|Feature Article||From Harvest to Health|
|How to select, store, prepare and preserve a variety of farm-fresh produce|
Honey is a sweetener in liquid form. The honeybee produces
it from the nectar of flowers and stores it in the small waxy cells
of a honeycomb. The flavor of honey varies with the source of the
nectar. Besides ornamental and wild flowers, Missouri honey comes
from a wide variety of other plant sources including agricultural
crops like clover, cotton, and soybeans as well as the blooms of
The color of honey ranges from almost colorless to a dark brown. In general, the darker the honey, the stronger the flavor. Use dark honeys in whole grain breads, muffins, and pancakes. Use milder, sweeter, lighter-colored honeys as table-top sweeteners and in making cookies, cakes, and pies.
Missouri honey is sold in several forms. Comb honey is
sold just as it is stored by the bees. Sometimes it is cut into
small chunks and wrapped in individual cartons. Liquid or strained
honey is the most popular form. It is produced by forcing the
honey from the comb and straining it free of crystals. Creamed
or solid honey is strained honey that is partially or wholly
solidified or granulated. Chunk honey is a combination of
liquid and comb honey.
Do not give honey to infants younger than one year or to people on sugar-restricted diets. For more information about this, please refer to GH 1120, Using and Storing Honey, available free from your county extension center: http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/hesguide/foodnut/gh1120.htm.
Liquid honey keeps best in air-tight containers in a dry place
at room temperature (70°F to 80°F). The air-tight cover is necessary
because honey loses aroma and flavor and absorbs moisture and odors
readily when exposed to air.
Keep creamed honey in the refrigerator as it may partially liquefy
if stored at too high a temperature.
Cover and store honey in the refrigerator if it has been diluted
with water or other liquid. Like other thin syrups, it may ferment
or mold quickly if not kept cold.
Honey kept for many months may darken slowly and become stronger
in flavor but will still be usable. However, when honey absorbs
extra moisture, yeasts that are naturally present in honey begin
to grow and ferment the sugars, producing gas and off-flavors. Honey
that foams and smells like alcohol is spoiled and should be discarded.
Honey may crystallize or granulate as it gets older, or if it
is refrigerated or frozen. This is a natural process and does not
harm the honey in any way. To return crystallized honey to liquid
form, place the open container of honey in a pan of hot (not boiling)
water until crystals disappear. You can also do this in a microwave
oven--check owner's manual for directions. Be careful not to overheat
because too much heat causes honey to change color and flavor.
Cooking and Preserving with
An advantage to using honey in place of granulated sugar in cooking
and food preservation is that honey is sweeter than granulated sugar
so you can use less honey for the same sweetening effect. For equal
sweetening power, substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey for each cup of
sugar. An additional advantage is that baked products made with
honey remain moist longer during storage. Use these tips when cooking
- You can replace all the sugar in puddings, custards, pie fillings, baked apples, candied sweet potatoes, sweet and sour vegetables, salad dressings, sauces and glazes with honey.
- Use honey to replace up to half the sugar in cakes. Reduce the liquid called for by one-fourth cup for every cup of honey used.
- The amount of honey that can replace sugar in cookies varies with the type of cookie: Replace no more than one-third the sugar with honey in crisp cookies like gingersnaps; honey can replace one-half the sugar in brownies and up to two-thirds the sugar in fruit bars.
- When making either cakes or cookies, first mix the honey with the fat or liquid, then mix it thoroughly with the other ingredients. This will help prevent a soggy layer from forming on top of the baked product.
- Neutralize the acid in honey by adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of honey used, but if the recipe already calls for soda, don't add more.
- Products made with honey brown faster than foods made with other sweeteners, so lower the oven temperature 25°F when baking with honey.
- It's easier to measure honey if you lightly grease the measuring cup or spoon first. Or, if liquid or solid fat is called for, measure it first, then use the same cup for the honey. Every last drop will slip right out.
- One pound of honey equals about 1 1/3 cups. A three pound container holds about 4 cups of honey.
Honey can replace up to one-half the granulated sugar in syrups for canning fruit and up to one-fourth the granulated sugar in syrups for freezing fruit. You can also use honey in all types of sweet spreads. Guidesheets on all these procedures are available at your county extension center.
Quick and Fresh Ideas
- Tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Make a special sandwich filling by mixing honey with cream cheese, chopped dried fruit, nuts, and grated orange peel. Stuff into whole wheat pita bread.
- Drizzle honey over whole grain griddle cakes, french toast, or waffles. Top with fresh fruit and add a glass of milk--guaranteed to delight even non-breakfast eaters!
- As a late afternoon pick-me-up for tired kids and grown ups too, give them a Honey Hug: In a blender, combine one cup milk or plain yogurt, one banana, one peach, a half cup of strawberries, and sweeten to taste with honey. Whirl till frothy.
Honey Bran Muffins
This makes 24 muffins--freeze some for later!
2 1/4 cups flour (For a nutty, whole grain flavor use half whole
wheat and half all-purpose)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired
3 cups crushed bran cereal
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raisins
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
In a large bowl, combine cereal, oil and raisins and pour boiling
water over them. Set aside to cool slightly. In a smaller bowl,
mix eggs, buttermilk and honey. Add to partially cooled cereal mixture.
In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to
the cereal mixture, stirring to moisten. Cover and let stand for
at least 15 minutes (an hour at most). Grease 24 muffin cups, or
use paper muffin tin liners, and fill them three-fourths full with
batter. Bake muffins in a preheated oven at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes: 24 muffins.
Honey and Spice Bread
A great dessert or breakfast bread!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each: cloves, nutmeg, salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup honey
Mix all dry ingredients and set aside. Mix all liquid ingredients
and add to dry mixture. Blend well. Pour into greased 9x5 inch loaf
pan. Bake at 350F for 45 to 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted
in center comes out clean. Makes: one 9x5 inch loaf.
To order any of the "From Harvest to Health" publications or
for more preservation information, please refer to the University
of Missouri Extension, Human Environmental Sciences Publications
Food, Nutrition and Fitness section.
Last update: Thursday, June 18, 2009