Honey is more than just sweet

By Betty StreetCook Big

Although the end of the month is upon us, it’s not too late to note that September is National Honey Month and to recognize that honey has more uses than just being a sweet food and food additive. In researching this story, several Internet sites were explored, including the National Honey Board; Tomas Honey Company; Cooperative Extension Service, specifically University of Florida, Gainesville; MyRecipes.com; and HealthyHomeRecipes.com.
When we think of honey, we get mental pictures of bees involved in pollinating flowers, shrubs and trees, and then making honey in their combs. Honeycombs might be located in old tree trunks; or, as is the case more often nowadays, in a group of bee boxes outdoors in alfalfa fields; or in a scientifically controlled environment in apiaries where honey-making is a large and profitable business.
A bottle of honey at the grocery store isn’t cheap anymore. There are more than 300 kinds of this “nature’s sweetener” in the U.S. alone. The wide range of varieties depends on the type of blossoms visited by the bees that produce it, and it’s a demanding and complex business.
Here are some interesting facts gleaned from the National Honey Board:
• Honey has been used as a healing ingredient for treating minor burns.
• Honey and lemon juice in equal amounts make a great cough syrup. Try a tablespoon at a time as needed.
• Ancient Egyptians used honey as a form of payment for needed items.
• German peasants also used honey as payment to their feudal landlords.
• Colonists in America used honey to preserve fruit.
• Bees fly at about 15 miles per hour.
• A typical bee colony can house up to 60,000 bees.
• The queen bee lays up to 1500 eggs per day.
The Thomas Honey Company noted these things:
• Replace up to one-half of the granulated sugar called for in any recipe with honey. With a little experimenting, honey can replace all of the sugar in some recipes.
• Reduce the liquid called for in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used.
• Add ¼ to ¾ tsp. baking soda for each cup of honey used in baking goods.
• Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning when honey is added.
• Store honey at room temperature, never refrigerate.
• Keep in a well-sealed container. Honey can draw moisture (and dust!) from the air.
• If honey crystalizes, place the container in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve (this can be done on the stove on the lowest setting). Or microwave the honey in a microwave-safe container, stirring every 30 seconds, until the honey dissolves. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey.
Honey has an antioxidant property which contains a variety of substances which act as antioxidants. These eliminate free radicals in our systems; in other words, honey is good for us. Don’t go overboard because honey still has calories and carbs, but—way to go, honey!


German Slaw
Thomas Honey Co., Lake City, Fla.
1 lg. head cabbage
1 med. Onion
1 cup honey
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. celery seed
1 cup cider vinegar
½ cup cooking oil
Grate or chop cabbage and onion. Mix all other ingredients, adding 2 tsp. sugar if honey is used. Bring mixture to boil and pour over cabbage and onion, stirring until completely mixed. Place in plastic bowl with tight lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.

Honey Cake
3 eggs
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ cup soft margarine or butter
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2½ cups flour
¼ cup honey
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cold strong coffee
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ripe banana, mashed
Beat the eggs until thick. Add sugar gradually. Beat in margarine. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices together. Add mixture gradually to creamed mixture with honey and coffee. Beat until combined. Add banana. Pour batter into a lightly oiled and floured tube pan, or two 9-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Cool thoroughly before slicing.

Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce
Yield: Serves 4, serving=1 breast half and 2 Tbsp. sauce
Cost per serving: $2.36
2 tsp. canola oil
4 6-oz. skinless, boneless breast halves
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced shallots
½ cup beer
2 Tbsp. lower-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper and salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add shallots to pan; cook 1 minute or until translucent. Combine beer and next 3 ingredients (through honey) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add beer mixture to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to ½ cup. Return chicken to pan; turn to coat with sauce. Sprinkle evenly with parsley.

Pumpkin Honey Bread
1 cup honey
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 can (16 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
4 eggs
4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
In large bowl, cream honey with butter until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Sift together remaining ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Divide batter equally between two well-greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes; invert pans to remove loaves and allow to finish cooling on racks.