Get Sweet on Honey

Looking to use less refined sugar? Buy more from local producers? Honey may “bee” the answer.

By Sophia McDonald Bennett

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Honey has long been prized for its sweet taste and energy-boosting carbohydrates. But if your honey use is limited to a drizzle on cornbread or toast, it’s time to revisit the thick liquid. Honey is a versatile cooking ingredient that boosts the flavor of everything, from main dishes to desserts.

Honey Types

Not all honey is the same. It can taste very different, depending on where bees source their pollen. Here are a few varieties. Keep in mind that the darker the hue, the more robust the flavor is likely to be.

Avocado: Dark in color with a buttery flavor. Use in dressings and sauces.

Buckwheat: Looks like molasses and has a similarly strong taste. Great in barbecue sauce and baked goods.

Clover: One of the most common types of honey, it is light in color and has a delicate flavor. Useful as a sweetener in most everything.

Orange blossom: White to light-amber, with a citrusy aroma. Outstanding in cakes and cookies.

Wildflower: Pale in color, sweet to eat. Perfect as an everyday eating honey.

Cook with It

Honey adds nice flavor to foods and can be a great way to cut down on the amount of processed sugar you use. Up to 50 percent of white sugar in recipes can be replaced with honey. Just follow these steps:

  • Reduce liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey.
  • When cooking baked goods, reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning.

Protecting Bees

Honeybees give us more than their sweet nectar. They pollinate the foods we enjoy every day: fruits, some vegetables and nuts. But their existence has been threatened by a number of factors, including mites, loss of habitat, pesticides and fungicides, and pollution. Here are some things you can do to protect bees in your community:

  • Avoid using pesticides or insecticides in the garden. Products with neonicotinoids are particularly harmful to bees.
  • Plant flowers that attract bees. Native varieties are always best, or consider plants such as lavender, cosmos, echinacea, calendula, bee balm and borage.
  • Learn about bee-protection resources and organizations in your community. Start with your local agricultural extension office.

Source: National Honey Board

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