Sweet Life: Sugar Alternatives for Your Homesteading Needs
by Tess Pennington
by Tess Pennington: Cold
and Flu Remedies From the Pantry
If you have
a sweet tooth, like me, you may also quake in fear of the day when
you can no longer purchase sugar at the store. Whats a dessert
lover to do if the day ever comes when your sugar canister has run
there are many alternatives to white sugar that you can produce
on your own homestead. Learning how to cultivate these alternative
sweeteners can provide you with not only a product that sates your
own familys cravings, but a highly valued barter item.
Beekeeping is a hobby you can start now. Even a small urban lot
can provide the nominal amount of space required for a hive (Check
your local regulations first this is not legal in every municipality.).
Get advice from other local beekeepers and do some research first.
You want to be sure your area has enough flowers to keep your bees
in pollen! Beekeeping is not terribly expensive. You will need:
- Bees and
a hive (can be ordered by mail)
- A smoker
Honey has many
nutritional and medicinal benefits as well. It has wound healing
properties, is antibacterial and is an excellent cough remedy.
Stevia is a natural, low-calorie sweetener that has a slight black
is native to South America. The shrub likes well drained, sandy
soil and a warmer climate, but you can also cultivate stevia plants
indoors. Harvest all of the leaves from the plant and dry them in
full sun for about 12 hours or place the plants on a piece of newspaper
in an area with good air circulation. Once the leaves are thoroughly
dried, they can then be ground into a powder using a mortar and
pestle or coffee grinder. A home dehydrator can also be used, although
sun drying is the preferred method. This produces a flavor far sweeter
than sugar (30 times sweeter, in fact), so adjust your recipes to
use smaller amounts. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 heaping tablespoon
for every one cup of sugar in terms of the level of sweetness.
You can also
make your own stevia simple syrup by adding a cup of warm water
to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely-crushed stevia leaves. This mixture
should set for 24 hours and then be refrigerated. It works perfectly
for sweetening beverages.
If you happen to live in an area where you are blessed with maple
trees, you have a delicious natural sweetener just waiting for you
to harvest and process it.
There is only
one ingredient in maple syrup, and that is the sap from a maple
tree. As temperatures begin to warm up in the spring, the sap begins
running. A small hole, just an inch and a half deep, is drilled
in the tree and a fitting called a spile is inserted
and tapped into the hole. From the spile, the sap is directed into
a collection bucket. Once the sap is collected it must be processed
immediately to prevent spoilage.
It takes a
lot of sap to make maple syrup. The ratio is about 10 gallons of
sap to make 1 quart of syrup.
your maple sap, you must boil it to evaporate the water that it
contains. This can take many hours. Because of all the steam that
is produced, most people boil the sap outdoors. Then the syrup must
be carefully filtered, using a coffee filter.
Tap My Trees goes into minute detail with instructions for making
your own maple syrup at home, without a lot of fancy equipment.
Click here for more information.
A long-time cash crop in the South, most sorghum produced now is
turned into feed for livestock.
a very useful crop that can be used for much more than making syrup.
Sorghum seeds can be removed from the head and treated much like
wheat, ground and used as a grain (If you are on a gluten-free diet,
sorghum is safe for you.).
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joined the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999 Tess
worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and
is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response.
You can follow her regular updates on Preparedness,
and a host of other topics at ReadyNutrition.com.
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