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Buying, Storing and Using Alternative Sweeteners: A Guest Post

While I’m not the healthiest nut in the bowl, I am trying. Late last year a doctor’s physical revealed that I needed to make some changes in our family’s diet. So, I’ve been reading and researching about food and what’s good, what’s bad. One thing that we’ve incorporated into our pantry is sucanat, dehydrated sugar cane juice. It’s a splurge for me, but now that Stephanie  from Keeper of the Home is sharing how to buy it inexpensively, I’m sold more than ever. A mother of three and an enthusiast about healthy cooking, Stephanie is a great person to share these tips.

raw sugar

Image by joyosity

No pantry would be complete without something sweet.

Just because you use sweeteners, though, doesn’t mean that they can’t be healthier choices! Personally, I choose to use mostly raw honey and unrefined cane sugar (either Sucanat or Rapadura) as my sweeteners of choice.

But aren’t they incredibly expensive? What place can they have in a frugal pantry?

I like saving money just as much as anyone, but not at the expense of health. I’ve learned that by buying my sweeteners in bulk, I am able to satisfy both needs.

Through a natural foods co-op, I purchase my honey in 1 Gallon tubs. I get my Sucanat (raw sugar) in 50 lb sacks. These might seem like crazy amounts to be buying, but the savings are significant. With both sweeteners, buying in bulk like this allows me to pay about 1/2 of what they would cost if I were to buy them in regular grocery store sized amounts.

Not sure of where to buy in bulk? Local Harvest is a fantastic website that can help you to locate a natural food co-op in your area. If this option isn’t available to you, try asking your local health food store whether they’ll sell to you in bulk amounts at a discount (many will). Another great option is to purchase online, even through somewhere like Amazon.com’s Natural Groceries department. When there’s a will, there’s a way!

full-length-pantry

Storing your Sweeteners

The best way that I have found to store bulk sweeteners is like this:

  • 1 sugar bowl/honey jar in my seasonings cabinet, for quick and easy access
  • 1 gallon of honey and a 1 gallon container of raw sugar in my kitchen pantry for baking and cooking needs (that’s my pantry in the photo)
  • A large Rubbermaid container in my garage, containing bags and buckets of the rest of my 50 lbs of sugar. If you have extra honey, store it in a warmer place, so that it doesn’t crystallize (a closet, perhaps).

Using Alternative Sweeteners

As a general rule of thumb, I substitute raw sugar at a 1:1 ratio in all of my baking and cooking. Yes, the taste is slightly different than white sugar (deep flavor with hints of molasses/caramel), but I find it substitutes very well and it produces wonderful baking results.

honey

Image by Siona Watson

Honey is a little trickier, as it is a liquid and it will cause baked goods to darken slightly faster. See my post on using honey for baking, for more precise tips on how to substitute it and adjust a recipe accordingly.

In other foods (like smoothies, hot beverages, oatmeal, etc.) honey can be easily added in place of sugar. Just keep in mind that it is almost twice as sweet. I usually cut down the amount required by 1/2 when I use honey, and then I can sweeten in more to taste.

If you’d like to try using honey yourself, here is our family’s favorite Baked Oatmeal breakfast recipe.

What types of sweeteners do YOU use? Do you like to stock up on them by buying in bulk, and if so, how do you store it?

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Comments

  1. Jamie and Emily says:

    Hi, I am just learning about natural sweeteners and am a little confused- is there a difference between rapadura and sucanat, such as health benefits, flavor or baking results? thanks so much!

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