Bees prepare honey from nectar which they collect from flowers and blossoms of trees. They use it, as well as pollen to feed their young. Honey is a mix of natural sugars (80%) and water (18%) and minerals, vitamins, pollen, protein and amino acids (2%).
Around 70% of honey’s natural sugar content is made up of fructose and glucose.
There are approximately 300 varieties of honey in the United States. No two are exactly the same. Varieties are regional depending on the floral blossoms that are available to the bees. Clover honey is the most widely available. Other varieties include: buckwheat, blueberry, alfalfa and orange blossom from the south.
Honey has been used by people as a food source for thousands of years, but was mainly regarded as a medicine, with almost religious or magical significance. Honey was the only available source of sugar in countries where it was made. By the time of the Roman Empire, honey production and beekeeping were well established. It has antiseptic properties and can be used as a remedy for aliments from sore throats to burns and cuts. For a soothing drink for a sore throat, mix honey with the juice of half a lemon, add boiling water and stir.
You can use honey instead of sugar in cooking. Because it is sweeter than sugar, you need to use less. The first thing to consider when using honey to cook with is that it is two times as sweet as sugar.
· Substitute honey for ½ the sugar in a recipe
· Reduce the liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used
· Add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used
· Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning
Store honey at room temperature, in an air-tight container. Never store it in the refrigerator. When stored properly, honey’s shelf life is almost indefinite. If honey turns cloudy or crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Or place the honey in a microwave-safe container without the lid and microwave on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to over-heat the honey.
Honey has 60 calories per one tablespoon, contains 17 g carbohydrates and trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Never feed honey to a baby under 12 months of age. Honey may contain harmful toxins that can be a danger to babies, but not to older children and adults. Once the infant reaches the age of one year old or older, their intestines have a balance of acids that help destroy and fight off toxins.
Honey’s natural sweetness has always been perfect for desserts, but it’s right at home in savory dishes too – from appetizers to main dishes, smoothies and snacks. Try adding honey a little at a time to sauces and glazes.