HOW much do you know about the honey bear bottle in your pantry? With recent confusion over pollen and filtration, the National Honey Board (NHB) wants to clarify any misconceptions surrounding this natural ingredient with harvesting, filtration and nutrition facts about honey. With more than 300 varietals of honey in the United States, honey adds its own unique profile to every recipe. Plus, honey has many benefits before and after it gets to the pantry.
An artisanal craft: Harvesting honey is an ancient craft that begins with the honey bees. Honey is made from nectar, gathered by honey bees from flowering plants. The honeycomb is then removed from the beehive and honey is extracted by a beekeeper. Afterward, it is shipped off to a honey packer who places the golden liquid into honey containers, finally landing in a supermarket near you. It’s both an art and science that generates a myriad of honey varieties, ranging in both flavor and appearance.
Filtering honey: To improve clarity and delay crystallization, many honey packers use a filtration method. The honey is warmed up to help it flow through the filters to remove pollen or residues from the beehive. Because filtered honey is cleaner and clearer than nonfiltered honey, it is less likely to crystallize as quickly and it’s more consistent in texture. Once the honey is filtered, it goes through the bottling stage.
“Through our recent Attitude and Usage study1, the National Honey Board has learned that when purchasing honey, 48 percent of consumers say it’s important for honey to be brilliantly clear and golden,” Bruce Boynton, CEO, National Honey Board, said. “Also, based on a recent research study2, we learned that filtering honey did not impact its nutrient content. We think these two studies are important as we continue to educate consumers on the multifaceted journey of harvesting honey to distributing it.”
Pure honey is just that: Read the label: Honey contains only one ingredient: honey. With no added ingredients or preservatives, honey is just honey. Pure honey is sold in several forms: comb, liquid, creamed/whipped and organic. A honey blend or honey syrup should list the other ingredients or sweeteners. Take the stress out of finding pure honey in your area and visit www.honeylocator.com.
Versatility in the Kitchen: Honey can be used as something other than just a sweetener for your tea or on toast. Think of it as a natural flavor booster. Just take one look at the versatility of honey, and it’s easy to see why it’s a secret culinary weapon that can provide balance to any dish, complementing and enhancing a variety of foods and flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory. Honey also masks bitter flavors often found in gluten-free flours. This natural sweetener can also be used as an emulsifier in sauces and dips, a glaze for meats and vegetables, and as a humectant to attract and retain moisture in baked goods.
Whole-body benefits: This versatile ingredient is traditionally found in the kitchen pantry, but can also live on the bathroom vanity, in the gym bag and inside the medicine cabinet. Did you know honey can be used as a natural cough suppressant? A teaspoon or two of honey can be taken to soothe and relieve the irritation of a cough, according to emerging research2. Plus, at approximately 17 grams of carbohydrates per one tablespoon, honey is an effective, all-natural energy booster. Honey is also a humectant. This means it attracts and retains moisture, making it an ideal ingredient for a natural skin care regimen. Add a little honey to your normal moisturizing routine, or enjoy a honey mask every once in a while and reap the benefits of this liquid gold.
From being a vital component in a healthy ecosystem to providing whole-body benefits, honey is a sweetener with so much more. Visit www.storyofhoney.com to watch the minidocumentary The Story of Honey, which captures the many positives of honey.
Prosciutto Honey Wraps
Makes 8 servings
1 large peach*
2½ tsp honey
½ tsp butter
¼ cup goat cheese
1½ cups baby spinach, loosely packed
4 sheets prosciutto
Cut peach in half and remove pit. Prepare grilling sauce by combining ½ teaspoon of honey and ½ teaspoon of butter. Brush peach lightly with mixture. Heat grill to low-medium heat and place both halves onto grill. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly charred but still firm. Cut peach into ½-inch slices (about 12).
Put 1½ teaspoons of goat cheese on each peach slice and place on top of 4 baby spinach leaves. Next, slice the prosciutto lengthwise into 8 strips. Wrap the center of each peach/cheese/spinach bundle with 1 prosciutto strip. Arrange on a serving platter and finish off by drizzling each bundle with ¼ teaspoons of honey.
*Peaches can be canned, for a dressed-up recipe straight out of the cupboard! Grill gently for 30 seconds on each side. North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.
1 National Honey Board, Attitude & Usage Study, 2013. Phone survey of 501 households nationwide, which consisted of men and women between the ages of 21 and 74. Ketchum Global Research & Analytics designed and analyzed this phone survey, fielded by Braun Research. January 5-11, 2013. Margin of Error: 4.4%
2 Ropa, D. “Comparison of Vitamin, Mineral and Antioxidant Levels in Raw and Processed Honey.” 2012. Research project funded by the National Honey Board.