February 2016
Homeplace & Community

A Sweet Alternative

Tips for cooking with Honey

Honey can add a unique flavor to foods for variety. It also makes products moister when used in baking. The color and flavor of honey depend on the type of blossom from which the bees get their nectar. Honey is produced in most countries and every state in the United States. For a description of some of the most common types of honey and suppliers, you can visit www.nhb.org, the National Honey Board website.

Honey can be used as a glaze, sweetener for fresh fruit, to make honey mustard, on baked goods and many other ways. However, unless a recipe for baked products is designed for honey, some adaptations need to be made when substituting honey for sugar. For best results, use recipes developed for using honey. When substituting honey for granulated sugar, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. With a little experimentation, honey can replace all the sugar in some recipes. When baking with honey, remember the following:

  • Reduce any liquid called for by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used.

  • Add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.

  • Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning.

  • A 12-ounce jar of honey equals a standard measuring cup.

  • When measuring honey, coat the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil before adding the honey. The honey will slide right out.

When storing honey here are some helpful hints:

  • Store honey at room temperature – your kitchen counter or pantry shelf is ideal.

  • Storing honey in the refrigerator accelerates the honey’s crystallization. Crystallization is the natural process in which liquid in honey becomes solid.

  • If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Or, place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave it, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey.

Honey is sometimes considered a health food, so let’s look at some of the facts and myths about honey. Honey has been touted for being more nutritious than sugar or having special medical properties. According to the "American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide," "Ounce for ounce, the nutrient content of honey and table sugar is about the same." Honey does have antioxidants, but not in as high quantities as fruits and vegetables, and honey would not be consumed in the same quantity as fruits and vegetables. However, darker-colored honey contains more antioxidants than lighter-colored varieties.

There are several home remedies such as those for colds, arthritis and wound healing that use honey, but how effective they are has not been documented. Although various studies on specific health benefits of honey are ongoing or have been done, honey should never be given to children less than 1 year of age. Honey may contain botulism spores that will not harm adults due to the high-acid environment in their stomachs, but can cause botulism poisoning in children less than 1 year of age.

Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup honey (or ½ cup honey and ½ cup brown sugar)
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons milk with 1 teaspoon baking soda added
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup nuts or raisins (optional)

Cream together sugar (if used) and shortening. Add eggs, honey, milk and soda. Mix. Add flour, mix again. Stir in oats and nuts or raisins (if used). Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.

Angela Treadaway is a Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety. For any questions on food safety or preparation of vegetables, contact her at 205-410-3696 or your local county Extension office.