Honey for the Survival Pantry

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honeyRich, 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

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.)
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Honey for the Survival Pantry — 17 Comments

  1. GREAT post! We’ve been fortunate to have a good supply of honey from a relative. We buy at least a dozen quarts of it a year from him. The only problem with that arrangement is one of self-sufficiency. He lives several hundred miles away so in desperate times, the honey won’t be available to us.

    We’ve considered starting our own beekeeping efforts, but that’s pretty involved. At least more involved than we feel that we have the time for right now.


    • Given the extended shelf life, why not double up and purchase a couple of dozen quarts at a time? There are so many uses – James Talmage (aka Doctor Prepper) suggests adding a few drops to powdered milk to enhance the taste.

      — Gaye

  2. We used to buy honey in 1 gallon jugs from a local bee keeper. I kept it at room temperature in my main storage room. It kept forever. While it did crystallize, the solution was as you say, just heat it in warm water. The bee keeper is long gone now, so we buy it at a wholesale outlet. Everybody likes sweet things and in a survival scenario it would be hard to come by sweets. So storing honey is a good hedge against times of wide spread deprivation.

  3. Wow! Talk about a post that’s right up my alley! Aside from the fact that I absolutely love honey in my coffee, on my toast, in oatmeal or grits, or eaten with a spoon right from the jar, I’ve also found it to be effective as a means to fight the occasional seasonal allergies.

    When I first moved to Arizona some years ago, I discovered that every January or February I would suffer from significant bouts of allergies. I could only determine the flare-ups to be the result of the early Spring blooms and, being the stubborn guy I am, I refused to see my doctor, mainly because I was sure she would eventually target and isolate the cause of the allergies, then place me on some sort of pill or injection of something or the other to keep me allergy free. I, however, want no part of pills or shots. I would far prefer something natural.

    A few years back, a friend of mine suggested local honey. Reason? Local bees gather pollen from local plants, which in turn is made into local honey. His thinking was that if my body was reacting negatively to something in the air that originated from local plants, why not injest the plants/pollen into my system via the local honey, in order to build up my immune system to whatever it was that was causing the allergic reactions.

    Fast forward two years. I haven’t experienced nearly the amount of allergy symptoms as I had prior to eating the local honey on a regular basis. Coincidence? Maybe. But I have to say that whatever it is that’s helping with the allergies (and I think it’s the honey), I’m just thankful. Besides, honey just tastes good–period! That’s reason enough for me to be a believer!

    • When I was a kid, I had really bad breathing issues with regular cases of bronchitis. My doctor suggested local honey for the same reasons you suggested. He also suggested doses of vitamin C. Seemed to have helped.


    • I had heard this about local honey. I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about buying some honey at a farmer’s market, that came from a place about 30 minutes’ drive from me. He said that would probably be too far away to get the allergy benefits. So I guess “local” really means LOCAL. Just something to keep in mind.

  4. Good post, SV, I have a couple of jars of honey but after reading your article and all the benefits I now think I don’t have nearly enough. Thanks for posting the honey butter recipe as well, I love honey butter! I may try it for allergy relief as RobNPhx mentioned in his comment, might be worth a try as the fall allergies are right around the corner.

  5. I have a Honey post queued up for our site but you’ve got some great info here! I’ll have to try that recipe. We are blessed to have a family source for raw honey and I am very grateful for it.

    I wonder what switching honey for corn syrup would do in a pecan pie… Only one way to find out. :-) I’m opposed to corn syrup on principle- it’s junk and it’s hard to escape- but I’ve never tried using honey interchangeably. Fodder for another post maybe…

  6. We received a #10 can of “honey powder” with a freeze dried/dehydrated food kit we ordered a while back. Haven’t tried it yet, but I remember thinking, why bother turning it in to powder? Heh. I guess one good thing is it takes less room to store.

  7. don’t forget the antiseptic/antibiotic properties of honey. it has been/is being used to treat large gaping wounds to prevent infection, speed healing, and i’m told it help keep scarring down to some degree.

  8. Honey is definitely the ultimate survival sweetener. If I thought I could actually become a beekeeper I most certainly would! Thanks for reminding us of this awesome natural food.

  9. I would like to add please check the labels of ‘store-bought’ honey. Some companies are importing honey from Thailand, Vietnam etc. that is not real honey but honey flavored. Please buy local or at least Made in USA. My local honey man showed this to me. To be healthful it must have pollen in it.

  10. The Queen of medicinal honeys is Manuka honey, it is such a powerfully antibiotic that it’s been recognised scientifically (and the active substance isolated). It is one of the only things that can treat and cure golden staph infections that are totally resistant to all antibiotics. It’s more expensive than normal honey but I have several jars in my emergency survival medical kit.

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