Working with Honey
Tips & Tricks for Working With Honey
Humans and honeybees have been together since the dawn of man. Ancient civilizations relied on honeybees to provide them with remedies for dangerous illness as well as the ability to make mead (the first alcoholic drink known to mankind); while we’ve come to rely on bees for the culinary delights we create each day and inherent health benefits that raw honey and pollen provides.
It’s important to respect our hardworking honeybees. That’s why we want to make sure you understand how to store your honey properly, the best shortcuts for substituting honey in recipes, and educate you on the importance of a honeybee’s amazing contribution to humankind.
Store Honey Properly
Honey naturally wants to be stored at room temperature and in a location away from the light. The pantry is an excellent place to keep honey.
Exposure to cold temperatures may cause a more rapid crystallization, while too much light may result in discoloration. Neither of these issues will impact the quality of your honey, it is still perfectly safe to eat or use, but it could impact the “cosmetics” or the way the honey looks.
There are some tricks for working with honey in recipes and craft projects.
Honey is not a direct substitute for sugar. Honey is more viscous and oftentimes sweeter than raw sugar. This gives you an excellent opportunity to breathe new life into tired recipes and provide excellent health benefits for your family.
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Substituting Raw Honey in Food and Drink Recipes
Because honey is different than white sugar or cane sugar in chemical makeup, it may take some experimentation to get the results you desire. Creating your own recipes is a wonderful way to learn how varied honeys really are, not to mention a great way to learn.
Here are some general rules that will help you modify a favorite recipe or create a healthy new recipe with a unique flavor and dozens of more health benefits.
In most cases, a 12-ounce jar of honey is equivalent to a standard measuring cup.
Substitute honey for about half the sugar your recipe calls for.
When you substitute honey for granulated sugar, begin by substituting only half of the sugar.
For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, replace the sugar with just ½ cup of raw honey. You can always add more if it’s needed.
Measuring honey is easier if you coat your measuring cup with olive oil. This will help you to measure your honey smoothly and with much less mess.
Substituting honey for sugar in baked goods
Honey has a different chemical makeup than sugar, which makes substitutions tricky. These are tips that may help you equal the same viscosity and texture of sugar.
- Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of raw honey used.
- Add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.
- Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning.
- For easy measuring and clean-up, coat measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray before adding honey.
Using Raw Honey in DIY and Craft Recipes
There are many reasons to use honey in natural products, like soaps or lip balms. But, it’s important to remember that due to honey’s unique chemical makeup, you will have to make a few adjustments to help it “play well” with your other ingredients.
Honey is naturally water-soluble. This means that it will dissolve in water, but does not mix well with oils or waxes without some additional help. Rather than dissolve, it will grab ahold of the oil molecules and stay in a solid state. This often results in tiny molecules of honey that fall to the bottom of lip balms or lotion bars. It will not affect the quality, but may affect the cosmetic appeal.
When using honey in an oil-based recipe (such as lip balm, which consists of beeswax, butters and oils), it’s important to use an emulsifier. This will help the honey to “stick” to the wax and blend into oils, just as though it were water.
Honey is also a natural humectant, which means it absorbs water well. This is one reason it’s so appealing to use in crafts.
Tips for making honey work in craft projects
- When using beeswax as your emulsifier, use a stick wand for blending to encourage the honey to bond well with oils and butters.
- Consider including an emulsifying wax (like Polowax™) to help honey stay bonded with oils and butters.
- When using honey in cold-process or hot-process soapmaking, be sure you soap at low temperatures. It can also help if you place your mold into the freezer during saponification. Otherwise, the sugars in honey can cause your soap to overheat, resulting in a “volcano” effect where the soap flows out and over the sides of the mold.