There’s so much to learn, appreciate and love about honey. Here are just a few tips for enjoying this sweet treat from the bees.
- Identify raw honey from filtered honey. Raw honey is minimally processed, so it retains more natural pollen and enzymes. Filtered honey is more processed and loses its pollen and enzymes — giving it a clear, shiny appearance.
- Appreciate crystallization. Most honey will naturally solidify (or crystallize) over time. This occurs more quickly in raw honey due to its higher pollen content and lesser processing. Crystallized honey is still perfectly enjoyable.
- Check out the color. When it comes to color, honey is kind of like wine. For a bolder flavor, choose a darker honey. Use lighter colored honey when you want to sweeten something without overpowering it.
- Try the different floral varieties. Honey flavor depends on the flowers bees have visited. For example, orange blossom nectar provides the citrus notes in orange blossom honey; berry honey gets its natural flavor from bees foraging berry fields.
- Identify the origin and grade. Honey sourced from countries known to illegitimately import into the U.S. often don’t provide the place of origin, nor do they label it with a USDA grade.
- Choose True Source Certified® honey. Look for the True Source Certified label. This third-party certification confirms that the honey product is ethicallyand legally sourced, and that the honey originated where it says it did.
- Stir it into your favorite beverages. Enhance the flavor of hot or cold drinks by stirring honey into tea, coffee, cocoa, lemonade and smoothies. It also adds a sweet complexity to cocktails in place of simple syrup.
- Give your breakfast a boost. Drizzle honey in oatmeal or cereal. Slather it on toast, biscuits, bagels, muffins, pancakes — you get the point. Tip: Crystallized honey has a thicker texture that’s perfect for easy spreading.
- Pair it with dairy (or dairy alternatives). Stir it into yogurt, spoon it over ice cream, swirl it into whipped butter, and savor it with artisan cheeses. Try adding a spoonful of honey in a cup of warm milk for a comforting drink.
- Combine with fruit for a simple snack or dessert. Whip up an easy fruit dip with honey and yogurt — or just drizzle honey on assorted fresh fruit. For a caramelized treat, baste it onto grilled fruits like peaches, plums and pineapple.
- Sweeten your baked goods naturally. Substitute honey for sugar when baking. Honey is actually sweeter than cane sugar, so you’ll likely need less than the recipe calls for — check out the general guidelines in the next section!
- Complement the flavors of your main course. Lend a hint of sweetness to savory marinades, glazes and dipping sauces for poultry, red meats and seafood. Brush honey on ribs, chops and roasts toward the end of cooking.
Honey adds natural sweetness and moisture to keep that bakery-fresh taste longer. But honey is actually 25%–50% sweeter than cane sugar, so it’s not an equal swap.Follow these guidelines when using honey instead of sugar in baked goods recipes:
- Replace each cup of sugar with 2/3 to 3/4 cup of honey.
- For each cup of honey, reduce other liquid the recipe calls for by 1/4 cup.
- Add 1/4 tsp. of baking soda per cup of honey used.
- Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning.
Crystallization occurs over time in most honey, but more quickly in raw honey. The floral source that bees visit actually influences the rate of this natural process. While crystallized honey is still perfectly edible and enjoyable, you may prefer it smooth and pourable again. Here’s how to re-liquefy it:
- Pour a couple inches of water into a pot, and heat on the stove until it’s almost boiling.
- Place the jar of crystallized honey in the pot of water.
- Keep an eye on it until the crystals dissolve, then carefully remove the jar (it will be hot)
Cold temperatures can also speed up the rate of crystallization in honey. Keep your honey stored at room temperature — not in the fridge, unless you prefer crystallized honey!