“Honey honey, how you thrill me, ah-hah, honey honey”… ABBA had it right. Honey is thrilling, and delicious. Produced by the humble honey bee, it is an ancient sweetener and medicine.
How is honey made?
Honey begins as flower nectar. The flowers make a sweet, sugary liquid for the purpose of attracting insects, like the honeybee, to them. In this symbiotic relationship, the bee gets a treat and the flower gets its pollen spread. The pollen sticks to the bee’s furry body, and it can carry the pollen miles away to fertilize another flower.
The worker bees bring the nectar back to the hive, where they store it in the honey combs. The sugars are naturally broken down, and evaporation turns the liquid into the thick, gold goodness we know as honey. Humans have found ways to harvest excess honey while not harming the bees and leaving more than enough for the hive. Good news for us all!
Watch this clip from How It’s Made, in less than 5 minutes, explain how honey is made, harvested, and bottled in our modern world. You could also check out Ford’s Honey Farm, or the National
Honey Board website for more info.
What can you do with honey?
Honey is a versatile thing. Honey is a great, natural sweetener. Thus, you can use it to replace sugar or other sweeteners in many things. It can be used as a sweetener in beverages and baked goods, such as a sweetener and binding agent in granola bars, or mixed with balsamic vinegar and drizzled over strawberries.
A teaspoon of honey in warm milk will help rid you of insomnia, at least I believe so. A tablespoon (or four) of honey makes a warm cup of tea positively sing. Honey can be used in cooking as part of a tropical marinade, in a dressing for coleslaw, or as a snack like putting honey on a sweet potato.
I got my awesome honey from Bjorn’s Colorado Honey at the Cherry Creek Farmer’s Market which I recently reviewed. You can find them in Boulder, CO at 845 Mohawk Dr. or many Colorado farmer’s markets. The woman running the stand was very kind, and passionate about bees and the good they do in the world.
Her company not only sells local raw honey, but also makes many beeswax products and proplis based cosmetics. What is propolis? you may ask.
According to Wikipedia, propolis is a resinous mixture bees collect and use to seal small gaps in their hive. Larger gaps are usually sealed with wax. Beeswax is used in many cosmetic products, but propolis largely has gone to waste. Until now.
I tried a sample of this hand cream, and it truly is wonderful. It instantly makes your skin feel smooth and supple, and smells clean without any perfumy fragrance.
The honey itself was only $10 for a 16 oz jar. To order some yourself, email pontus. jacobson @ gmail. com. The viscous liquid gold is wonderful on just about anything; particularly drizzled over yogurt, granola, and fresh seasonal fruit.
Honey nutritional facts
Honey is more than just sugar. Per 1 tbsp, it has about 60 calories, zero fat and cholesterol, 17 g of carbs (16 of which are sugar), but also has trace vitamins and minerals, as well as antibacterial properties which may help the healing process for cuts or bites.
Honey also has beauty benefits. The Huffington Post lists 9 “sweet” ways you can use honey in your beauty routine for frugal fixes, from dry hair to chapped lips.
It is a popular belief that honey can help cure seasonal allergies. The logic behind this claim is that bees use nectar and collect pollen from the flowers which are blooming in your area. Thus the honey will contain small amounts of this pollen. When you eat local honey, your immune system recognizes these foreign particles and fights them. Then when you encounter them again in nature, you should be fortified with pre-made anti-allergens.
The problem is, that is false. Simply eating small amounts of local honey cannot cure allergies. Reasons include the fact that bees carry back many types of pollen and contaminants, so you cannot have honey made from say only ragweed pollen. Also allergies are typically caused by allergens blowing in the wind, not the kind the bees collect on their bodies. This just means honey belongs in your kitchen, not your medicine cabinet.
For official information, visit the Mayo Clinic website, WebMD.com, or How Stuff Works: Health page.
What is your favorite way to use honey?