Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week 9 of the 2011 Food Storage Challenge

$10 challenge:
Store 1 kg honey

$20 challenge:
Store 2 kgs honey


Using Honey

Honey can be used in many ways. It makes a good spread for breads, muffins and biscuits and a tasty sandwich filling when mixed with dried fruits, peanut butter or cottage cheese. Honey can be used as a sweetener for fruits and beverages. It also can be used in any food that is sweetened, including frozen desserts, baked products, meat glazes, custards, frostings/icing, pie fillings, cobblers, puddings, candied vegetables and salad dressings.

Some recipes use honey as the main sweetener; other use sugar. Honey can be used to replace some of the sugar called for in many recipes. Use these guidelines for cakes and cookies:

Cakes: one-half of the sugar in a cake recipe can be replaced with honey. For every 1 cup of sugar replaced, leave out 1/4 cup of liquid.

Cookies: The amount of sugar that can be replaced with honey varies with the kind of cookie being made. For brownies, half of the sugar can be replaced. For fruit bars, honey can replace two-thirds of the sugar called for in the recipe. Only one-third of the sugar can be replaced in gingersnaps.

When making either cakes or cookies, first mix the honey with the fat or the liquid. Then mix it thoroughly with the other ingredients. If this is not done, a soggy layer will form on the top of the baked product.

Products made with honey brown faster than foods made with other sweeteners. So when you bake products made with honey, set the oven temperature 15 degrees C lower than what is indicated in the recipe.

Storing Honey

Honey keeps best in a dry place at a cool temperature between 10 and 20 degrees C. Keep it in a tightly covered container so it does not absorb moisture or odors from the air. Honey will start to form crystals as it gets older or if it is refrigerated (or if it is cold pressed - see the bottom of this post). To make it liquid again, place the honey in an open container in a pan of warm water until it is clear. Do not have the honey in a plastic container when you set it in the warm water. If you need to, you can also microwave it on a gentle setting, but it must be used immediately after this. I try and avoid microwaving it though as beneficial bacteria may be killed.

Health and Honey

Honey provides energy to the body. The amounts of nutrients in honey, however, are small when the number of calories in honey are considered. Honey cannot be used as a substitute for cane or beet sugar in a sugar-restricted diet. Honey is composed of the same basic parts as regular sugar, and the body uses it in the same way. Honey and products made with honey must not be fed to infants younger than one year, because honey can cause "infant botulism". Spores of the bacteria that cause botulism are present in honey. When these spores get in to the intestinal tract of an infant, they grow and produce a toxin that results in a serious illness and death. Remember that these spores in honey are not destroyed by regular cooking or baking methods.

The best type of honey to get is raw, pure and not heat treated. This information is from the Co-Op Stop (

The honey we purchase in bulk for the Co-op is cold extracted, raw and organic. Meaning the honey is not heated up to make it super runny for fast production (where important friendly bacteria, nutrients and trace minerals will be lost), it is not heated at any stage of the extraction process. You know it's raw when it candies quickly. The hives are placed in the bush well away from any sniff of civilisation, farms (that spray pesti/herbi/fungicide) or roads. No pesticide strips are used inside the hive and only natural (non chemical) fuels are used (wood/bark etc) for the smoking cans to calm the bees while the combs are removed, thus keeping organic standards.

The processing of Capilano honey is a real eye opener. Our suppliers also provide honey to Capilano. They heat it first of all and keep it at a a constant temperature for some time to ensure the honey won't candy. This removes all the beneficial nutrients, antibacterial qualities and trace elements (everything!) from the honey. Then they mix it with a glucose syrup and colouring - so they can stretch it further, sell it as 'blended' honey and get a premium for it.

I had a 5 kilo tub of the stuff from years and years ago. It had finally candied and what I saw was the original honey had tried to candy and sat down at the bottom. The glucose syrup and colouring had risen to the top (split like a curdled cake batter).

I am personally going to say though, that cold extracted honey is more expensive, and I would rather you purchased honey that is within your budget and be able to feed your family in a crisis situation rather than stressing about having to save for 'more expensive' honey.

I was able to purchase my honey a few years ago (cold extracted) before honey prices went through the roof. I also purchase a kilo tub each time we stop at The Honey Place on our way to the Gold Coast. The bonus is that we are able to taste test all the honey and see which one we like the most.

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