Saturday, February 5, 2011

Long Term Food Storage - Sugars & Sweet Things

I mentioned some of the basic items like wheat, rice, corn, pasta & beans that we keep on hand here in two previous blogs (see Grocery List  and Small Space Dry Food Storage). This time I’m going to talk about the sweeter side of food storage. 

White sugar is probably the most basic & easiest to obtain item in your sweets category.  It’s relatively cheap and easy to find in bulk and if stored in an airtight container or package in a cool environment, it has a shelf life of like, well, forever.  Besides making the obvious cookies, cakes and other sweet breads, it’s also used for making jelly and jam, which can be water-bath canned (for long term storage).
Honey is by far my favorite sweetener.  How can you not like bee barf?? Honey also has an almost infinite shelf-life.  It may solidify over time, but it’s just as good in solid form & if you want it liquid again, scoop what you need into a jar & slowly heat it in a double boiler.  Unfortunately, honey is pretty costly.  If I could buy & store more I would.  The “cheapie” honey we buy is for baking and cooking, but I do buy local honey for putting in my tea or on fresh, hot biscuits.  I wish I had the time, means and nerve to raise honeybees.  Maybe one day. 
Corn Syrup is another item we store, although not in the quantities as our sugar & honey stash.  I find that I only use it for candy making or pecan pies and that doesn’t happen very often.  Corn syrup, unopened, will store indefinitely.
Molasses is something I don’t store much of, but really should.  And if you buy molasses, you won’t have to buy brown sugar.  I haven’t purchased brown sugar in years.  Just add a drop or two of molasses to your white sugar and *poof* - you’ve got yourself some brown sugar.  Really.  Manufacturer’s recommended shelf life is 8 – 12 months. My bottle is over a year old & only half empty and I’m still using it. 
Canned fruits and jams are also considered part of the Sweeteners section of your pantry.  Most commercial producers of jams & jellies state that their products are “best used” a year from date of purchase, although we’ve opened a jar of store-bought jam that was three years old and it tasted just fine.  Use common sense.  If you have a ten year old jar of jam, I’d be a bit worried, not necessarily because of the safety of the jam, but because of the quality / taste.  If the seal has been compromised, if it smells or looks “weird”, don’t take chances, throw it out.  It’s not worth the safety of your family to save that two-dollar jar of jam.
And yes, those are bags of chocolate chips in the box.  In a survival situation, having access to some sort of chocolate is a NECESSITY in my book.  And my definition of "survival" may mean just getting through the weekend without going bonkers.  You don’t want to know how many pounds of chips I have in the pantry.  
My friend Kathy, who owns & runs a chocolate shop….Cue shameless plug: (www.l& tells me that chocolate has an infinite shelf life, although changing temperatures may cause it to “bloom” (a dusty white area) on some surfaces.  It’s still perfectly good to eat though. 
There are many people that swear by the BBB principle (Beans, Bullets, Band Aids) for survival / preparedness / barter items - which is all well and good.  If it ever does come down to having to survive using our pantry & other stored resources, we will be ready.  But I will be the one munching on a chocolate chip cookie while the other guy is sitting on his box of ammo, eating boiled pinto beans.


  1. Many of these items can be used as money in tough times. Something else to think about. Things like coffee, sugar, salt and tobacco all gain in value during tough times.

  2. I often thought of that. I wonder how many bricks of 22's a bag of chocolate chips would get me? :)

  3. I had the same thought about chocolate! I also wondered if it's worth more than cigarettes in a women's prison (I'm totally random at times lol).

    And you are the first person I've run across that knew the molasses = brown sugar trick.

    Great minds...and all that... ;)

  4. Molasess was an item I thought I would never have a need for until I discovered what it does for fresh milled wheat bread. Milling your own wheat grain for flour to make bread and other baked goodies has a sharp or slightly bitter taste and will upset some stomachs. Adding 1 tablespoon per loaf of bread recipe and you will be surprised how great the bread and baked items will taste. I stock it as a must have.