Cooking School

Discover honey

Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Discover honey

What it is:
There are many types of honey, which is the unrefined nectar from plants as gathered, modified and stored in honeycombs by honey bees.

Liquid honey
Liquid honey comes from the honeycomb and is strained for clarity. It's the most widely produced form in North America and blends into a variety of foods, making it convenient for cooking and baking.

Infused honey
Infused honey has herbs, spices or peels added to flavour it by steeping. Just a few of the possibilities include mint, ginger-lime, rosemary, cinnamon-clove and hot pepper.

Creamed honey
Creamed honey is 100 per cent honey crystallized under controlled conditions. It is thicker than liquid honey and, at room temperature, is ideal for spreading.

Flavoured honey
Flavoured honey depends on where it was gathered, such as from clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, basswood and raspberry. It may be white, golden, amber or brown. Usually, the paler the honey, the milder the flavour.

Comb honey
Comb honey is natural honey sealed in hexagonal beeswax built by bees in the hive. Purchased in wooden or plastic frames, it is also available in containers as a mixture of liquid honey and pieces of comb honey, known as chunk honey.

How to store:
• Store honey in tightly closed container in a dry place at room temperature. Freezing in sealed airtight container does not affect colour or flavour but may speed up crystallization.

• Liquid honey will crystallize over time, largely due to the ratio of naturally occurring sugars to water. While it is perfectly fine to use it in this cloudy, granular form, you can return it to its liquid state by heating the jar in hot water until it liquifies.

How to use:
Since honey is sweeter than sugar by volume, you can use less. To substitute honey for sugar in recipes, use about three-quarters as much honey as you would sugar and reduce the liquid by one-quarter. As well, in baking, add ? tsp (2 mL) baking soda for every
1 cup (250 mL) honey used and reduce oven temperature by 25ºF (10ºC) to prevent overbrowning.

For baking
Use light-coloured honey for white cakes and biscuits, and dark-hued ones in strong-flavoured recipes, such as gingerbread, honey cakes, fruit cakes and chocolate-based items.

Photo: Ricotta Honey Cheesecake
Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

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Health Note
Health Canada advises that infants under one year of age should not have honey, but it is safe and wholesome for older children and adults. Visit for more information.

Did you know
• Beekeeping is the oldest form of agriculture, and Canadian beekeepers have one of the highest honey yields per hive in the world. All provinces produce honey and Alberta leads in production.

• Having the unique distinction of being the only insect that produces food eaten by humans, worker honeybees tap two million flowers and fly more than 88,000 kilometres in order to produce one pound (500 g) of honey. A hard-working bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip yet produces only about 1?12th of a teaspoon of honey in her short lifetime (worker honeybees are female).

Recipes to try
Ricotta Honey Cheesecake
Greek thyme honey, traditionally used in this cheesecake, adds an intriguing herbal flavour. Closer to home, try wildflower or melon honey.

Roasted Honey Cinnamon Nuts
Fabulous on their own, these sweet, toffeelike nuts are also delicious sprinkled on salads or sautéed vegetables, such as green beans, mashed sweet potatoes or squash.

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
This creamy, sweet dressing with a hint of citrus pairs nicely with a spinach and strawberry salad. For 4 servings, toss 1/3 cup (75 mL) dressing with about 8 cups (2 L) greens.

Prairie Honey Oatmeal Muffins
Filled with honey, oats and sunflower seeds, these wholesome muffins are a nutritious start to the day or a tasty pick-me-up snack.

Roast Pork with Cider and Honey
Searing the pork before roasting ensures a golden brown crust. Cipolline onions are small, flat Mediterranean onions found in many supermarkets and Italian markets. You can replace them with 13 small onions, chopping one and roasting the rest.

Photo: Ricotta Honey Cheesecake
Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

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Cooking School

Discover honey