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Sweet Choice of Honey

Food Fitness to Nourish Your Body

Dozens of varieties of honey are produced in the United States. Some, like creamed honey, are best used as spreads on bread, while others make delightful substitutes for sugar in cooking. The most healthful that we know of is organic.

If you cannot find a particular variety in your local store, check the National Honey Board Web site for information on suppliers: National Honey Board.

Forms: Peruse the honey section in a large supermarket, and you are likely to find honey in a variety of styles.

Sweet Choice of Honey in a Bowl

  • Liquid honey is extracted from the comb, filtered and packed into jars.
  • Creamed or spun honey is honey that has been spun to create a thick, creamy texture that is ideal for spreading.
  • Comb honey is packaged in the comb, just as it comes from the hive. Squares of larger comb are cut and fitted into boxes. The beeswax of the honeycomb is completely edible and comb honey can be eaten like chewy candy. Sometimes you will find a jar of liquid honey to which a piece of cut comb has been added.

Honey Flavors

The specific flavor of each honey depends on the particular nectar the bees gather. When bees collect nectar from large growths of one certain blossom, the honey is labeled "single-flower" honey; examples are clover, lavender, sunflower and star thistle. Sometimes bees gather nectar from a variety of sources, making multi-floral honey called "wildflower". Flavors range from light and fruity to tangy and rich.

As a general rule, light-colored honey is mild in flavor, while dark honey is more assertive. Clover, acacia, basswood and orange blossom are some of the lighter varieties; they make wonderful sweeteners for cereal, tea, fruit salads and salad dressings. In the middle range, you find star thistle, Florida tupelo, sage, alfalfa and honeys from berry blossoms, which add a stronger flavor. Dark honey, such as buckwheat, is used like brown sugar or molasses; it works well on oatmeal and in pancakes and whole-grain breads. Flavored honeys are those to which flavoring agents, such as fruit or herb essences, have been added.

Honey Taste Test

Doing a honey taste test will help you discover the distinctive flavor differences between varieties and you can choose the one that pleases you most. It only takes a few minutes. When you open the jar, notice the aroma of the honey, which is strongest at this point. Spoon out a small amount of the honey, less than one-eighth teaspoon, and taste it slowly, noticing how the flavor spreads in your mouth. Notice, too, the aftertaste, which is an important component in the flavor of honey.

If you are comparing several different kinds of honey -- one each of the light, medium and dark varieties makes an interesting combination - give your palate a short rest between tastes. Dairy products help you taste the nuances of a particular honey; try honey drizzled on plain yogurt.

Cooking with Ease

Use a cooking spray or oil the measuring cup next time you need to measure honey. This will eliminate the messy process of scraping the cup.

Healthy Honey Hints

Find some energy. A teaspoon of honey added to your beverage can give you a little energy boost thanks to the natural sugars.

Lose weight. Honey is said to speed up the metabolism so why not add a teaspoon or two to your morning tea or spread some on wheat toast or fruit.

Soothe a sore throat. Honey can help coat a scratchy and sore throat and help promote healing. Enjoy a spoonful next time your throat is aching.

Relieve over indulgence. Over-indulgence is a kind way of saying you enjoyed a little too much alcohol. Enjoy some honey mixed with warm water to help counteract the unpleasant symptoms of a hangover.

Fight allergies. By consuming locally created honey you may be able to better fight seasonal allergies and avoid the symptoms that come with them. Some allergy sufferers enjoy a teaspoon a day to help combat seasonal allergies.

Sleep well. Honey can help you fight off insomnia, so enjoy a teaspoon in some warm milk before lying down and enjoy a peaceful slumber.

Cooking Hints


  • Use liquid honey, not creamed or comb, in cooking.
  • Honey tastes sweeter than sugar. When substituting honey for sugar (other than in baked goods), start by using half as much honey as sugar; then adjust to taste. Choose a mild honey when you want to sweeten a dish without making a major flavor change.
  • In baking, honey changes the texture of breads and cakes and it keeps them from going stale. To substitute honey for sugar in baked goods, begin by replacing half the sugar called for with honey. For example, if a cake recipe calls for 2-cups of sugar, use 1-cup of honey and 1-cup of sugar. For every cup of honey used, reduce the liquid in the recipe one-quarter cup and add one-half teaspoon baking soda. Because honey causes baked goods to brown faster than sugar, you need to reduce the oven temperature called for in the original recipe by 25-degrees.
  • Almost all honey crystallizes; it is a natural change and does not mean the honey has spoiled. Some packers strain and heat the honey to slow the crystallization process, but doing so can reduce the aroma and flavor of the honey. To re-liquefy crystallized honey, place it in a container of warmed water and allow to stand several hours or overnight. Repeat as necessary.

Honey Cardamom Cake with Orange Blossom Cream Recipe

Honey lends its distinctive flavor to this delicately spiced, wonderfully moist cake. It is lovely with just a dollop of honeyed whipped cream, or serve with sliced peaches or nectarines. Use orange blossom honey or another mild honey, such as clover.

Slice of honey cake with fork

3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 /2 teaspoon salt
3 /4 cup mild honey
1 /2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 /4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk

1 /3 cup honey
1 /3 cup hot water

2 cups whipping cream
1 /4 cup orange blossom honey

Heat oven to 325-degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cardamom and one-half teaspoon salt.
In large bowl, beat three-quarter cup honey and butter at medium speed two minutes. Slowly add sugar, beating constantly. Add eggs one at a time, beating one minute after each addition. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Spread evenly in pan.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack ten minutes.
With a long wooden skewer, poke holes in cake, poking through to bottom of pan. Brush cake with syrup. Cool completely.
In medium bowl, beat cream at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add one-quarter cup honey, beating just until blended. Serve cake with cream. Store in refrigerator.
Recipe makes 12 servings.

Nutrition per serving:; Calories: 475; Total Fat: 22g; Saturated fat: 13.5g; Protein: 6g; Carbohydrate: 65g; Cholesterol: 120mg; Sodium: 285mg; Fiber: .5g

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Chewy Honey Bars

This very low-tech recipe fits right into summer schedules, when you want to spend plenty of time outdoors. You use only a small saucepan, bowl, spoon and pan to make chewy bar cookies that travel and keep well.

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1 /2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash cloves
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup mild or dark honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 325-degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. In small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in honey until well blended. Let stand until saucepan is just warm to the touch.
Whisk egg into honey mixture. Stir in vanilla and flour mixture. Batter should be smooth and thin. Stir in walnuts. Pour into pan.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with a few crumbs remaining. Cool in pan. (Bars will sink slightly as they cool). Store in airtight container.
Recipe makes 16 bars.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 160; Total Fat: 8g; Saturated Fat: 2.5g; Protein: 2.5g; Carbohydrate: 21.5g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 160mg; Fiber: 0.5g

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Freebie: 7 Days 7 Ways to Serve Honey

Seven days of honey treats that even kids will love! Brought to you courtesy of the National Honey Board.

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Download 7 Days 7 Ways

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