1 Food 5 Ways

Honey

The world's oldest sweetener is a boon for today's home cook.
honey

Honey has been in kitchens since antiquity (Egyptians were cooking with it over 5,000 years ago), but there’’s a modern buzz surrounding the golden liquid. “We’’re seeing two big trends: the increase in varietal honeys, and the rise of local honeys,” says Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine.

Varietal honeys such as orange blossom, lavender, or sage are produced when bees collect nectar from a single flower. “Each has a unique flavor and color, the same way wines from different regions and different grapes are unique,” explains Flottum.

Rather than investing in Italian chestnut honey or French lavender honey, Flottum advises tapping into the growing number of local honeys. “It’’s just like going to the farmers’ market and buying local produce,” he says. “You’’re supporting a beekeeper and the quality is so much better.” (It’’s also the best way to be sure that bees are properly cared for in small populations. Visit honeylocator.com to find a producer near you.)

Honey keeps baked goods tender and gives them an amber hue. A touch of honey balances other flavors and lends richness without adding fat in dressings, sauces, and smoothies. Check out the following ideas, or play around with honey in your favorite recipes to see what new uses you can find for this time-honored sweetener.

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Honey-Glazed Tofu on Pumpkin Seed Couscous

Honey-Glazed Tofu on Pumpkin Seed Couscous

Cracked black pepper—a coarser grind of the kitchen staple—lends a lightly spicy flavor without the bite of fresh chiles or hot sauce. If you can’t find shelled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas), substitute your favorite chopped nuts.

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Spinach-and-Orange Salad with Almonds and Honey-Sesame Dressing

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The Asian-flavored dressing for this salad also makes a great dip for raw veggies, spring rolls, and dumplings.

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Honey-Pecan Squares

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Here, honey replaces corn syrup in a pecan-pie-like filling for bar cookies.

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Honey-Almond Cake

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This layer cake is a good recipe to try with a floral varietal like lavender or orange blossom because the delicate flavors really come through.

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Honey-Goat Cheese Phyllo Triangles

Honey-Goat Cheese Phyllo Triangles

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These crowd-pleasing pastries can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or drizzled with extra honey and sprinkled with chopped nuts for a light dessert. Thaw phyllo overnight in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t dry out. Another trick is to cover the sheets with a damp kitchen towel

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comments

Honey brings up such a nostalgic feeling for everyone, even if it wasn't part of our past. It is gorgeous and golden, and has an amazing taste. However, it is this love that has driven the poor bee colonies to near collapse. I know, I know, I don't mean to be a buzz kill (punn intended), but as everyone knows by now, bees are dying off at an alarming rate, some of it is due to chemical exposure, but a large part is due to our over production and burden we are putting on colonies, large and small farms alike. The stress and disease from over breeding/work are both highly contagious within, and cross contamination with other colonies. I think the best way we can celebrate HONEY month is by giving the bees a break. We are working them to death, literally.

Anna Fiona - 2013-09-04 10:49:18

I love using honey to sweeten dishes. I love homemade honey ice cream, too!

Arthur in the Garden! - 2013-09-03 23:11:34

Wow, didn't realize there were so many other honey lovers out there. The pumpkin pie recipe sounds wonderful. I have a good asian glaze that works well with noodles or tofu, or stir fry that is very simple: 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger. You can add a tsp sesame oil too if you like. Enjoy!! Oh, best buttery honey I ever had was from Maui, Hawaii!! Pale and delicious. I also love Acacia honey from South Africa. Mmmmm.

Sally - 2009-02-24 18:48:10

best pumpkin pie - EVER. and so easy it's practically a sin. combine one can pumpkin with 1 carton extra firm tofu (drain all the water first), 2/3 cup honey, 2 tblsp. pumpkin pie spice and bake at 375 for an hour. You can put it in a crust (especially graham cracker crust) or enjoy it plain!

Flantag - 2009-02-23 17:43:37

I live with two vegans and honey is a staple of the diet. If you want to be a 100% technical, honey comes from bees, an animal. However, you shouldn't be vegan for a title. think about why you are vegan. If it is for health reasons; Honey is very healthy for you, it helps with allergies and is a good alternative to many sweeteners. if you are a vegan for animal cruelty reasons, I agree with Mark who points out that bees produce more honey than they need. Beekeepers go out of their way to make it easy and helpful to the bees. It's really your decision. remember that vegan is a choice not a title.

Eowyn - 2009-02-20 16:08:45

Beekeeping promotes the health and continuation of the honey bee species. Bees don't do well in the wild, they need medications to help with foul brood, varroa mites, etc. If it is a vegetarian moral issue, it really works out better for the bees to be kept by humans because they live longer and healthier lives. And beekeepers only take surplus, as was said before. Honey contains no bee parts, as it is made up of nectar from plants. It also has a low glycemic index, which is healthier for us. I see no reason why anyone should feel guilty about consuming honey.

Stacy - 2009-02-11 14:30:42

Nora: I would point out that no country ever made honey, not even in a hundred years. Our bees make the honey over thousands of flights, one partial drop at a time. They all use the exact same secret recipe handed down from their old world ancesters for our bees are all old world in origen and make the honey the same way their ancesters did back home over seas. We bee keepers, European, Asian, or North American, harvest Honey within weeks of its creation, though I suspect one hundred year-old honey would still be a delight.

TC-Beekeeper - 2009-02-04 16:49:23

re: honey being vegan or vegetarian: Well, I'm not vegan, so I may not approach this 100% from your point of view, but: Modern honey harvesting does NO HARM at all to the bees. Healthy bee colonies produce a surplus (sometimes a huge surplus) of honey, over and above what they can use - it's not like getting a calf onto grass too early so you can milk the cow, and then artificially prolonging the cow's milking-period with lights or whatever. From the do-no-harm aspect, I see no reason why a vegan can't eat honey! and as Mark said, bees are necessary if we're going to have vegetables. As far as I can tell, the anti-honey argument for vegans is purely that you are taking the product of an animal's work. Well, you could pay for that work by planting pollen-plants for them to use! I hope you can support your local beekeeper.

Sandy - 2009-01-20 12:26:42

in response to Lady's comment... Honey is ideal for folks with pollen allergies (my son has sinus infections year round without honey in his diet) however, it needs to be raw local honey. It doesn't have quite the same taste, its not sweet, and it has a bit of a strange texture to it. However, I would rather suffer a unique texture and less sweetness for the health benefits. (I don't like to take medicines to solve what nature has already done for us).

Amy - 2009-01-19 06:21:25

I've also been told to eat local honey to help with my pollen allergies. I suppose on the basis of growing my immunities so when Spring time comes, the pollen won't be such a shock to my system. I already had a little honey with my tea often, but (sadly) hadn't invested into the good local stuff before. I cannot believe the difference in taste/color/texture from generic big brand honey, to locally produced. Now I love it!

Lady - 2009-01-12 17:10:07

I've been vegan for well over twenty years and am also a hobby beekeeper (two hives). I've heard both sides of the debate about whether honey can be considered vegan, and if you go by what you read on line, it looks like many people would say "no." But without honey bees (and the sad reality is that there are no longer populations of wild honey bees in N.America) we wouldn't have ANY vegetables on our plate at all. Support your local beekeepers and buy their honey. These people love their bees and care deeply for them, and are keeping bee populations alive.

Mark - 2008-11-20 14:51:48

Hi, I am trying to go completely vegan. I have not had honey in about a year but I noticed that a lot of cosmetics I use, even those that say, cruelty-free, contain honey and beeswax. Since I read the article, I am relieved honey is considered vegetarian but am wondering if that means it could also be considered vegan? Thanks.

michelle - 2008-07-28 15:51:45

I've just now read this article. I live in British Columbia, Canada, and I buy a most delicious honey from the health food store. It is the best honey I have tasted -- Blueberry Honey. Before I tasted this I was not a honey lover, but now! Oh, it is so good.

JayLeigh - 2008-07-10 13:09:49

wow, for someone who recommends doing their research, nora sure has a hard time identifying the gender of the "so called Flottum", who is clearly identified as a "he" in the article... and in nora's own quote. poor dearie, the honey is better in Europe but so is the education.

litter-attie - 2008-06-08 16:54:21

If you think there isn't high quality, amazing, local farmer's market honey you either aren't leaving your house or live somewhere without bees and flowers. I have had amazing local honey on both coasts, but you can't find them at the grocery store.

liz - 2008-05-13 14:13:04