Yesterday I was invited to a pretty cool class about honey. It was hosted by the National Honey Board and put on by the lovely PR ladies of Ketchum. I’m not going to lie, I went into this tasting pretty blind, knowing practically nothing about honey. However, I came out more educated and longing to cook with honey. In fact, I was so excited about honey that I went straight home and made myself a Bee’s Knees cocktail (a simple concoction of gin, lemon juice, and honey). Here are some of the things that I learned about honey and more on how to cook with it.
• There are over 300 different types of honey in the US! Each honey has it’s own unique flavor and texture. The flavor is directly related to the type of plant the bees visit when searching for nectar.
• The most popular varietals of honey — clover and Tupelo — are generally milder in taste.
• Alfalfa, avocado, basswood, blueberry, buckwheat, cotton, cranberry, fireweed, goldenrod, macadamia, mesquite, orange blossom, palmetto, pumpkin, raspberry, sage, star thistle, sunflower, and wildflower are other varietals of honey.
• When cooking with honey, try to match it with ingredients that compliment the honey’s flavor.
• Since honey does have a delicate flavor, don’t use it in dishes where it will be overpowered and you won’t be able to taste it.
• Don’t be afraid of cooking with strongly flavored, dark honey. This type of honey makes an excellent pan sauce for pork when combined with coarse mustard. (The honey board had Southern chef David Guas create a bunch of delicious recipes.)
• Honey pairs great with nuts, cheese, and fruit. Mix it with salt and water for a superior brine for poultry and pork. You can also use honey to add sweetness to salad dressings and sauces.
• Baking with honey will preserve the shelf life of the baked good. It traps in moisture and provides an extended life (and deeper color) to cookies and cakes.
• Honey is a truly pure ingredient. There’s no additives or preservatives. The only thing in honey is honey!