There are not many food products out there that can give you a full spectrum of satisfaction across the board the way honey can. Being one of the oldest foods in the world with an endless shelf life, there is almost nothing this sweet ingredient cannot deliver.
Honey is like the audacious woman you encounter in your early twenties that shows you what wild abandon feels like. The woman you let slip through your fingers, reminiscing in your old age about her wild nature that once made you feel so alive. She is the old soul you meet with stars in her eyes hidden deep under veils of darkness at a blues club, her face lit by candlelight, her voice speaking of careless adventures of freedom from her youth.
In this same way, honey touches our souls; dancing on our taste buds with rapture and filling our bellies with warm golden fulfillment.
There is a reason we call honey nectar of the Gods. Honey bees have been around for 158 million years. We have artwork of honey etched in ancient Egyptian pyramids being offered to the Gods, our Bibles have scripture describing lands being rich and “…flowing of milk and honey…,” and we have artists’ paintings of honey in Spain thousands of years old. Due to the acidic nature, pH balance, and low water content, this liquid gold is the only food on our planet without an expiration date. Quite literally, this food is immortal.
Before we can appreciate every sensory experience honey has to offer, we should look at how this untouchable King of ingredient is created. Honey bees are marvelous creatures that work tirelessly their whole lives to bring us this wonderful sweetener. The process is less than glamorous but is a testament to its vitality. It takes more than 5,000 flower visits from honey bees to produce one teaspoon of honey. A honey bee will take nectar from a fruit or flower and store it in their tummies to carry back to their hive. Bees have digestive enzymes in their stomachs that break down the nectars complex chemical makeup. Bees will pass the nectar from stomach to stomach through the mouth so more and more enzymes can break down the nectar into a simple sugar like glucose. Nectar at this point becomes liquid and is stored in a cell of the comb. With their wings, bees will lower the temperature to cool the nectar and evaporate any water content, thickening it into honey. Beeswax is used to cover the cell and store it.
Not only is honey nature’s healthiest sweetener, it’s one of the best antibiotics in the world. Honey in its rawest form contains active probiotics that can break down bad bacteria in our gut allowing our bodies pH balance to neutralize. The bacteria in honey breaks down the blood sugar spiking fructose, thus minimizing its absorption by the body and lowering our blood sugar levels. It is known to soothe sore throats and ward off illness when taken daily. Most medicines we associate as pharmaceutical, however, with honey, it’s medicinal properties are only a small part of its talents.
Honey can be used in almost anything needing a little extra sweetness. You can glaze meats like ham or beef, marinate your chicken breast, ornament a rack of lamb or honey-cured ribs. For those of us watching our waistline, honey can sweeten any healthy meal, snack or beverage like oatmeal, toast and breakfast bars, or plain yogurt with active cultures. Honey can also be added to things like ice cream for a light healthy alternative to this dessert. Honey’s smooth squirtable texture makes it easy to spread or squeeze onto any dish, making simple meals instantaneously luscious and rich with gold.
Sales have gone up in recent years due to its popularity, and the ongoing fight to save the bees. Buying jars can fund farmers research to stop colony collapse, a growing concern in our country. Check out the National Honey Locator to find out where you can purchase locally.
Warm up this winter with Manuka hot gin punch.
- 3 teacups of gin
- 3 teacups of Madeira wine
- 3 cloves
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp. of cinnamon powder
- 4 tbs. Manuka Honey UMF 5+
- 6 large lemon and orange twists
- 1 slice of orange
- 3 large chunks of pineapple
- Juice of 2 lemons
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and place on a low heat for 20 minutes without allowing the mixture to boil. Taste and add more honey or lemon if you feel the balance of sweet and sour needs tweaking. Cook for a further 10 minutes before pouring into a teapot and serving hot.