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Sweeten With Honey

From bees to bears and humans too, everyone can agree that honey is not only delicious, but it is a labor of love. 

Nashville, Ark. – From bees to bears and humans too, everyone can agree that honey is not only delicious, but it is a labor of love. While you may think that honey comes from the local Farmer’s Market or grocery store, it actually has a pretty remarkable journey to get there.

            Honey is “manufactured” in one of the world’s most efficient factories – the beehive. Bees may travel as far as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey. The nectar that comes from the flowers is mostly water. Bees fan their wings constantly so the majority of the water evaporates, leaving the sweet, golden honey.

            The color and flavor of the honey differ depending upon the bee’s nectar source (the flowers). With over 300 different kinds of honey, it can be confusing to the consumer to choose the best honey for their recipe. In general, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.

            Once you decide which flavor you prefer, you then must choose the type or form. Liquid honey is the most popular. It is free of visible crystals and is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it is especially convenient for cooking and baking.

            Comb honey is honey that comes as it was produced – in the honey bees’ wax comb. The comb, along with the honey, is edible. Cut comb honey is honey that has been packaged with chunks of the honey comb.

            Honey may be substituted for granulated sugar in most recipes. For best results, only substitute up to ½ of the sugar called for in a recipe. For example, your recipe calls for a cup of sugar, you may substitute up to ½ cup with favorable results. You will need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by one-fourth cup for each cup of honey used in baked goods. In addition, ½ teaspoon baking soda should be to the cake, bread or cookie recipe for each cup of honey added to that recipe. You may want to reduce baking temperature by 25 degrees F to prevent overbrowning.

            Honey is super versatile. Most people only drizzle it as a topping for toast, but it can be used in several different ways. Honey adds a sweet, smooth and distinctive taste to recipes. It also absorbs and retains moisture - qualities that retard drying out and staling of baked goods. Honey’s versatility can be used in appetizers and main dishes to desserts and even drinks. Not only does it give your foods unbeatable flavor, but it is functional. Honey can help balance flavors, add moisture, act as a binder and thickener in sauces, dressings, marinades and dips, as well as enhancing the browning and caramelization of foods.

            Honey should be stored at room temperature, never in the refrigerator. If honey turns cloudy or crystallizes (a natural process), simply place the jar of honey in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Or place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds, until crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey.

            While honey is a safe and wholesome food, it should never be fed to infants less than one year of age. Honey may contain bacterial spores that cause infant botulism, a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies.

            Adults and children may eat honey without getting ill because they have formed defenses, protective bacteria in the gut, which inhibits the growth of bacterial spores. Infants do not have these protective bacteria until about six months of age.

            Honey is delicious and sweet and it can be used in a variety of ways. It’s the only food made by insects that people eat. It is uniquely harvested by beekeepers and nothing tastes sweeter!

            Contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse for more information on cooking with honey or starting a beehive.

Recipe of the Week

            This recipe is perfect for summer since so many of us love to entertain. Great recipe for any backyard party!

Honey BBQ Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

1 lb. chicken drumsticks

½ cup ketchup

½ cup honey

¼ cup canola oil

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon crushed peppercorns

¼ teaspoon hot chili sauce

Salt, to taste

            Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over the drumsticks. Cover the dish and let it stand for about 1 hour in the refrigerator. When ready to grill, remove the drumsticks from the marinade. Discard marinade. Grill drumsticks until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

            Yield: 4 servings

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.