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July 1st, 2015 at 00:55 am

Ingredients: Honey 101

in: Recipes

Hummingbird Ranch Honey Part of my thinking about the economics of relying on Food Stamps research – has me going down the path of “ingredients for healthier eating on a tight budget”

My father volunteered in one of the programs when our government thought it was more important to feed its citizens first and enemies of our country second, there was a “food share” program where ANYONE could go, once a month, and buy a box of basic stuff. It usually included a quart of honey. Since those boxes included some perishables, he always came home with at least one purchased box and some of the perishables that would not keep until the next distribution day.

The Public library (dark ages no internet – in fact no such thing as home computers) had a good selection of cookbooks and I found quite a few recipes that used Honey and the other ingredients in those books. My brothers thought honey research was a great hobby. Junk food was not in our family budget – home made desserts were a treat.

Here are some things I learned then and some I am still “thinking about now – five decades later.

Many recipes suggest that Honey can be subbed one for one (1 cup Honey to replace 1 Cup Sugar) I disagree.

Keep in mind that Honey tends to make a strong flavor statement – so a lighter hand is often needed, particularly with fruit of any kind. The obvious benefit is less sugar/carbs added to the diet. Second, if the goal is to add sweetness only, then you can usually reduce the amount of honey by at least 25 percent.

One thing I can say is that I find Honey, once you get the proportions “right” adds a depth of flavor I have never been able to achieve with either processed or raw sugar.

Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. This is a huge plus for most baked goods because “moist” is usually a desirable attribute.

Crispy toppings, like the crumbs on your fruit pie or cobblers, you may need to either reduce the butter, or increase the dry ingredients (I vote for more topping – bad as it might be for me) Still working on this one.

Honey browns more easily than Cane Sugar – you may need to reduce the oven temperature. How much varies depending on the food being prepared. Experiment or and always check the progress frequently.

I have found that reducing temperature by 25 degree F is a good place to start – still ovens vary – it may take more than one try to get it right. You will likely also need to adjust baking/roasting time – keep and learn to use a good temperature testing is a must have for your kitchen.

A cup of honey contains approximately 1/4 cup of water; this means that you may need to reduce other liquids in your recipe proportionally. In some recipes, you will need to reduce other sources of moisture (fat, water, milk, etc)

With Diabetic (not enough insulin produced “naturally” so high blood sugar, etc) and a Hypoglycemic (too much insulin – low blood sugar leading to other issues) we both need to keep a sharp eye on the amount of sugars and carbs we consume.

If you have medical conditions, always consult your primary or specality physician before making changes in your diet. Honey is said to have about 20% more calories (approximately 22 per teaspoon – “white” sugar is estimated at 17 – since you will use less Honey in most cases, it is probably about even.)

It has been our experience that high fructose corn syrup is at best a problem and at worst a HUGE problem. Lots is being written about many of the artifical sweeteners, and setting health issues aside, I just can’t stand the aftertaste. Perhaps needless to say, I spend a LOT of time reading labels.

According to the information from NIH (National Institute of Health) at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19817641
Honey might be a better choice for the type II diabetic. So long as care is taken to use the same degree and care for it as a diabetic would for Cane Sugar.

Our doctors have always told us that if we find something is the factor causing trouble – then the smart money avoids that ingredient.

Thanks to learning basic skills, a willingness to prepare experiment or two, often superior dishes are easier to make acceptable,
What I have not yet completely worked out is the cost comparison. And, a source for “crystallized” honey (or how to do that myself) so I can do more experimenting

I am hoping life long family friend Richard Focht of Hummingbird Ranch and my other beekeeper friends will be able to help me out with the sourcing or, I will have to “make the rounds” of local beekeepers and see who has what – starting at my favorite local farm stand. Then it will on to Maple Syrup – one of the few candy flavors I have difficulty resisting.

Do you use Honey in your regular diet? Any recipes to share?



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