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Honey Guide

From deep-flavored buckwheat honey to delicate linden honey, this golden nectar is prized around the world.




Types of Honey

Honey can be mild or spicy, buttery, fruity, herbal, or woodsy, depending on the source of the nectar. The general rule is: the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.

  • Clover honey--the most common type--is light and neutral. It will sweeten, but not dominate, a recipe.
  • Orange blossom honey is also a good, light floral choice to use in recipes.
  • Buckwheat honey has a bold, musky flavor (think of buckwheat pancakes).
  • Linden honey is characterized by its herbal and aromatic notes.

Honeycomb is fun as a novelty--try spreading it on toast--but it's not useful in recipes. Honey butters and creams are generally in a crystallized and semi-solid form; they're best used as spreads, as they tend to be more expensive than liquid honey.


Honey Recipes

Honey is a wonderful ingredient in many sweet and savory applications--as well as in beer and fermented as wine.

Honey can also be infused with herbs such as rosemary, thyme or sage. These flavored honeys are especially nice for glazing meats.


Baking with Honey

Honey is the original all-natural, unprocessed sweetener. And, since it's sweeter than white sugar, you can use less of it when baking:

  • Use ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon of honey for every cup of sugar
  • Decrease the liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup
  • Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of honey
  • Reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees

Another reason honey is great to use when baking is because it's hygroscopic (water-attracting): it absorbs moisture from the air, keeping your baked goods moist and delicious for days.


Storage and Safety

Honey is relatively shelf-stable, but it should be stored in an air-tight jar. Heat will cause it to degrade over time, so you may wish to store your honey in the refrigerator if you don't eat it very often. If your honey has crystallized, gently heat it in a pan of simmering water (or uncap the jar and microwave on medium power until fluid, checking every 30 seconds) to restore its consistency.

Note: Never give honey to children younger than one year old. Honey may contain trace amounts of botulism spores. While these spores are harmless to most people, immature digestive systems are susceptible. Infants can develop breathing problems or paralysis. (Pasteurization or cooking will not destroy the spores.)

    Comments
    tiger 
    Mar. 3, 2010 9:48 pm
    I use at least a tablespoon of pure honey a day to keep my allergies in control. It is wonderful mixed into my wheat germ and ground flaxseed for breakfast with fresh fruit! Tiger
     
    Mar. 4, 2010 7:09 am
    I read about the healing properties of raw wild pure honey in Mother Earth News magazine some 40 years ago and have used it to treat wounds ever since. It promotes rapid healing with minimal scarring and prevents infection. Bacteria will not grow in honey. Google the subject for more information. It must be raw wild pure honey. I use Aunt Sue's because it's widely available in stores.
     
    jo nutritionist 
    Mar. 4, 2010 7:23 am
    It is not advisable to bake with honey - when subjected to the high heat of baking, it can form toxic compounds. Much better to use other sweeteners such as date sugar or maple syrup in baking. Honey can be used in tea if you put the honey in once it's at a comfortable drinking temperature!
     
    Jeanette O 
    Mar. 5, 2010 9:50 pm
    So what you're saying is that you should never use honey in any kind of baking? At what temp will it form toxic compounds? There are a lot of recipes that have honey in them and have been around for many years and widely used and now you're saying we shouldn't be using those recipes. Is there more information on this subject?
     
    Sarasue 
    Mar. 6, 2010 3:15 pm
    I'm with Jeanette. I've NEVER heard of a problem with honey forming toxic compounds. More info needed before I'll believe that.
     
    Mar. 20, 2010 8:49 am
    do some quick research on honey and youll find that the only time it's deadly is if the honey was contaminated by spores from the soil. And even then it's only a danger to infants.
     
    heather 
    May 19, 2010 6:02 am
    Honey is only dangerous to infants who do not have the normal intestinal flora to control the botuli endospores. No matter how you heat it, an adults intestinal tract has the flora to control any kind of botulinum spores. Learned this in A and P for Nursing Majors!
     
    Rebecca 
    Jul. 22, 2010 11:47 am
    I've learned over the years to use local honey to help the immune system fight allergens in the air. I had a problem in my 20's but never again.
     
    Nov. 12, 2010 3:08 pm
    The idea that heated honey becomes 'toxic' comes from Ayurvedic teachings and is not, as far as I can tell, supported by science. There's an article on it here:
http://www.grist.org/article/2009-10-28-heat-makes-honey-toxic-and-other-myths-of-the-hive
     
    leslie 
    Jan. 31, 2011 7:41 am
    I have never heard that honey turns toxic when baked either. And honey has been used for various medical problems over the years. Hot tea and honey for colds. However, raw honey should not be served to children under the age of a year since it does contain some micro organism that can cause problems. That is documented and is generally on the warning label of the product.
     
    AmyRobin 
    Apr. 6, 2011 9:06 pm
    I just wanted to say I love honey! I put in my coffee every morning (our local brand - RED DIAMOND Coffee - it tastes like Dunkin Donuts brand but fresher and cheaper) sooo good! I can't drink my coffee with sugar anymore. I also use honey in place of the small amount of sugar called for in any spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce recipes. Honey is rather astringent so it mellows the acidity in the tomatoes perfectly without over doing it. This change makes a surprising difference. I use a simple clover honey (North American Honey brand becuse of the great price)and just squeeze a big swirl into a large batch of spaghetti sauce. Try it, you be hooked! I personally don't care for raw honey and I think that people who aren't used to honey should ease into it with clover honey and may eventually acquire a taste for the strong or strange stuff:) I would also like to add that if honey was toxic when hot then I would have croaked years ago just from all the coffee and the occasional hot tod
     
    I'mabakernotacook 
    Apr. 7, 2011 4:32 am
    Jo calls herself a "nutritionist," but her warning that honey can form "toxic compounds" when exposed to the high heat of baking is just patently ridiculous. People have been baking with honey for ages, with no ill effects. Honey toxicity applies only to infants. I love honey and use it in my tea. I bake with it occasionally, but that's only because, at the moment, I don't have many recipes that use it, but I'll be getting more because honey is such a nice alternative to granulated sugar in a recipe.
     
    Sonya K 
    Apr. 7, 2011 10:27 am
    Don't store honey in the refrigerator, it will only cause it to crystallize faster. Good honey never spoils. They have found honey in the tombs of Egypt and it is still edible!
     
    Apr. 7, 2011 3:48 pm
    I have been cooking & bakeing with honey for 50 years. Never any ill effects. Do MORE research Jo!
     
    brenda 
    Apr. 7, 2011 6:34 pm
    Is raw honey always cream color and not what we tend to see in the stores of yellowish color. I was told raw honey was good for you.But I got a bottle one time and told it was raw yet the only time I see raw honey it seems to be cream color I'm lost. please advise thanks.
     
    Cj 
    Apr. 8, 2011 5:17 am
    Honey is perfect facial cream. Mix 1 tbsp of honey and leftover coffee ground . Apply on face and leave for 10 minutes and rinse. Great exfoliation effect! Skin looks luminous and smooth!
     
    Apr. 9, 2011 5:11 pm
    I have no allergies, but bad sinuses. My father has this problem too, and despite nasal rinses and sprays, we both have a sinus infection come allergy season every year. I know honey helps allergies, but will it help us?
     
    May 16, 2011 7:48 am
    I grew up with my dad keeping bees..... there is NOTHING like honey from a beehive. The smell of honey filling my house when we separated it from the wax was so unbeeelievable (pardon the pun!)
     
    Susan C-T 
    May 16, 2011 2:10 pm
    If you can find it, try apple blossom honey. It is delicate and not as sweet as some other honeys and simply delectable on biscuits, toast, and in hot tea!
     
    HiYou 
    May 16, 2011 3:51 pm
    You can sometimes use honey as a sub for brown sugar. Sometimes only! It also is a good exfoliating lotion is combine it with some yogurt and just a touch of sugar.
     
    May 16, 2011 4:32 pm
    there's a place in my hometown that sells sage honey. it's the best becuz it doesn't crystalize! its awesome!!!!!!
     
    May 17, 2011 4:27 am
    yes A.H. Wiggle if u use at least a teaspoon of raw honey everyday (the honey needs to come from your general area) you will notice a difference in your allergy problem. Raw honey has tiny bits of the local pollen in it. Your body will build up a resistance to the pollen. I use it everyday in my coffee and also on toast for breakfast. No allergy problems anymore. It takes a while to work but u will see a change.
     
    BJHEIDER 
    May 17, 2011 6:23 am
    The lighter the honey the more mild the flavor. The darker, the more robust the flavor. This is why clover honey is usually used in baking.All honey will crystallize unless it has been heated over 120 degrees (or pastuerized). Raw honey has not been heated and therefore has all the enzymes and other good stuff that makes it good for allergies. This may be what Jo was thinking when she said honey becomes toxic when heated- it's not toxic, but has lost the stuff that makes honey so good for you. The best honey is usually found from local beeekeepers (this is best for local allergies. Be careful of cheap honey found at grocery stores- it may have originally come from China and been mixed with corn syrup.
     
    May 17, 2011 2:16 pm
    My roommate really got me hooked on honey. I love going to the mountains here in NC and getting their local sourwood honey. It's fantastic! I use honey and crushed aspirin on my face to control the occasional zit. The honey softens my skin, and the aspirin, which is acetylsalicylic acid (related to the acne medicine) dries up the blemish. Of course, honey is also my favorite in herbal teas, too!
     
    Jeffy 
    May 18, 2011 12:44 am
    Maybe jo the nutritionist is confusing honey with olive oil. Sometimes our memory does funny things like that!
     
    Lucy 
    May 18, 2011 7:13 am
    I just wanted to thank AmyRobin for the suggestion to add honey to coffee. WOW! Amazing!!
     
    WARDMINDY 
    May 18, 2011 3:27 pm
    Totally disagree with Jo. My husband is a beekeeper and I have cooked with honey of every type for many years. No ill effects! Also I just use the same amount of honey as I would sugar, everything turns out great!
     
    kates0313 
    May 18, 2011 8:34 pm
    This is our first year with bee hives so hopefully we will get honey production. With my children's food allergies, honey has been a great substitute in their diets, now we won't have to spend so much to get it!
     
    May 19, 2011 4:45 pm
    Love, love, love honey, we just tried a chestnut honey, has almost a borderline bitter but nutty taste but awesome in tea and peanut butter/honey sandwiches. We love trying out different kinds
     
    May 22, 2011 8:08 am
    One of my favorites is Orange Blossom honey!! I love the smell of orange blossoms during spring and the honey tastes like you are sucking on a blossom!! SOOO GOOOD!!! :)
     
    May 22, 2011 4:45 pm
    One of the best types of honey I ever had was in Japan. It was the local honey of Mia, and it was AWESOME!!! Every morning i would have toast with honey.... by far the best breakfast of my teen yaers. Also, I use a honey, evoo, and sugar mix as a body and face scrub. Since I started using it, I haven't used nearly as much lotion, and my face is so clear. I LOVE honey!!! (by the way the scrub has also helped my son's excema)
     
    Apr. 21, 2012 12:45 pm
    Wow ~ How interesting. I had no idea how many varieties of honey are out there. I will certainly start to shop around looking to see what options I can try. More than anything this article will save me money. I always thought that once honey crystalized it needed throwing out. (something I always do) now thankfully I now that a few seconds in the microwave and it will be fully restored. Thank you AR!
     
    Granna 
    Sep. 17, 2012 12:29 pm
    There is also Tulip blossum honey from the "tulipPopular Tree flowers. We just got some of it and the comb in Lenore W.Va. from a man named Tom Mullens that collects, processes, and sell it.
     
    Sep. 17, 2012 5:46 pm
    I have been happily experimenting with powdered honey I got at the Asian market. Stirred into plain Greek style yogurt it is delightful. Thanks - Sharon
     
    Sep. 19, 2012 1:28 pm
    My favorite honey is any of the dark type...buckwheat or avacado are the best!
     
    Sep. 21, 2012 2:28 am
    Just a heads for up for the honey lovers among us. I buy my organic raw honey from Amazon. Get an order every month through their subscribe and save for a great price. I enjoyed reading all your comments. I always have raw honey on hand. Use it every day in my green tea, as the sweetner in the soft "ice cream" I make in my Ninja, and now I'm going to try baking with it. I would really like to throw all other sugars aways but that's not quite practicle.
     
    Sep. 23, 2012 4:23 am
    Once I had real (raw, from a beekeeper) honey, I just couldn't go back to store-bought, and you probably won't either! That's what got me into beekeeping, which has become a passion for me. Three hives later, we use honey in place of sugar in almost everything (either half the amount or all). I would be cautious about buying honey mail order, since you would miss out on any allergy alleviation benefits if it's not local to where you live and, like in the store, you don't really know where it's from or how the honey's been treated before you buy it. Your local beekeepers are out there and we're happy to share! Just search the internet for local bee clubs.
     
    cookingmissy 
    Sep. 23, 2012 10:52 am
    Another great type is the lavender flower honey. It's light and delicious. I give it to my son who has asthma because some say that it helps people with respiratory conditions.
     
    Ruby 
    Sep. 23, 2012 11:45 pm
    I read that you can bring honey back after it starts to crystalize by putting the jar in a pot of warm, not hot, water on the stove on low heat and leave it there until it comes back and I have done this. Just keep checking it. I use to heat it on low in the microwave to do the same thing, but after reading that a microwave will kill the enzimes, I've discontinued that.
     
    LaRoosh 
    Mar. 24, 2013 8:43 pm
    I need a lo glycemic honey. Black Locust (hard to find) Yellow Box, is another BUT where can I buy them, and under what name ?? I have tried, WFs, PCC, TraderJ, but I can only find clover and the many normal ones. Thanks.
     
    bright 
    Dec. 8, 2013 1:44 pm
    How can you tell if honey is pure or sugar added? I would appreciate it, if anyone has an answer.
     
    ttompson 
    Apr. 22, 2014 5:52 pm
    I love cooking with honey. I always have a big bottle of it. I love honey butter as well but like to make it myself most the time.
     
     
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