Sweeten Your Day with Local Honey
Honey bees are responsible for pollinating most fruits, vegetables, and legumes. In fact, to produce a pound of honey, bees must visit some 2 million flowers. Those floral blossoms help create more than 300 varieties of honey ranging from clover and sage to blueberry and buckwheat. Floral source, location and climate factors all affect the taste, color and texture (viscosity) of honey. Its colors range from nearly colorless to deep dark browns. Each has its own distinct flavor ranging from delectably mild to impressively bold.
Honey is a wonderful source of quick energy and is also valued for its antioxidant properties. It is composed primarily of carbohydrates and water, and also contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Add it to your diet for a healthier alternative to other sweeteners.
Cooking with Honey: For best results, use recipes developed for using honey. Because of its high fructose content, honey has a higher sweetening power than sugar. This means you can use less honey than sugar to achieve the desired sweetness. When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. With a little experimentation, honey can replace all the sugar in some recipes. When baking with honey, remember the following:
•Reduce any liquid called for by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used.
•Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.
•Reduce oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning.
When measuring honey, coat the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil before adding the honey. The honey will slide right out. A 12-ounce jar of honey equals a standard measuring cup.
Storing Honey: Store honey at room temperature – your kitchen counter or pantry shelf is ideal. Storing honey in the refrigerator accelerates the honey’s crystallization. Crystallization is the natural process in which liquid in honey becomes solid. Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, it tends to darken and lose its aroma and flavor over time. This is a temperature-dependent process, making the shelf life of honey difficult to define. For practical purposes, a shelf life of two years is often stated. If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Or, place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave it, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey.
Note: Honey should never be fed to infants under one year of age. Honey is otherwise a safe and wholesome food for children and adults.