Rich, golden honey. What is not to like? Just the thought of sweet, fragrant honey and honey bees makes me think of happy times. That, coupled with it’s long storage life – think forever – makes honey a perfect food for the survival pantry. Let me tell you why.
A bit of background
Honey is made by bees from their own internal digestion (and regurgitation) of flower nectar. This is stored as a food source in wax honeycombs that are formed within the beehive. With about the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar, honey has a long history of human consumption, going back as far as ancient Egypt. Even back then it was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits.
There is also a long history of honey being used for religious and symbolic purposes. It is reported that jars of honey were found in Pharaoh’s tombs (now that is long term storage for you!) and Alexander the Great was supposedly embalmed in honey. In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah and, at the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year.
Types of Honey
The most recognized form of honey is the sweet, golden liquid that is found on the grocery shelf –often in cute little honey bear shaped squeeze bottles. Honey, however, can be found in various forms:
Liquid Honey – Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it’s especially convenient for cooking and baking. Most of the honey produced in the United States is sold in the liquid form.
Comb Honey – Comb honey is honey in its original form; that is, honey inside of the honeycomb. Did you know that the beeswax comb is edible?
Cut Comb – Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honey comb in the jar. This is also known as a liquid-cut comb combination.
Naturally Crystallized Honey – Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized. It is safe to eat.
Whipped (or Creamed) Honey – While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as creamed honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly. In many countries around the world, whipped honey is preferred to the liquid form especially at breakfast time.
In addition to the various types of honey, you can find organic honey and honey of various flavors. The various flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, such as Alfalfa, Clover, Fireweed, Manuka, Orange Blossom and more.
Uses in Medicine
By far, the most common main stream medical use of honey is to treat sore throats. Honey has been used in this manner for centuries and to this day it is used as a treatment for sore throats and coughs. Recently the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey been studied and chemically explained and even the prestigious Mayo Clinic has recognized various medical uses of honey.
There is just one caution: Honey sometimes contains dormant spores of a type of botulism, which can be dangerous to an infants intestinal tract. For that reason, children under one year of age should not be given honey in any form.
Storing honey is a easy in that there are just a few simple guidelines that will insure it’s long term viability and pleasing color. The main thing you want to do is store honey at room temperature. Extreme high or low temperatures should be avoided although neither will affect it’s quality.
About the worst thing than can happen to honey is that it will crystallize. This is a normal part of the honey aging process whereby the liquid in honey becomes solid. Storing honey is the refrigerator hastens this process so don’t do it. Easy as that.
Regardless of how careful you are, in a long term storage situation, honey will crystallize. When that happens, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Just be careful not to overdo it since too much heat will darken the honey even more and may possible scorch and burn the honey.
Cooking With Honey
Although it is optimal to use recipes developed for honey, it can easily be substituted for sugar by following just a few simple guidelines. Begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. If that works out well, you can add more next time, gradually increasing the substitution as long as you are satisfied with the results.
Here are some specific tips for using honey in baked goods:
- Use 75% liquid honey for each cup of sugar called for in the recipe
- As a rule of thumb, reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used
- Add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used
- To prevent over-browning, reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning
Worried about a sticky mess when cooking with honey? For easy measuring and clean-up, coat your measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray before adding honey.
Honey is inexpensive
I priced honey at $16 for a 6 pound jug at Costco. In the meantime, I found the same amount at Amazon for a tad over $17 with free shipping. Makes the trip to the city hardly worth it. Here is a link: Great Lakes Select Clover Honey.
The Nutritional Profile
Honey is composed primarily of carbohydrates (natural sugars) and water, as well as trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. Providing 17 grams of carbohydrates and 64 calories per tablespoon, honey is an all-natural sweetener without any added ingredients.
Honey also contains a variety of flavonoids and phenolic acids, which act as antioxidants, scavenging and eliminating free radicals. Generally, darker honeys have higher antioxidant content than lighter honeys.
Need more information?
If you are interested in reading about the healing properties of honey, you might like this book, The Honey Prescription: The Amazing Power of Honey as Medicine.
In addition, you can find some neat recipes for beauty treatments made with honey as well as lots of other information and tips over at the National Honey Board web site.
And finally, here is an article from US News & Reports on The Healing Power of Honey.
Honey for the Survival Pantry
Easy storage, long shelf life, versatile, and inexpensive. What more could you ask for in a survival pantry item?
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day: With all of that great tasting honey, you need to make yourself some Honey Butter. This recipe comes from the book Jan’s Fabulous Food Storage Recipes. Jan is one of the sponsors of this blog so please take a few minutes to browse her store at www.healthyharvest.com. Be sure mention you found her at Backdoor Survival!
Jan LeBaron’s Honey Butter
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine (fresh or canned or from butter powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/16 vanilla powder
- 1/2 cup honey
Mix all ingredients together until creamy. Use to serve on any hot bread, biscuits or cornbread. Yummy.
From the Bargain Bin: Here is a recap some of my SurvivalWoman picks and reader favorites.
- Lodge 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: Who would of thought I would trade my fancy schmanzy Analon skillet (over $100) for this old-fashioned basic?
- Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers: A must have for your cast iron skillet. Dirt cheap and worth twice the price.
- Ove Gloves: Another must have. Be sure to get two – one for each hand. BTW, they wash up beautifully.
- Movie: The Road: Or the book version. I prefer the quick fix but commenters have said the book is incredible.
- Documentary – Collapse: This Nat Geo series will keep you awake thinking about it. This is a real call to action.
- Book: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Or the original, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
- Book: How to Live on Wheat: Excellent all around primer on all things wheat.
- Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers: Essential for long term food storage. I prefer the one gallon sized bags but YMMV.
- Doctor Prepper’s The Best of Basics Family Preparedness Guide: From the Rock Stare of preparedness manuals. Lots of checklists, ideas, recipes, and more. It is so nice to have everything in one place!
- Pepper Spray: This does not replace your shotgun but is small and easy to get to in a myriad of situations.
- Kingston 8GB Digital DataTraveler: You can never have too many flash drives. This is an essential component for storing copies of important documents and reference manuals in your bug out bag. (And if you are lucky, you will have power to retrieve them.)