Friday, July 11, 2008

Sugars in Your Pantry - Or Not?

There may be two drastically different ways of viewing sugars today. One could be caused by the economy and the skyrocketing prices, where you must decide if bread or sugar goes onto the shopping list. The other one could be influenced by your view of nutrition.

First, a view of sugar from the pantry, sugar stores well. The rule of thumb is granulated sugars needs to be kept dry and brown sugars need to be kept moist. This means an airtight container with a tight fitting lid. One word of caution, I have discovered that brown sugar kept in metal cans sometimes causes rust to form because of the moisture and can taint the taste of the sugar. Should you choose metal, make sure it has a food grade finish inside of the container, (such as commercially made canisters) with no chips, cracks or dents.

However, syrups, molasses and honey are sugars also. Therefore, a similar pantry rule applies. They must be kept in airtight containers or they could pick up molds from the air and other substances that can spoil the whole batch. The cooler the pantry or cupboard area, the longer the shelf life is for the syrup family.

Whether or not you will be buying in bulk for a pantry shelf will most likely be determined by your budget and whether or not the prices you are used to paying are now so high that sugar has become a luxury reserved for the Christmas holiday baking - maybe. However, the consistency rule can be applied here. Buying even a small amount, consistently, will add up. Yes, admit it, it most likely will take a few more paydays than you would like to accumulate the amount of sugar you need for preserves, baking or whatever. And yes again, it will cost more! That’s why you need to learn the meaning of budget stretching and positive buying, or is that positive thinking? It’s called the “thrill of the hunt,” and can be fun. Budget for it, paying the best price that you can find at the time. If you are aware that the local supermarket will be having a case lot sale in the near future, ask the store manager if one of the items to be offered at a real sale price will be sugar. If so, save your budget stretching dollar amounts until that sale to buy your sugar. (Remember the discussion on price recognition to help you know if it really is a sale price?)

Then we need to look at the other view of the story, which sometimes has the headline, “Don’t buy it!” Of course, meaning the awful product of sugar – actually, refined, granulated sugars.
Lately, this seems to be the hue and cry that is repeatedly being heard and read everywhere one turns. (But - where would tollhouse chocolate chip cookies be without sugar?)

However, once again, you must decide how much or how little, as well as what kind of sugars you will or won’t use. The following list can be used as a guideline to assist you in being able to read labels as you make those buying or stocking-up decisions.

Before you buy read the label. These are some of the names of sugars used in foods: sugar, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, sorbitol, fructose, maltose, lactose, manitol, turbinado, honey, corn syrup, molasses, and maple syrup.

And wouldn’t you know it, chocolate has sugar in it too! Oh well, that’s one more buying decision I don’t have to make. Well, white chocolate or milk, chocolate that would be the decision.

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