners? Email it to me at and we’ll post it here.

Jam Cake
1/2 pound butter
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon allspice
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 whole eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups blackberry jam
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and yolks; beat until light. Sift flour with dry ingredients. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk; add jam. Bake in 3 greased and floured 8-inch pans for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
2 egg whites
1/2 pound butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
Cook butter, sugar and milk to soft ball stage; pour slowly over stiffly beaten egg whites. Spread between layers and over cake.

Jam Cookies – My favorite cookies from my Grandma Weatherston
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
3 eggs
½ c. strawberry or other jam
1 c. nuts
1 c. ground raisins (grinder or food processor)
1 t. soda dissolved in ¼ c. water
1 t. cinnamon
2 ¾ c. flour
Cream brown sugar & butter; add remaining ingredients. Bake at 375º for 15 minutes.

(A delightful cookie that uses no eggs and only powdered sugar for a sweetener)
1 c. butter
¼ c. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 T. water
2 c. flour
Mix well and add chopped nuts. Roll into balls and bake on greased pan at 300º for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and immediately roll in powdered sugar.

Jell-O Kool-Aid Punch (First had this at a friend’s birthday party)
2 pkg. any flavor Kool-Aid
1 sm. pkg. Jell-O
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 lg. can pineapple juice
Use any flavor Kool-Aid and Jell-O, according to color and flavor desired. Put Jello, sugar and Kool-Aid in a gallon container. Add a little boiling water to dissolve sugar and Jello. Add pineapple juice and enough cold water to make a gallon. Refrigerate. Add ginger ale just before serving.

Seriously Good Jell-O Cookies
3/4 c. Shortening
1/2 c. Sugar
1 -3 oz. pkg. Jell-O any flavor (cherry is good, but you can do anything, grape, lemon, lime etc.)
2 eggs
1 t. Vanilla
2 1/2 c. Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Salt
Heat oven to 400º. Mix together shortening, sugar, jell-o, eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Roll into balls and then roll in sugar. Flatten cookies with the bottom of a glass, just slightly. Bake for 6-8 minutes.

Pretty Pink Popcorn
1 c. light corn syrup
½ c. sugar
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cherry Jell-O
10 c. popped corn
Combine corn syrup and sugar in heavy pan. Cover with lid and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and add Jell-O. Stir till dissolved. Place popcorn in large buttered bowl. Pour syrup over popcorn and stir till all kernels are coated with syrup. Shape into balls with buttered hands if desired. Y: 12 balls.

Sugar on Snow
Boil a pint of maple syrup until it reaches 232º on a candy thermometer. Drop by small spoonfuls on hard packed snow or crushed ice.

Maple Frosting
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients but vanilla in top of double boiler. Cook over boiling water, blending constantly with egg beater until mixture stands in peaks. Add vanilla and continue beating until thick enough to spread.

Maple Sundae Sauce
1/2 c. Maple Syrup
8 marshmallows
Combine syrup and marshmallows and cook over hot water, stirring frequently, until marshmallows have melted. Cool; add 1/2 c. chopped nuts. Serve over ice cream or baked pudding.

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