Viscous and fragrant, honey is a natural sweetener and can be used as a spread on bread or toast, or added to sweeten dishes. The flavor, color and consistency of honey varies depending on the flower, nectar and production method used; in general, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.
Forms of honey:
Honey can be found in the form of liquid, comb, cut comb in liquid and whipped honey. Liquid honey is the most commonly used form. It is free of visible crystals and is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining.
Comb honey comes in the form of honey bees’ wax comb. The comb as well as the honey is edible.
Cut comb in liquid honey is a form of liquid honey that has added chunks of honey comb in the jar.
Honey over a period of time naturally forms coarse granules or crystals. Controlling the crystallization process to produce fine crystals, results in a smooth spreadable product known as whipped or creamed honey. A good whipped honey is easy to spread and will not drip from the spoon at room temperature.
Choose the best:
The color, flavor, and even aroma of a particular variety of honey may differ depending on the nectar source of flowers visited by the honey bee. The colors may range from nearly colorless to dark brown, the flavor may vary from delectably mild to distinctively bold, and even the odor of the honey may be mildly reminiscent of the flower.
Honey, which contains about 69 percent glucose and fructose, is a rich source of energy, containing as much as 64 calories per tablespoon. Though, compared to regular sugar which has only 15 calories per tablespoon, honey might appear to be bad for your health as it has a number of factors in its favor. The carbohydrates in honey are more easily digestible than those in regular sugars and this helps in better maintaining the blood-sugar levels and regulating the amount of insulin in the body. Honey contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron, none of which are present in regular sugar. In addition, honey is a good antioxidant that helps the body remove harmful free radicals and improve the body’s immunity.
Honey should be stored at room temperature, in a sealed container. Although the flavor and aroma tends to deteriorate slightly, recommended shelf life is about two years. Honey that has crystallized does not indicate that the product is spoiled or unusable. To eliminate the crystals, just place the honey jar in a larger jar of warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve.
Cooking and baking with honey: Honey has a high fructose content and consequently more sweetening power than sugar. If substituting honey for sugar, it is best to use the ratio of 3:4, where ¾ cup honey is used to replace one cup sugar. For each cup of honey used, reduce the overall volume of other liquids by 1/4 cup and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to balance the extra acidity honey provides.
Honey baked chicken:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. In a shallow baking pan, place one whole chicken, cut into pieces. In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup melted butter, ½ cup honey, ¼ cup prepared mustard, one teaspoon salt and one teaspoon curry powder. Mix and pour the mixture over the chicken. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours, basting every 15 minutes with pan drippings, until the chicken is nicely browned and tender and the juices run clear.