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The Dish on Honey

Honey is the ultimate sweetener that’s made by Mother Nature and is ready to eat immediately after harvest. Honey’s history dates back so far that it’s difficult to trace. No one really knows who the first honey harvesters were, but I’m sure thankful for whoever discovered this perfect natural sweetener.

A lot of today’s honey supply comes from domesticated bees, not wild. It’s slightly easier to harvest the honey from farmed bees than it is to gather wild reserves.

You’ll find honey will be either unpasteurized or pasteurized. Pasteurized varieties have been heated to eliminate any chance of botulism that may be dormant. Pregnant women, babies and those with compromised immune systems need to eat pasteurized honey only.

Different varieties of honey all depend on where the bees are allowed to pollinate. Classic Canadian honey varieties are clover, buckwheat. Here on the West Coast, we’re lucky to have blueberry, raspberry and wildflower honeys as well. BC honey producer Brainy Bee Honey sets their bees up in very remote areas. The bees pollinate mostly coniferous trees and evergreens, so their honey is very rich and dark with hints of the forest. If you’re a traveler, I encourage you to try a local honey wherever your journeys take you. You’ll end up tasting the most incredible honey with flavours that just aren’t possible to create here in Canada.

When storing honey, keep it away from light. If it’s being store for long periods of time, keep it at room temperature or it may start to crystalize. Crystals in honey aren’t anything to worry about, though. Simply heat it and the crystals will dissolve and your honey will be as good as new.

The best way to eat honey is drizzled on a piece of freshly baked and buttered bread. Other than this, the culinary applications of honey are endless. You can make classic cold remedies with honey by dissolving it in hot water and lemon or herbal tea. Once summer hits, start using honey to sweeten refreshing cold beverages. Honey is delicious when used to make baked goods cookies, muffins and cakes to name a few. Experiment by making your own dressings: classic honey mustard shines with a fresh green salad, a honey glaze will take your barbecue chicken to a whole new level. Plain yogurt with honey is a wholesome and delicious way to start the day. Believe it or not, a tiny drop of honey with your favourite cheese—goat cheese or even hard aged cheddar—will really enhance the zesty tangy cheese notes.

One last word of honey wisdom: when you purchase honey, make sure you’re getting a pure product. There are plenty of honey varieties available that have been diluted (and made less expensive) with corn syrup or brown sugar. That’ll bee all for this Dish.

 

With spring on the horizon, Antonio is busy getting to know local producers (including those who gather honey). He figures that establishing connections leads to better ingredients he can use to create delicious dishes for Choices Healthworks Deli.