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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Honey

Frugal Kitchens 101

White sugar is likely one of most common sweeteners home cooks use.  The problem with sugar is it adds sweet and bulk but no real flavour.  This is desirable when cooking some foods like cookies or jams but the flavour of other foods can be enhanced by using another sweetener.  One of my favourite sweeteners to use is unpasteurized honey.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 focuses on honey.

Honey really is the nectar of the Gods.  I don't mean that pasteurized, homogenized honey sold in the stores either.  It lacks both flavour and texture because it is a blend of many kinds of honey then heat treated (pasteurized) to kill off any nasties.  The reality is there is absolutely no reason to pasteurize honey other than the convenience of the food industry.  Honey is has natural anti-biotic tendencies and is shelf stable for eons without ever spoiling.  Natural raw honey on the other hand is packed full of flavour ranging from very mild to quite pronounced.  It also ranges in price from inexpensive (about $7 per L (32 oz) to $10 for 1 lb (16 oz).  It is usually sold as liquid or in the comb.

Honey takes its colouring and flavouring from what the bees are gathering nectar from.  In the spring the honey will be very light, pale amber and mild flavourd.  In the late fall it will be a very dark amber  with a more pronounced, distinctive flavour.  Honey can be very regional as well like the sour-wood honey I bought on our road trip that is a very rare honey harvested only a few days in the fall in the southern Appalachian Mountains or the buckwheat honey I buy from Pennsylvania.  Most of my honey though comes from local beekeepers right here in Ontario.

At one time getting unpasteurized honey meant visiting local beekeepers or farm stands.  By all means those sources are still available.  However, for those living in urban areas not wishing to do a lot of driving an excellent source for unpasteurized honey is health food stores.   Unpasteurized honey can also be found at various ethnic, Amish an Mennonite shops as well as flea markets and farmer's markets.    There are two things to consider when using honey.  Infants under the age of 1 should not be given raw honey because very minute chance of botulism.  While this is extremely unlikely don't take the chance.  Local honey is by far better if you have seasonal allergies because you are less likely to react to the honey.  I have year round and seasonal allergies yet have not had a problem with honeys from other location but this is something to be aware of just in case.

Honey can be substituted for sugar.  It is hydrophyllic meaning honey attracts moisture and because it is a liquid it will behave a bit different than sugar would in a recipe.  In general when substituting honey for sugar use half the amount of honey called for in the recipe.  If substituting in bread recipes you may have to add a little extra flour to compensate for the additional moisture.  If using honey in jam or jelly making you will need to use a low methoxy pectin like Pomona's rather than regular pectins.  If your honey comes in the comb, carefully poke or press down slightly on one side of the comb to release the honey.  Continue as needed.  The comb is wax and while you can eat it it would be best not to.

Honey should be stored in a cool, dark location away from bright light.  It is normal for honey to crystallize during long storage.  If this happens set the jar into a pan of hot water for the crystals to disolve.  Some sources recommend microwaving the honey but this may according to other sources damage the honey. 


2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Thanks for all the information on Honey! :)

Garden Gnome said...

You are quite welcome :) I hope you found it useful.