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By Kellene Bishop

Honey photo c/o Getty

Honey photo c/o Getty

My drug of choice?  Well, I could say chocolate, or a Dr. Pepper, or even a sweet kiss from my hubby (those make my knees buckle).  But there’s nothing like a small spoonful of honey to put me in a happy, delicious mood.  Seriously.  Perhaps it’s because each time I steal a taste, I’m not just tasting the substance of honey, but its overwhelming value everyday, and in an emergency.  Honey not only tastes good, but it has numerous medicinal and comfort uses as well.  You know me, I love items that have multiple uses.  Honey is one of the super stars of my food storage AND first-aid supplies.

For starters, honey has an infinite shelf life.  As an emergency preparedness pro, I LOVE items that have an infinite shelf life.  Even if it hardens and is crystallized, it’s still perfectly good.  All you need to do is warm it up if you’re using it to drizzle on your toast.  I frequently just dump my “crystallized honey” directly in my bread dough without heating it up again.

Alexandria Catacomb photo c/o touregypt.net

Alexandria Catacomb photo c/o touregypt.net

But there’s more to the reason why honey was bartered just like silver and gold was for centuries and long considered a nectar to the gods.  Honey is rich in history of medicinal uses.  Researchers believe that it’s as a result of its many medicinal uses why honey was found in many catacombs and pyramids.  (Along with wheat, of course, that was still good.)  History has recorded honey as being the most widely used medicinal substance—particularly in the annals of Egypt.  Even during the First World War, it was used mixed with cod liver oil to treat wounds.

Honey is also an antibacterial agent.  The reason being is that it has low water content and high acidity content.  Bacteria and microorganisms can’t flourish and grow in honey.  Thus it’s a lot like hydrogen peroxide.  Mind you, the HP is a heck of a lot less expensive if you were going to use it specifically for that purpose, but HP can actually irritate and even burn some skin tissue.  It’s interesting to note that honey and hydrogen peroxide are actually closely related.  Why?  Because honey also contains a substance called glucose oxidase.  When combined with water and oxygen, glucose oxidase forms gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide.  Yup.  The very same stuff that you can get for a buck a bottle at the pharmacy. This reinforces the antiseptic effect of honey but is less damaging or irritating to skin tissue.  But, I also look at the health benefits of the food I feed to others in which I used honey.  Consider that I’m feeding and fighting at the same time.

Local Honey photo c/o timeinthekitchen.com

Local Honey photo c/o timeinthekitchen.com

If you have allergies, ingest honey from local farmers.  It will help you develop resistance to the nasty pollens that are flaring up your allergies in the first place.  The interesting thing is when you combine honey with water (such as for a sore throat) it produces the NECESSARY bacteria for human health, not the yucky bacteria (yes, I just said “yucky).  Unlike hydrogen peroxide though, honey is actually very good for burn care and is definitely less expensive than the other burn treatment contraptions out there.  There are bacteria in the digestive system that are actually aided by the chemical make-up of honey.  This is why you may have heard of honey helping with colitis symptoms as well.  

As a food, honey is one highly underestimated substance indeed.  Did you know that honey isn’t just a sugar?  It actually contains protein, iron, important enzymes, and Vitamin C.  And, as opposed to sugar, humans are not inclined to over eat honey.  It doesn’t affect your body like the drug of sugar does—making you crave more, the more you eat it.

If I had to rely on only four foods in my food storage, honey would definitely be one of the key players.  (Because I know I’ll get emails on it, the other three foods would be powdered milk, salt, and wheat.)  If I can get my hands on Snow White honey, I do at every opportunity.  It should be stored in its granulated or crystallized state until ready to use.  I also like using the Blue Chip Foods brand of their powdered honey.  It’s a bit more convenient to use in my recipes when I’m in a hurry and I don’t use nearly as much of it as I would sugar.  (Usually about only half to a third of the amount of sugar a recipe calls for.)  I recommend that you only store raw honey, not processed honey.  In actuality, processed honey is more at risk for botulism in all ages.

Munaka Bush from New Zealand photo c/o nzplantpics.com

Munaka Bush from New Zealand photo c/o nzplantpics.com

Do I have an ulterior motive in writing you about honey today?  Well, the Swine flu has been on my mind, of course, and I’ve been studying alternative uses to aid in the spread and ill effects of Swine flu.  It’s interesting to discover that there is a unique honey called Manuka honey that is made from the flowers of the Manuka bush in New Zealand.  This particular honey has been researched and is believed to have a special component which helps fight “super bugs” which are resistant to many types of antibiotics.  While I’m not suggesting that you all spend hordes of money on the internet to obtain Manuka honey, I am suggesting to incorporate honey into your food storage supplies because of its tasty adaptation in any recipe that calls for sugar as well as the safe medicinal effects it has on the body. 

One caveat here.  As a general rule, honey should not be fed to a child under the age of one year old.  Their immune systems aren’t able to handle the pores inherent in honey and could contract botulism.  However, beyond that you will find honey to be an effective laxative, stomach ache cure, and aiding against colic as well.

Here are some medicinal honey recipes:

  • Stomach Ache: Mix one teaspoon of honey, juice of ½ lemon with a hot glass of water.  Due to it’s diuretic effect, it’s better to use this method first thing in the morning.
  • Coughs and Colds: Mix 6 oz. liquid honey, 2 oz. glycerin with juice of 2 lemons.  Bottle and seal firmly.  Use as necessary.  You can’t “overdose” on this particular cough medicine.
  • Sore Throats: Allow 1 teaspoon of honey melt in the back of the mouth and trickle down the throat.  This will ease inflamed, raw tissues.
  • Insomnia: Honey helps in nervous disorders including insomnia and acts as a tonic in recovery of any damage to the human nervous system.  Mix one teaspoon of honey in a cup of luke-warm water.  Drink before going to bed.  Obviously, it’s a lot less expensive and safer than Tylenol PM.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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bottling-butterBy Kellene Bishop

June 12, 2007.  That was a day I experienced a moment of euphoria as a concern of mine had just been satisfied completely.  That was the day I discovered you could bottle butter.  It was a very, very happy day for me, until I began doing research on it.  There were an abundance of comments surfacing on the internet stating that bottling butter simply wasn’t safe because it was “impossible” to get rid of any botulism.  My joy was squashed.  But after speaking to many lifetime emergency preparedness folks who swore that bottling butter was just fine, I decided to do more research on the matter.  The good news is I’ve decided to fully embrace bottling butter.  The thought of butter on my homemade wheat bread, even in the midst of a crisis, is just too enticing to pass up.  So here’s how I’ve come up with my rationale for bottling butter in spite of what some information on the internet has said.

1)      History: I interviewed no less than TWENTY individuals who have been bottling butter and using it without any instances of illness or food poisoning.  Most of these individuals have been bottling butter for longer than a decade.  The key is to use clean and sanitized jars and lids as well as to bring the butter up to the boiling point. (Instructions follow)

2)      The Source of the Bottled Butter Controversy: The bottom line is that oxygen and bacteria are the primary culprits in the deterioration of foods.  Just as fire can’t live without oxygen, bacteria doesn’t do so well without it either.  The bottling butter process eliminates oxygen from the butter.  However, nothing—not the canning of any item—can  be certain to  “kill” botulism.  You simply need to make sure that you do not provide a source for botulism in the first place.

Botulism is a muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinum.  Such bacteria are commonly found in soil.  Butter is not a substance harvested from soil.  Additionally, instances of botulism have been mostly eradicated in the U.S.  Each year, the CDC records roughly 25 cases of food borne botulism poisoning.  Most of the findings originate in some fermented whale and other traditional foods prepared by Alaska natives.  There has not been a case of commercially prepared foods containing botulism since the early 1970s.  (Click here for a link of warning)

I have found that the majority of those who state that bottling butter is dangerous are relying primarily on a report issued by the USDA as linked for you above.  In other words, the primary entity stating NOT to bottle your own butter is the Department of Agriculture.  While I may sound a bit like a rebel, I don’t give that much stock.  After all, the FDA, Surgeons General, etc., have made a whole lot of big mistakes over the years such as “smoking IS NOT hazardous”, “Laetrile will not help with cancer”, “Ephedrine is perfectly safe”, just to name a few.  I’ve found that a great deal of “government studies” always tend to benefit the person who’s paying for the study.  Clearly it would not be financially beneficial to the commercial dairy manufacturers if folks were bottling their own butter. 

While you’ll have to make this decision for yourself, I for one will be bottling my own butter and stocking up on it any time I can get it for less than $1.50 a pound.  After all, does the USDA tell you that you can store cheese on your own for 25 years, or that you can store “fresh” eggs for 9 months?  I think not.  And yet I KNOW that these methods work.  I’ve also seen several “butter storing” canisters for sale on the shelves at kitchens supply stores.  Again, the concept is that you can store the butter on your counter by eliminating the oxygen that gets into it.

I have a confession to make.  I keep my butter on the counter by the toaster for when I have toast.  I don’t refrigerate it.  I’ve done it ever since I was a little kid, ’cause that’s just what Mom and Grandma did.  I’ve NEVER gotten food poisoning—ever.

When it comes to using your bottled butter, I have a recommendation.  In an emergency situation where you’re having to make your supplies last for “who knows how long” I don’t recommend using your bottled butter for anything other than buttering.  Applesauce, pie fillings, oils, and so many other items will suffice as substitues in your other baking and cooking endeavors.  So don’t think that you have to bottle enough butter to use in everything to last you for a year.  Save the butter moments for when it really counts.

Here are the bottled butter instructions.  You’ll see that they are VERY easy.

  • As an extra precaution, I place all of my jars, rings (no seals), utensils, pots, funnel, etc., that I am going to use for this project out in my solar oven for about 30 minutes at 200 to 250 degrees so that they are all sanitized.
  • You can use any butter available, but I don’t recommend bottling margarine.   The less quality of butter that you buy will take a little bit more “shaking’ but I’ll get to that later.  The results are the same regardless of how much you spend on the butter.
  • (One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars.  A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.)
  • Heat up your clean, pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals.
  • While the jars are heating in your oven, melt your unwrapped butter slowly in a pot on your stove until it comes to a slow boil.  DO NOT DO THIS IN THE MICROWAVE.  Be sure that the pot you are using is EXTRA clean and sanitized.  (I always like to make sure the pot I use has gone through the sanitize cycle of my dishwasher or the sanitation recommendation above.)  Boil the butter for 5 minutes like this.  Using a clean utensil, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching.  When you rest the utensil, be certain that it is NOT placed on any area that may have germs.  Being sure to do a slow boil will make the necessary shaking time shorter.
  • Place the rings and lids in a pot boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until needed.  Use tongs to pull them out of the water to avoid burning your hands.
  • Once the butter is finished boiling, remove it from the heat.  Using a ladle or small measuring cup, scoop the butter from the pan and pour it into the jars.  I like using a funnel to ensure I don’t leave a mess.   Fill the jars leaving a ¾ inch of head space in the jar.  This allows room for the shaking process.
  • Wipe off the top of the jars with a clean, sanitized towel or wash cloth. Place a hot lid and ring on the jar.  Secure lids.  The lids will seal as they cool.  Once a few lids “ping,” shake the entire jar while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle safely.  You are doing this because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom.  You want to blend it as much as possible while it cools.  Repeat this every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes.  You will begin to see a the same consistency in the entire jar.
  • Now place your jars into the refrigerator.  While they are cooling and hardening, shake again every 5 to 10 minutes for a half hour.  The butter will begin to look like firm butter.  Be sure that you don’t skip this step as the final shaking is very important!  Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar.  Leave the jars in the fridge for a total of one hour.

Canned butter will store for 3 to 5 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf.  I’ve had butter as “old as 7 years” with no problems or compromise in taste.  Know that your bottled butter will not re-melt after you’ve bottled it so you won’t need to refrigerate it after opening (yet another plus, in my book), though you should still plan on using it up within a reasonable amount of time.

Ultimately, if you don’t want to bottle butter, you can store it in your freezer and then use it up if your electricity dies.  If you decide that THEN would be a good time to try to bottle the butter after all, you can do so with a solar oven or simply by the power of the sun in your backyard.  But that’s another story.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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