I’m continuing my journey to consider some of the pantry basics (beyond meat, eggs, dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables) that I will want to have available in the event of TEOTWAWKI. I am resolved that I will ideally be able to make these items myself but in researching them I know I may find it necessary to either store them indefinitely in large quantity and have some alternatives available, and/or have a local/regional source for obtaining in barter.
So far, I’ve dug deep into the use, science, history, manufacturing, and storage of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and discovered that I will need to store it until the mines for soda ash are activated and some basic manufacturing and distribution of baking soda begun again. I also learned that there are a few alternatives to baking soda, though they’re far from ideal. Pearlash (potassium carbonate) is one of those. Pearlash is a bit troublesome to make and has a bitter aftertaste, plus I’m curious about the health implications. According to King Arthur Bread:
On this side of the Atlantic the early colonists were blessed with hardwood forests as far as the eye could see. Aside from being a logical building material and fuel, hardwoods provided another important resource, ashes. Ashes were a major export two hundred years ago, both to Canada and Britain. They were valuable for sweetening gardens and providing lye for making soap. They were also a source of potash and its derivative, pearlash, another creative leavening agent.
To make pearlash, you first have to make potash which itself is made from lye. To make lye, you pass water through a barrel of hardwood ashes over and over until an egg can float on the residue. (To make soap you boil this “lye water” with lard or other fat until it is thick, pour it into molds and harden it into cakes.) To make potash, you evaporate lye water until you have a solid.
Pearlash is a purified version of potash. It is an alkaline compound which will react with an acidic ingredient such as sour milk, buttermilk or molasses to produce carbon dioxide bubbles, the very same thing that yeast produces. Pearlash was used primarily in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but because of its bitter aftertaste, it not only did not replace yeast but was eventually replaced by saleratus.”
The above website has summarized information on other quick bread alternatives that I also found in my research elsewhere. You may enjoy reading it. I found this website’s information about baking powder interesting as well. However, I do not use double-acting baking powder, due to the neurological health risks of aluminum, which is an ingredient in double-acting baking powder. In this, I very much agreed with the website and appreciated their suggestion for people concerned with this factor to make their own single-acting baking powder using baking soda and cream of tartar. My recipe is slightly different and depends upon the food in which it is being used. King Arthur Flour says,
Since baking powder does tend to lose its leavening powder after a while, rather than being caught empty handed, it’s useful to have baking soda and cream of tartar around in separate containers. Then you can make your own baking powder in an emergency. These are both available separately at your grocery and, separated, have an indefinite shelf life. To make the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of double acting baking powder, mix 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (two parts of cream of tartar to one of baking soda). This single acting backing powder will work very successfully but you must remember that when you use it, get whatever you’re baking into the oven right away.
Then, last week, I shared some of uses for, health benefits of, and methods for making vinegar as well as shared resources for learning more. Details for making apple cider vinegar were given. We’ve used several types of vinegar this week, and I’m so glad to have it on hand! After reading more about vinegars, I’m now intrigued with someday trying to make new kinds of vinegars than the usual apple cider vinegar. Maybe I’ll try some rice vinegar or eventually get brave enough to venture into wine vinegar or even balsamic vinegar! If I want to have it indefinitely, I need to know how to make it. So it needs to go on my “to be learned and practiced before TEOTWAWKI” list.
Spiritual Nourishment From This Week’s Pantry Item- Yeast
There is great wisdom in the Bible verse found in Deuteronomy 8:3 “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Our family regularly gives thanks to God for our food and even specifically for the bread that He provides, because everything we eat comes out of the ground or was fed by what comes out of the ground and is sustained by the water and the sun provided by our Creator. Life itself is from Him! Furthermore, He gave us His Word so that we might have abundant life.
His Word teaches us and the Word who became flesh (Jesus/Yeshua) and who died to fulfill the covenant that redeems us also models for us how we are to live. He used bread and leavening in His teachings as well as wine (which is made with yeast/leavening also), and I want to talk about bread and leavening a bit as part of my lesson on pantry prepping because I just cannot pass up the opportunity to share something far more valuable than physical food. I pray that this spiritual food takes hold and is meaningful to you to nourish your soul before we move on to the physical.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:9-11
In Deuteronomy 8:3, bread is referenced as a means for sustaining life. I have a few family members who, when fresh bread comes out of the oven, behave as if their lives are dependent upon consuming that warm, fresh bread and say they could almost live on it. I happen to know that one is a meat and potatoes guy, too, and I may be slightly exaggerating their enthusiasm over the bread, but we all most certainly look forward to it coming out of the oven and expect to have it with our dinners. There is something so very attractive to fresh yeast bread, and when it is made from fresh whole, healthy grains it contains a wealth of nutrients and fiber and even protein to sustain us. Even fresh, unleavened bread is very appealing. Freshness matters a great deal! When my daughter told me about a restaurant she enjoys recently, her comment was simply about their fresh, hot rolls rather than their entrees or desserts or anything else. Stale bread is nothing to talk about, but fresh baked bread sure is. We all know that stale bread requires a considerable amount of addition flavor, such a garlic, herbs, and parsley, and effort to make it tasty or useful in the form of croutons or breadcrumbs.
Jesus is our perfect example of Godliness and righteousness. He was humble and meek but not the tiniest bit ignorant or weak. He began to teach the teachers at a young age and was a carpenter’s son who braided a wipe to drive out the money changers from the Temple’s Court of the Gentiles, where they had no business occupying, transacting business, and certainly not interfering with/distracting the worship that was supposed to be carried on in this area (though the Pharisees/Sadducees did not permit it). Jesus was fresh in staying true to the instructions of the Word and lived it as the “Word made flesh”. He was life-giving and life-sustaining, and as His followers, we are to be about that work also!
Jesus was obedient to consume the unleavened Passover bread and remember the redemption of the Israelites when God heard their cries and delivered them from the oppression of Egypt. Before the Israelites left Egypt, they were instructed to rid their homes of leavening. We are taught that this removal of leavening signifies a cleaning of our hearts to humble ourselves before God and to seek out the most remote parts to repent of any hidden sin or rebellion or pride that might be hidden and as we go about our “Spring Cleaning”. We should leave our state of oppression in sin (Egypt) and enter into God’s fresh kingdom through Jesus’ redemptive work with a pure heart, and we should periodically re-examine every remote part to clean out anything that might be growing in hidden places, such as rebellion or pride or any injustice. It is a good and practical physical exercise to clean and most definitely an excellent spiritual one to clean our hearts! I have found that when I take the time to think and pray, God is faithful to expose their hidden parts that need light shined on them so I can repent of them, make restitution, and adjust my way to move forward in freedom and hope. It’s such a delight to receive this forgiveness and release that bondage that I sometimes didn’t even know had crept into my life.
Historically, all of the people who chose to leave Egypt with Moses and honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were instructed to annually clean their homes of leavening and for seven days eat only unleavened bread in remembrance of this salvation. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins with and follows Passover, is one of the instructed feasts of the Lord that Jesus and His apostles kept, and it is unleavened bread that is also used at Passover and that Jesus used as He asked His disciples to remember Him when they ate of it. So, clearly, there is great significance in unleavened bread as a reminder to us of our salvation and particularly of our Savior and His sacrifice for us as the Passover Lamb!
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” Exodus 14:13
The word “salvation” in the above verse is the word “Yeshua”, which is transliterated to “Jesus”, though it is not capitalized in the AKJV translation for a reason unknown to me. The Hebrew language does not have upper and lower case, so this appears to me to have been at the discretion of the translators. It touches my heart to think of Jesus, each year of His life, remembering the Passover with His family and with His friends and disciples, listening to and reading the Scripture where His very name is used to declare the freedom from the people’s oppression in Egypt, and to know that in the future He would be the Lamb slain to fulfill the covenant of redemption that the first Passover Lamb only signified. He followed the commandment to keep the appointed times, including Passover and the Feasts of the Lord, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The basic instructions regarding removing the leavening and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were that it was for seven days, and everyone, whether born in the land, of the bloodline, or a stranger, needed to participate in order to worship God:
“Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.” Exodus 12:19
…to begin in Abib (the spring), the 15th of Nisan:
“The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.” Exodus 34:18
“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.” Leviticus 23:6
…for God’s people to remember all the days of “thy life”:
“Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.” Deuteronomy 16:3
…one of the three feasts God commanded all the men appear at the Temple with an offering for Him:
“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:” Deuteronomy 16:16
… Jesus and His disciples and apostles kept the feast and Passover:
“Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” Matthew 26:17-18
…Jesus referenced the deeper meaning beyond remembrance of the symbolism of leavening and applied it to two largest religious organizations of the day:
“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” “How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?” Matthew 16:6,11
We keep our homes clean and should also keep our hearts clean, because a little sin grows and spreads, just like yeast. The lesson from these teachings about yeast relate to how yeast grows. A little pride and power can grow until we can find ourselves adding to God’s Word in ways He did not intend, like what we read occurred with the Pharisees and Sadducees. We, too, must be careful not to become boastful and arrogant in our traditions or thinking so as to become stale, old, harsh, and man-derived in our worship or theology but rather can approach fresh, alive, and humble in complete submission before our God and true to His Word.
Remember that nothing we store or purchase or even learn is guaranteed to bring about our security. Everything is at God’s mercy, including our memories, physical abilities, and the ability to focus on tasks. Some of our friends who have not so long ago faced hurricanes have shared with us their lessons learned. More recently, we have seen and prayed for those around us affected by various tragedies caused by heavy snows collapsing buildings and leaving people homeless and/or unemployed and floods damaging bridges and homes. Then, just in the last week or so we have watched and prayed over Oroville, California’s dam and the in-coming storm, “Lucifer”, (what an awful name!) which is threatening heavy rains that could push the lake and dam beyond limits, causing potential massive damage and even great loss of life. I feel compassion for those who have had to be evacuated and returned, and those who have lived with the anxiety over the condition of the spill way and worried that if they leave too soon thieves will take their home’s remaining possessions. The National Guard is now there, I hear, but they’ve caused other concerns with misinformation that caused panic. Remembering all of this, we do what we can and we remain humble in not only our physical preparedness but also in our faith and relationships. None of us is the perfection of Jesus, except for receiving His forgiveness and cleansing power. We must pursue righteousness and seek to walk in His ways!
Once we have taken the time to go through the exercise of a spiritual spring cleaning to repent of pride and any hidden sin and we get back to the basics of His Word and putting Him above all others in our lives and in our minds, as God demands in the first portions of His Ten Commandments, we will begin to have a fresher and closer relationship to our Creator. Life then becomes sweeter and more abundant and we are able to spread joy, love, and hope.
Yeast is itself not sin, as God instructed for leavened bread to be given as a sacrificial peace offering in His tabernacle/temple; however, it is the properties of yeast– the rapid growth and spread to affect what is around it– that is similar to sin, which festers and grows and spreads to have greater affect upon the sinner and others around the sinner, especially when it is allowed to remain in dark, hidden places. It is these very properties of rapid growth and spread to affect what is around it that make yeast useful for bread making and brewing. So, next week I’ll share more about God’s creation of yeast, a little history, and how to capture and use wild yeast.