Chances are you have a bottle of honey tucked away in your kitchen cupboard. If you are someone like me you might use it every day, or perhaps you only use it a couple times a year, in either case I bet you have a bottle around somewhere. Honey seems to be one of those things that everyone uses but not too many people really think about. You know that honey comes from bees, but for most of us that’s all we know.
In case you were wondering bees make honey from the nectar of flowers. They gather it and then add enzymes and reduce the overall moisture content. The result of this labor intensive process is the deliciously sweet goo that we all know and love. The flavor of the honey depends on what type of flowers the bees happen to come by. The color can vary widely, from the light golden hue that you typically see in stores to dark brown. The flavor varies widely as well; a general rule to follow is the lighter the color the milder the taste. Varietal honey (which is made from specific flower varieties) can actually be compared to wine in that the growing conditions of the plants effect the overall product. Clover honey from the southern USA will not taste the same as clover honey from Canada. If you ever have the opportunity to taste different kinds at a farmers market I highly suggest that you take advantage! The right kind of honey can really make a recipe come to life. Something like clover is mellow, but buckwheat has a bold taste that really stands out.
To celebrate honey in all its sweet glory I thought I would share a few fun facts with you.
1) Be careful when measuring your honey. One cup of honey is 8 fluid ounces but actually weighs 12 ounces. Make sure that you double check your recipe so that you use the correct measurement.
2) Properly stored honey will never expire! Honey stored in seal containers is considered safe to eat for decades. The issue is actually with the container breaking down as opposed to the product itself.
3) To get the crystals out of honey just warm it in the microwave for a few seconds. This will bring it back to its liquid form.
4) Honey should be avoided for children less than one year old. Honey can contain a strain of botulism which can harm babies but healthy adults can process. Once the infant reaches one year of age its digestive system is normally developed enough to do the same. Honey is considered safe for pregnant and lactating women as their systems are developed and will therefore protect the child.
5) Historically honey has been used as a medicinal ingredient. Due to its antibacterial properties it was and still is used both as a topical treatment (for wounds and burns) and as ingested one (for sore throats and ulcers).
6) Honey is best stored at room temperature. Storing honey in the fridge can promote the growth of crystals.