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Ingredient

Honey

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What is it?

Sweet, thick, and viscous honey is made from nectar by bees. The kind of blossom from which the bees get their nectar determines a honey’s flavor as well as its color. Sweet, slightly floral tasting honeys, like those made from clover and alfalfa add a delicate sweetness to desserts and fruit dishes and are good all-purpose honeys.

More savory honeys, such as those collected from herbs like rosemary and thyme, can add an aromatic flavor to meat, poultry, and vegetables. You’ll most often find honey sold in jars in liquid form.

Creamed or spun honey is made by finely crystallizing the honey until it’s thick and creamy; it’s wonderful spread on toast. Comb honey is housed in its beeswax comb, and cut comb is liquid honey with chunks of the edible comb suspended in it.

Don’t have it?

Though honey is best used in recipes that call for it, you can try using it in baking recipes that call for granulated sugar with a few adjustments: Use 1 part honey for every 1-1/4 parts sugar. Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup. Add 1/2 tsp. baking soda for each cup of honey to counter its acidity and weight. Turn the oven down by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning.

How to choose:

Some commercial blends combine a variety of honeys for consistent flavor and color. Other honeys, often called wildflower honeys, aren’t blended but are made from the nectar of several different or unidentified flowers. But the most pronounced flavors come about when beekeepers position their bees to take nectar from just one variety of blossom. The colors of “single-flower” honeys range from practically clear acacia honey to almost black buckwheat. Generally, the darker the honey, the stronger the flavor.

How to prep:

Like molasses, honey can be a pain to measure because it sticks in the measuring spoon or cup. But if you lightly coat that measuring cup or spoon with a little oil or cooking spray first, it will slide right back out.

How to store:

Store honey in an airtight container at room temperature and it will last for two years or longer. Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture. If the jar is left open, the honey can absorb water from the air, causing yeast to grow and ferment the honey’s sugars. Cold temperatures cause honey to crystallize. To get it back to liquid form, put the jar in warm (not boiling) water until the crystals dissolve.

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