Valley Bounty: Honey

Honey has got to be among the weirdest substances we are in the habit of eating regularly: it’s the only food that is produced by insects (not counting the eating of insects themselves), and it never spoils because most microorganisms cannot grow in it. Honey varies considerably with the environment the beehive is kept in—bees collecting nectar from different flower species can produce honey with different flavors and colors (the USDA grades honey color on a 114-point “Pfund scale”). Most commercially available honey is either raw (basically straight out of the beehive) or pasteurized (heated to remove impurities and yeast, which may also alter flavor and color).

Using honey in place of sugar as a sweetener in baked goods and other sweets is a popular choice, in part because most honeys have a lower glycemic index than white sugar (meaning honey raises and lowers you blood sugar more slowly after eating it, reducing the energy boom-and-bust one might feel after eating regular sugar). When using honey as a sweetener in baked goods, I generally use about half as much honey as the recipe calls for sugar, dial back other liquids in the recipe slightly, and reduce the baking temp by about 25°F.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)