Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homemade Coconut Oil Toothpaste

Homemade Toothpaste made with Golden Barrel Coconut Oil

If you are familiar with coconut oil, then you have heard about how healthful it is considered to be. You may also have heard that there are a ton of uses for it beyond the obvious cooking and baking applications. One of the uses that has been trending recently is what is called “oil pulling.” Oil pulling is a technique which has apparently been used for thousands of years where people put a spoonful of healthy oils such as coconut oil in their mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes a day. The supposed benefits include: whiter teeth, stronger gums, removal of toxins, as well as improvements in headaches, acne, diabetes, asthma as well as others. There are even stories of people who have stopped brushing their teeth all together in favor of oil pulling and even claimed it has healed their cavities.

I was curious about it and did try oil pulling with coconut oil a few times. Although, I didn't necessarily hate it, its not for everyone. In other words, it takes time and patience. I did, however, recently hear of another use for coconut oil: homemade toothpaste. Making homemade toothpaste interested me because I love to find new uses for our Golden Barrel products. Plus it is ultimately cheaper than buying toothpaste and you have full control over the ingredients which do not have to contain unnecessary chemicals or preservatives. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in most store bought toothpastes? Well I just did and when you can’t pronounce the names, chances are that it is a something not good for you. Plus there are some alarming warnings on the back that most people just tend to ignore. 

Here is the ingredient list from the current toothpaste tube in my bathroom: 
Hydrated silica, water, glycerin, sorbitol, PVM/MA copolymer, sodium lauryl sulfate, flavor, cellulose gum, sodium hydroxide, propylene glycol, carrageenan, sodium sacharin, mica, FD&C blue no. 1, D&C yellow no. 10.
Warnings - Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.  
I don't know about you, but its kind of scary that we think nothing of putting something with a Poison Control warning in our mouths.

Since our company produces Golden Barrel Coconut Oil, I thought homemade coconut oil toothpaste would be worth a try. After doing some research online, I decided on this simple formula:

Ingredients for Homemade Toothpaste made with Golden Barrel Coconut Oil

  • 4 tablespoons - Golden Barrel Coconut Oil
  • 4 tablespoons - Baking Soda
  • 1-2 packets - Stevia
  • 10-20 drops - Essential Oil (I used Cinnamon Oil but I am sure it can be substituted for any others.)

Melt the coconut oil on the stove or in the microwave. If melting on the stove, place in a small bowl and heat with medium heat inside a pan of water. 
Melting the Golden Barrel Coconut Oil

Add melted coconut oil into your container which already contains the previously added baking soda.
Adding Golden Barrel Coconut Oil

Add the packets or 1-2 teaspoons of Stevia.
Adding the Stevia

Add essential oil for flavor.
Adding the Essential Oil

 Finally, stir all the ingredients together with a small spoon. 
Mixing the Toothpaste made with Golden Barrel Coconut Oil

The paste will somewhat harden in the jar depending on room temperature so a spoon or a Popsicle stick can be used to dig it out and spread on the toothbrush.

Consistency of the Toothpaste

This simple toothpaste formula literally took about 5 minutes to whip together and contains things that you may already have in your cupboard. 

Functions of the ingredients:
The coconut oil has great antibacterial properties since it is high in lauric acid. Remember, many "oil pullers" swear by it. Baking soda also has many health claims and uses and has commonly been known to clean and whiten teeth. It also neutralizes the bacteria-loving acids in your mouth. Stevia (a natural sweetener that does not raise blood insulin levels) is simply used as a sweetener to help mask the baking soda flavor. The essential oil adds flavor and also additional antibacterial properties to the toothpaste. You may have to add more sweetener and/or essential oils to adjust the flavor according to your liking. 

How did it perform?
After I made up the formula, I was eager to try it. The taste was not the same as regular toothpaste and I did actually go back and add some more Stevia to sweeten it up a bit. The texture was also a little different but just took some getting used to. However, as far as a teeth cleaner, I was impressed. My teeth and gums felt very clean and continued to throughout the day. They honestly felt cleaner than when I used the unnamed toothpaste above. I then had my wife also try it and she said the same thing. We even, surprisingly, were able to get my 4 year old son to use it.

Considering that no chemicals or preservatives were used, it contains only healthful and edible ingredients, and that it really works; I would definitely recommend it.

So why not give it a try! We would love to hear about your experience using our coconut oil to make toothpaste or even try oil pulling. Let us know what you think or if you have any suggestion on how to make it better. 

As for me, I plan on continuing to use it for a while. We'll see what the dentist says in a few months ;)

Mitch (from Golden Barrel)
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Barrel Molasses

Although molasses is a sweetener that has been around for well over a thousand years, many people do not realize the history, usefulness, and healthfulness of this thick, viscous syrup. In fact, the only thing that most people know about molasses is that it moves very slowly hence the popular phrase "slow as molasses." Through this post, we want to give molasses the credit that it deserves by providing some key information and answering some customer frequently asked questions specifically for our Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses and Golden Barrel Blackstrap Molasses.

Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses
Photo of Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses taken from The Lass in the Apron

What exactly is molasses anyway?
By definition, molasses is the thick dark syrup that is produced by boiling down juice from sugar cane or sugar beets especially during sugar refining. In other words, it is what is left over after the sugar crystals (table sugar) has been removed.

What is Golden Barrel Molasses made from?
All of our molasses is made from sugar cane.

What is unsulfured molasses?
Sometimes when molasses is extracted, a chemical called sulfur dioxide is used as a processing aid and preservative. It is used mainly when young or unripened stocks of sugar cane are used. Unsulfured molasses is made with mature sugar cane stocks without any sulfur dioxide or any other processing aids. Unsulfured molasses is considered more desirable since it is more natural and has a cleaner and purer taste. Also, some people are sensitive to the sulfur dioxide chemical.

All of our Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses and Blackstrap Molasses is 100% unsulfured.

What is the difference between Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses and Golden Barrel Blackstrap Molasses?
Our molasses comes from expeller-pressing sugar cane stocks producing a "cane juice syrup." The first and second series of boiling this sugar cane juice syrup results in a sweet sugary molasses that is used to make Supreme Baking Molasses. Supreme Baking Molasses is mostly used in baking things such as shoofly pie, bread, or cookies. (click here for some recipes using Supreme Baking Molasses from our Pinterest site)

The molasses is then boiled again until most of the sugar is removed resulting in a dark, thick and robust tasting molasses that is used to make Blackstrap Molasses. Blackstrap molasses is the most healthful molasses as most of the sugar has been processed out but the nutrients and minerals all still remain.

Both can be used for baking but will produce differing tastes in the final product. Generally, when a recipe calls for Molasses, it is referring to something like Supreme Baking Molasses. Blackstrap Molasses is used for recipes where a stronger flavor is desired such as baked beans.

Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses vs. Golden Barrel Blackstrap Molasses

Can I use molasses as a substitute for sugar?
Molasses can be substituted for sugar and other sweeteners in recipes. You will need to use 1 1/3 cups of Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses plus 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of sugar used. You will also need to cut back the amount of liquid used in the recipe by 1/3 cup per cup of sugar substituted so that the balance of moisture in the recipe is equal as molasses will add extra moisture.

We recommend experimenting with the substitution and not cutting back the full amount of sugar right away as molasses can change the taste of some recipes.

I am out of brown sugar, can I make my own using molasses?
If a recipe is calling for brown sugar, you can make your own by simply using 2 tablespoons of Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses per cup of white sugar to replace light brown sugar and 4 tablespoons per cup of white sugar to replace dark brown sugar. In most instances, you can add the molasses and sugar straight into the recipe to be mixed with the other ingredients.

Does your molasses need to be refrigerated?
Our molasses in retail sizes has a 4 year shelf and can be stored in a cool, dry place such as a regular cupboard or pantry. Refrigeration is not required.

What are some of the minerals found in molasses? 
Molasses is naturally loaded with minerals. Blackstrap Molasses contains more minerals than Supreme Baking Molasses because it is more concentrated as more sugar has been removed. Some of the minerals found in molasses are potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium as well as trace amounts of manganese, copper, and zinc.

What are the health benefits of taking Blackstrap Molasses?
There are many health benefits associated with taking blackstrap molasses as a health supplement. This is due to the numerous amount of minerals as mentioned above. We suggest doing your own Google research on the health benefits of molasses. Here is an example of some of the benefits from healthdiaries.com.

What are the ingredients in molasses?
There is only one ingredient in any of our molasses products: 100% sugar cane molasses. It is all natural and has no additives or preservatives.

Isn't Blackstrap Molasses only for animals?
Absolutely not! Despite what some sources may say on the internet, blackstrap molasses is frequently used for many human purposes including health supplementation as well as in baking. In fact, many large food companies use blackstrap molasses in many of the products that you may eat on a regular basis.

What sizes do you offer?
Both Golden Barrel Molasses' are made in retail sizes of 16 oz. (pint), 32 oz. (quart), and 128 oz. (gallon). We also sell molasses in bulk sizes such as pails, drums, totes, and tank loads.

Good Food, Inc. Truck
Bulk sizes of molasses can be delivered on one of our Good Food, Inc. trucks

As you can see, molasses offers a lot more than the connotation of just being "slow". Hopefully, this post helped give a better understanding of the importance and usefulness of our Golden Barrel Molasses products. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask us in the comments section.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Refined Coconut Oil to Treat Psoriasis?

There are many uses for coconut oil; one of them being an emollient (fancy word for moisturizer) for the skin. Recently, we have been informed of a few of our customers even using it to treat their skin disorders such as psoriasis.

Golden Barrel Coconut Oil works great as a moisturizer

Psoriasis is a common, reoccurring skin disease that is characterized by red, scaly patches, papules, and plaques, which usually itch. Apparently, the cause of psoriasis is still unknown but a possible cause could be when the immune system misinterprets a healthy skin cell for a pathogen and then attacks that cell by producing new cells with the intentions of destroying the pathogen. It may also be a result of an allergic reaction to foods or drugs or even stress. Whatever the cause, it can be quite unsightly, uncomfortable, and unpleasant.

Apparently, there is no known cure for the skin disease, but there are several methods used to treat the problem. One treatment that has become popular recently is the use of coconut oil. The method is to take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil internally daily whether directly on a spoon or mixed with other foods that you typically eat on a daily basis. Another more common treatment is to apply a small amount of solid coconut oil right on the affected area and rub it in 3 times per day. The solid oil will melt on the skin as it treats and soothes.

If you do research for psoriasis treatment with coconut oil, most internet sources will tell you to use virgin coconut oil since it is the least processed. However, does that mean that refined coconut oil is ineffective or shouldn't ever be used? The answer is no. Refined coconut oil contains exactly the same medium chain fatty acid composition as virgin coconut oil which includes lauric acid. Lauric acid, which is also found in breast milk, is great for the body as it provides antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal functions. The real concern is whether chemicals are used in the process. Click here for more information on how our Golden Barrel Coconut Oil is processed and here for more information on the debate between refined coconut oil verses virgin coconut oil.

Here are some testimonies from a few of our customers that have used Golden Barrel Refined Cocount Oil to treat their psoriasis:

Anonymous on July 26, 2014:
"For any psoriasis sufferers out there, this product is amazing. Just use a tiny bit, which is all that's needed. If you are in an area below 76 degrees, the solid just melts right into the skin. Within a day I noticed a huge improvement. HUGE."

Peg on August 14, 2014:
"Yes, yes YES!! I have been fighting psoriasis for years, and several years back now I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. I'm taking this as part of my nutrition regimen, and also applying to my plaque psoriasis. I made the mistake of using too much, but it was a minor mistake as I just rubbed it in further up my arms and down to my wrists, and on my shins and ankles as well as my knees and elbows where I meant to apply it. It liquifies nearly instantly at skin temperature, so work with a little TEENY bit, as you can always add more! I am applying twice a day, my knees are nearly CLEAR, and my elbows are vastly improved! I also am going to apply to my scalp on nights when I'm going to shampoo in the morning... Bonus - I love this for all my cooking needs! Just made up a batch of frosting, cut the butter by 2/3, and it's wonderful! LOVE IT!!"

Obviously, this is not a cure and we are not necessarily making any definite claims as some people may have better results than others from using coconut oil. However, we hope the above info and testimonials help you to make an informed decision on possible treatments. If you have tried or are planning to try using our Golden Barrel Coconut Oil to treat any skin conditions or just as a moisturizer in general, we would love to hear about it. Leave a comment for us and others to see how it worked for you. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Truth About Coconut Oil

Probably the product that we receive the most questions about from our customers these days has got to be our Golden Barrel Coconut Oil. Common questions are "How is it processed?" "Is it refined or virgin?" or "Can you substitute it for other cooking oils?" Hopefully, through this post we can answer these questions as well as provide some other interesting information about this increasingly popular oil.

Only a few years ago, coconut oil was falsely considered to be very unhealthy due to its high saturated fat content. A supposed study was done claiming that use of coconut oil led to high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity. This study was based on a loose test done on hydrogenated coconut oil and greatly pushed by other cooking oil organizations to move away from saturated fats and in turn use their products. Unfortunately, this economic push and public belief discredited and virtually eliminated coconut oil as a cooking oil in America. Only recently, have studies revealed that, trans fat created during hydrogenation is actually the main culprit causing heart disease and high cholesterol. Contrary to previous belief, not all saturated fats are unhealthy. In fact, most of the 90% saturated fat in coconut oil is medium-chain fatty acids which are found to be easily digested and quickly converted into energy.

Almost 50% of the fatty acid content of coconut oil is lauric acid which is a great enhancer for the body's immune system. In comparison, lauric acid is a main component of human breast milk which essentially protects children during infancy from illness. Another 7% of the fatty acids are capric acid which stimulates anti-viral activity in the body. Coconut fat is also believed to stimulate the metabolism and slow weight gain. An interesting article by Ray Peat can be found here which lists some examples of coconut oil being used by farmers in the 1940's to try and fatten their animals. The result was the opposite effect as the animals became "lean, active and hungry." For more information and a detailed look at the health benefits and anti-saturated fat agenda, please visit www.coconutoil.com.

Our coconut oil is considered refined (RBD) and not virgin. The most noticeable difference between the two is that refined coconut oil is bland to the taste and smell whereas virgin coconut oil has a distinct coconut taste and odor. The refined coconut oil is processed by pressing the dried coconut meat (copra). It is then purified with adsorbent clay, heat, and vacuums. After this, the oil is run through filters to remove any clay. It is then deodorized with a process of steam distillation, high heat, and vacuums. Next, it is filtered again before going into the final storage tank. After deodorization, a small amount of citric acid is added as a processing aid to the coconut oil for degumming purposes. Citric acid is considered worldwide to be a harmless food additive that is naturally found in citrus fruits. Finally, the oil is filtered two more times before being packaged. There are no solvents used or hydrogenation which produces trans fats. (NOTE: Virgin and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil are the same thing. There is no industry standard definition for virgin coconut oil as there is for olive oil.)

Golden Barrel Coconut Oil below 76°FGolden Barrel Coconut Oil above 76°F

A simple Google search on coconut oil will produce a lot of websites that tend to favor virgin coconut oil since it is less processed. Although virgin coconut oil has obviously undergone less treatment and therefore may have some extra polyphenols, refined coconut oil is still considered one of the most healthful and stable cooking oils that you can use.  In fact, many people prefer using refined over virgin for numerous reasons:
  • Virgin coconut oil adds a distinct coconut odor when using and taste to food that isn't always desirable and can even be revolting.
  • Some people experience nausea and diarrhea from consuming virgin and don't with refined.
  • Virgin coconut oil is usually far more expensive than refined.
  • Refined has exactly the same medium-chain fatty acids as virgin.
  • Refined offers a higher smoke point of 450°F where virgin is only 350°F making it ideal for frying.

Here is an excellent video for easy-to-make homemade french fries using refined coconut oil by Matt Stone. Check out Matt's post about refined coconut oil at www.180degreehealth.com. (Note: The fries taste great even without the truffle oil that is used. It is totally not necessary and very expensive.)

Using refined or virgin is a matter of preference, but either way coconut oil is a great option for many purposes. In addition to its stable shelf life, it works great as a cooking/frying oil and can be equally substituted for any other cooking oil. Coconut oil can be used in baked goods as a substitute for other oils, butter or shortening. It also performs wonderfully as a moisturizer and is very beneficial in soap making. Numerous soap makers use our Golden Barrel Coconut Oil when making their own soaps including Heritage Soaps who said on our Facebook page, "This Coconut Oil is the best -- I use it in all my soaps!" Check out their website, www.heritagesoapspa.com, for a wide variety of handmade soaps made on a local Lancaster County Farm.

So if you haven't tried coconut oil yet, why not make the switch. Your health and taste buds will thank you for it.

Update: 09/19/14
Here is a very interesting video about some of the supposed health benefits of coconut oil:

Here is another post about using coconut oil to treat psoriasis and Here is one for making Homemade Coconut Oil Toothpaste.

Golden Barrel
The Sweet Taste of Tradition

Friday, November 4, 2011

What's a Shoofly Pie?

If you are from Lancaster County, PA, then you are quite familiar with the taste of shoofly pies and all their gooey goodness. But for most people not familiar with Pennsylvania Dutch baking, you have either never heard of it or are turned off by its odd name. After all, who wants to eat something associated with flies?

Rest assured, shoofly pie, along with most Pennsylvania Dutch treats, is quite delicious.

There are a few theories as to how this pie got its unique name:

The most popular theory is when the early settlers came to North America, they brought with them such staples as flour, brown sugar, molasses, salt, shortening, and spices---a limited selection of items to create a shoofly pie. By filling a pie crust with a crumb and liquid mixture, they created a three-layer pie with a gooey bottom, cake-like middle, and a crumb topping. Baked and left to cool outside, these pies not only garnered rousing approval from the settlers, but a few flies buzzed around, too, giving this native East Coast dish its name.

Another possible theory was recently introduced by William Woys Weaver, author of Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking. Weaver claims that his grandmother, Miles Fry of Ephrata, PA, obtained the original shoofly pie recipe in the 1930's. Supposedly, this original recipe called for a brand of molasses called Shoofly Molasses. Since molasses is the heart and soul of the shoofly pie, it makes sense that the pie itself could have drawn its unique name from this ingredient.

The origin of the pie itself is also often debated. It may have been invented by early Amish and Mennonite settlers from Germany and Switzerland using the staples that they possessed. However, most likely it was a variation of English treacle tarts as these delights were well-documented generations before American settlers. Molasses was often substituted for treacle in colonial American recipes.

Despite the odd name and uncertainty of this pie's origins, most who have tasted it agree that the molasses and sweet crumb combination make for an excellent desert or breakfast treat. There is nothing quite like the smell of baking a shoofly pie and taste of a warm gooey slice fresh out of the oven.

Photo by: Deb Brazuk

If you haven't tried a shoofly pie yet or even if it has just been a while, why not make this unique Pennsylvania Dutch classic part of your next holiday meal. You can either bake it from scratch using one of these recipes from the PA Farm Show or you could use one of our ready to make kits as Deb did above.

To help you get started and for reading this blog, use the code to SHOOFLYBLOG to get 40% off your next order of our shoofly pie products through our website, www.goldenbarrel.com. Code only works for shoofly pie mix or already made shoofly pies. Offer expires 12/31/2011.

Golden Barrel
The Sweet Taste of Tradition