Can you live without the sweetness of sugar in your food storage?
This article is not about whether you should or should not have sugar – in its various forms – in your food storage. I’m going to leave it to you to do the research and decide whether sugar is right for you and your family.
Most people store at least one kind of sugar in their food storage plan. Usually that is refined white granulated sugar. The kind you find in any conventional grocery store. It is cheap and lasts 30+ years if stored properly.
If you are relying entirely on your food storage for subsistence, you may find that a bit of sweet becomes important in your daily diet.
Sugars are simple carbohydrates that provide an excellent source of calories for energy. Sugars also add the sweet taste to many of our most delicious foods. Sugar can be stored in dry form (crystals) or in a liquid form (syrup –including maple syrup). Sugar from beets or sugarcane (sucrose), corn (dextrose), and honey (fructose) are most commonly used for long term food storage.
How to Store Your Dry Sugar
Removing oxygen for long term sugar and honey storage is not required and not recommended. Why? Since honey is slightly acidic. It will cause rust in metal containers or on metal lids. Oxygen absorbers are not needed, they will cause your sugar to become one giant “rock” and you’ll need a chisel to use it in the future.
- Polyethylene bags,
- Mylar-type bags,
- Food-grade plastic buckets,
- Glass canning jars work best for liquid syrup and honey
- #10 cans are suitable for dry sugar storage. You can purchase these at most wholesale food warehouses and if you are lucky enough to have access to an LDS Dry Pack Cannery in Utah, you can even can your own.
How Much Sugar Do You Need?
What are the recommendations for one person for 1 year of food storage? According to LDS food storage calculator a family of 4 would need 240 pounds of sweetener in various forms. You can find the calculator here. Even though these recommendations tell you how much to have of each kind of sugar, you should make the mix fit your family needs. Perhaps your family would use more honey and less granulated sugar. Just make sure the total gets close to the recommendation.
Granulated Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Brown Sugar
Why do you want granulated sugar in your Food Storage? It is the most versatile of the sugars and the least expensive. You will probably use it for cooking and canning purposes.
Shelf Life: Granulated sugar has a 30 year shelf life.
In today’s food processing environment, light brown sugar and dark brown sugar appear to be make from granulated sugar with varying amounts of molasses added for color and flavor. Here’s a post from My Sweet Mission to make your own brown sugar from granulated sugar.
Storage Conditions: You should store all forms of granulated store sugar in a cool, dry location, not the refrigerator. Moisture makes granulated sugar hard and lumpy. Once this happens, it creates problems in usage and there is no easy method to restore lumpy sugar. Always store all sugars in an odor free area. Sugar can absorb strong odors – even through plastic packaging.
Honey and other sugar syrups should not be allowed to get too hot or freeze – this will encourage crystallization. Heat will also darken color and alter flavor in sugar syrups and honey. If your honey becomes crystalized, it’s not lost. All you need to do is introduce gentle heat to the container and it will become liquid again. I’ve placed my big containers outside on a sunny day, popped smaller canning jars of honey into the microwave, and placed medium size containers in a bowl of hot water.
Shelf Life: indefinitely
Storage conditions: Use canning jars or food grade buckets. I once purchased a gallon of honey in a milk-like jug. I would not recommend it for long term storage; it has proven to be the most difficult way to access the honey when I wanted it.
Equal, NutriSweet, Sweet n Low, Splenda, etc. Without going into a debate about whether you should even have these sweeteners around, let’s just say that they are convenient. Most are used in commercial preparations as additions to yogurt and diet foods. We actually have a bag of Splenda in our food storage and I would use it if I needed to.
Shelf Life: Appears to be indefinite
Storage Conditions: Canning jars or food grade plastic containers. Keep away from moisture.
Date sugar is simply dehydrated and ground dates! Used as a 1:1 substitute for brown sugar or white sugar, Date Sugar will impart softness to the texture of baked goods, similar to Maple Crystals. You will also find date sugar to be less sweet than both brown and white sugar. Date sugar does not melt well, but you will be able to see it in your baked goods. Some experimentation may be necessary when converting recipes. Date Sugar is particularly tasty in morning oatmeal!
Shelf Life: 2 to 5 years and up to 10 years if stored in the freezer. See the previous post Date Sugar 101 – Does it have a place in your food storage?
Storage Conditions: To extend its storage life up to 5 years, keep it in an oxygen free environment – so get out your FoodSaver and keep it in a tightly closed container in your refrigerator or pantry. Aim to keep it stored in an environment less than 70 degrees F. and with low moisture.
Derived from the stevia plant, stevia and its extracts Truvia and Pure Via are deemed the natural alternative to artificial sweeteners. You should be careful about the ingredients in these and all packaged stevia products. Make sure they have not added any other sweeteners to the mix.
Shelf Life: Processed stevia will last indefinitely.
Storage Conditions: Your own dried, powdered stevia will last for several years if kept in a cool, dark, dry location. Think herb storage and you should be fine. Learn to make your own stevia extract.
This nectar is a product of the agave cactus, and its taste and texture are similar to honey. It doesn’t contain as many antioxidants as honey, but it contains approximately the same amount of calories. Agave, however, is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less to get similar sweetness. (source)
Shelf Life: 2 to 5 years
Storage Conditions: Canning jars or food grade containers. The jug it comes in works well for storage. It will not crystalize like honey. Keep agave in a cool, dark place to extend your storage time. If you have to purchase agave nectar in bulk, storage is simple. Transfer the agave nectar to a sterile, air-tight glass jar, ensuring any spills are wiped off the sides of the jar. Like any sweet food, agave nectar can attract ants if not cleaned up.
This hotly debated sweetener contains the sugars fructose and glucose from processed corn syrup. It is inexpensive to purchase. You can use it in recipes like you would honey.
Shelf Life: indefinitely, however it will get thicker the older it gets.
Storage Conditions: According to the Karo Syrup website – corn syrup is safe to eat for an indefinite period of time whether it has been opened or not opened. However, for best results we recommend using before the “Best by” date stamped on the container. Bottles may be refrigerated after opening, but the syrup will be thicker and slower to pour.
From the Cornell University FAQ website:Maple syrup must meet exacting standards for purity. High quality pure maple syrup can be made only by the evaporation of pure maple sap, and by weight may contain no less than 66 percent sugar (Brix). In Vermont and New Hampshire the minimum sugar content is 66.9%. Maple syrup is classified according to its color, which is a rough guide to flavor intensity. The darker the syrup, the stronger the flavors.
- New York Grade A Light Amber or Vermont Fancy — the lightest of the three classifications has a mild, delicate flavor
- Medium Amber — a bit darker with a fuller flavor
- Dark Amber — the darkest of the three grades has a stronger maple, caramel, and other flavors
- Grade B — has the strongest flavors
Shelf Life: According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, unopened maple syrup will keep indefinitely, but it must be refrigerated once opened. If you are purchasing 100 percent pure maple syrup, it should keep for a year unopened in the pantry, a year opened in the refrigerator, and indefinitely in the freezer.
Storage Conditions: Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association recommends storing unopened maple syrup in a cool place. For long term storage, the Association says that maple syrup retains its flavor best when kept in the freezer (it will not freeze solid). Look at tis Michigan State article about canning and storing your own maple syrup.
Apple Cider Syrup
While I was doing my research on sugar for food storage, I came across this post from The Yummy Life about making your own Apple Cider Syrup. Monica suggests that, among other things, you can use it to sweeten yogurt, add to oatmeal or drizzle on pancakes. You can even use it to make your own spiced cider drink by adding a teaspoon of apple cider syrup to a cup of hot water.
One gallon of cider makes two cups of syrup, so it’s probably best if you can find a local source or if you have your own apple trees. I love the idea of being able to make your own natural sweetener.
Shelf Life: 2 to 5 years. This recipe can be processed in a water bath canner.
Storage Conditions: Canning jars with water bath canning are your best bet.
Which sugar should you store to get the biggest bang for your food storage buck? That’s going to depend on your family needs, but granulated white sugar is the most economical. Remember a family of 4 needs 240 pounds of sugar – in various forms – in their long term storage. How many of these sugar types will you add to yours?