By Becky Dumais
Nothing delights quite like honey. A sticky golden spread on warm toast is a deliciously sweet treat. Just as there are many worker bees involved in the making of the honey, the nectar itself has a unique array of flavours, which change depending on the flowers or honeydew (from trees) each bee visited. Each varietal has a unique flavour, potency, colour and consistency.
Apiaries in the Golden Horseshoe area offer their bee hives wildflower, blueberry, lavender, basswood, goldenrod (yes that weed that makes you sneeze), clover and summer blossom to pollinate. This creates various types and flavors of honey, much like the making of wine. Some describe honey as having scents of lavender or blueberries and flavors of violets, apples or roses.
Honey is graded on a scale from one to three, where one represents the highest quality and three the lowest. This ranking is based on three parameters: moisture content, freedom from foreign matter and flavour. Honey also comes in four different colours: white, golden, amber or dark. The types of flowers the bee has visited usually determine the colour. Light-coloured honey is usually mild, while darker honey has a stronger taste.
Some people prefer raw honey and believe it has greater health benefits. Raw honey is minimally filtered, so as not to destroy the healthy enzymes and other nutrients. Unlike the translucent, golden honey you find in the grocery store, raw honey is solid at room temperature and looks almost milky. That opaque quality means that the honey still contains bee pollen granules, bee propolis (tree sap), vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Look for raw honey that specifically indicates it’s “raw” or “unpasteurized” on the label.
Honey is one of the few products that won’t spoil; however, there are a few tricks to keep your honey looking golden and viscous. To prevent liquid honey from crystallizing, keep it at room temperature or in the freezer. Creamed honey can be kept in the fridge to maintain a firm texture or again, stored at room temperature. If the honey happens to crystallize, place the open jar in a pan of hot water or heat it on low in the microwave.
Ontario Beekeepers – and their hardworking bees – produce some of the best honey in the world. Purchase some through Ontario Beekeeper Association members and retail stores that support the local beekeeping industry. Look for the 100 per cent Ontario Honey logo!
Baking with Honey
Honey lends itself very well to cooking and baking, and can easily be substituted for sugar. If your recipe calls for sugar and liquids, such as milk, use the same measurement of honey as you would sugar, while cutting the amount of liquid by one quarter. To replace one cup of sugar in your cooking, use ¾ cup of honey. Mildly flavoured honey is best, but note that your food will brown more quickly than with sugar, so reduce the cooking temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Did you know that worker bees dance in order to communicate with one another as a way of directing others to nectar or pollen? There are two basic dances: “round” and “waggle”.
Weir’s Lavender & Apiary
223 Weirs Lane, Flamborough
300 Carlisle Road, Carlisle
52 Jerseyville Rd, Brantford
8786 Wellington Rd 50, Acton
1072 Truman Ave., Oakville