Honey is awesome stuff! You have to respect all the cool things about honey. It’s been around for thousands of years as a symbol of luxury, an alchemical and medicinal ingredient, and the stuff that cute TV bears have their hands stuck in the jar while trying to get to. That’s respect…It’s not every ingredient that’s popular for that long. I mean, chia seeds have been around forever and they’re just now getting the spotlight. But despite all the fame, it seems like the vast majority relegates honey use to a condiment for fast food biscuits. It’s great on biscuits, don’t get me wrong, but it can be so much more.
Honey has many uses. For brevity sake, I will keep the uses limited to just the kitchen, but if you are interested, honey has a lot of proven properties from soothing a sore throat to helping with acne. And you can find a lot of useful information online about many of the other important functions of honey. As far as the honey I use in my kitchen, I do love all kinds. From creamy honey that is actually spreadable like butter, to honey still in the comb, I have all kinds that I use. But my favorite honey is raw honey. The thing that is great about raw honey is that it doesn’t go through the pasteurization. Why is this a good thing? Well, pasteurization is the process of heating a source of food, usually liquid, to a certain temperature to ensure that all the harmful bacteria in the food has been killed, and is safe to eat. And safety is definitely important. The problem with pasteurization is that in the process of taking out some of the harmful bacteria, it also destroys a lot of the good things as well, such as healthy bacteria, vitamins, and flavor compounds that give the honey its unique taste. So this begs the question, safety first, or flavor/health first? Well the answer, of course is “it depends”! The reason pasteurization is so important in our food system is because we mass produce everything to safely get as much food out to as many people as possible, and time is money, so there is no room being delicate, which inevitably gives us bland food but lots of it. And it’s great that we have a system in place to feed so many people, but I believe that if people are willing to do just a little digging, they will find that there is a treasure trove of local producers everywhere around you that offers unique and amazing honey that is the same price if not cheaper that the mass produced stuff. So, basically.. If I were buying mass produced honey that gives no consideration to local climate conditions, local bacteria population, etc. I would definitely want it pasteurized. But If I put a little more effort into learning a little about my local agriculture and the producers that spend their lives to create amazing honey, I would probably never eat pasteurized honey again. And just like wine, honey will taste different and unique depending on where it is produced, meaning that your local honey is something that you can’t find anywhere else in the whole wide world. which is something to be proud of!
So now that that is out of the way, what can you do with honey? Honey can actually replace sugar in baking recipes that don’t require the use of creaming sugar with butter. So replacing sugar with honey is a great way to add moisture and flavor to cookies, pies, etc. Another of my favorite uses for honey is making dressing which can be used for salads and meat marinades. Also, honey is great for making lemonade. Try it, you won’t believe how refreshing it is! If you have an adventurous spirit you can mix equal portions of salt and honey with a little water and dissolve over low heat, and once the mixture comes back to room temperature, use it to cover a de-boned filet of salmon and refrigerate covered for three days, slice thin and enjoy…which is possibly the best way to make honey cured salmon…you could do that. Or (and this is my personal favorite) eat it fresh with seasonal fruits, a fresh crusty baguette, and a selection of cured meats and cheeses to have a surprisingly satisfying meal.
So, please eat more honey! There are a bunch of local producers near you that want you to eat their honey. It supports local business, and can save you money. There are a million and one ways to use it, and it can save you a lot of money on car insurance…ok, maybe not that last one, but there are still plenty of reasons!