Honey–even the word evokes pleasantness.  We love honey–from the delicate flavors of orange blossom and tupelo honey to the stronger more distinctive flavors of buckwheat, chestnut, and mesquite honey.  Our culinary world would not be the same without this magical sweetener.

Honey comes from the sweet nectar of flowers, gathered by bees, and broken down by their saliva into two sugars–glucose and fructose–plus trace minerals.  The dominant source flowers give the honey its flavor.   Commercial processors then filter the honey to remove impurities and heat it to 140 degrees to kill the yeast naturally found in honey.

Often, especially in bread recipes, we like to substitute honey for the sugar.  In doing so, we are adding more liquid to the recipe so we cut back on liquids elsewhere or add more flour.  Also, honey is sweeter than sugar so we add about 3/4’s cup honey for each cup of sugar that we are replacing.

In addition to the wonderful taste of honey and its natural goodness, we use it because it is hygroscopic–that is, it absorbs moisture from the air and makes the baked goods moister.  This additional moisture makes the texture softer and delightful and retards staling.  Give it a try–put some honey in that next batch of bread both for the flavor and the moisture.

In the Healthy Choice of our Bread Shoppe, we offer a number of breads sweetened with honey.  Try them.  Click here to take you to the Healthy Choices section.

Before we leave the subject, let’s talk storage.  Honey is a wonderful addition to your family’s emergency storage plan because it keeps so well.  It will keep for years, although over time, it will darken and become slightly stronger in flavor.  Because honey is high in glucose, it crystallizes easily but crystallization will not affect the flavor.  Store it in small containers, not five gallon pails, then when it crystallizes, you can put a container in a pan of water over very low heat and let the warmth from the water dissolve the sugar.

Now you can buy honey crystals–perfect for baking, on your cereal, or sprinkled on fruit.

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