Over the last decade or two, honey has experienced a renaissance in popularity for its natural sweetness. Just walk down the cereal aisle of your grocer’s to see how honey has become “a part of this nutritious breakfast.” Honey is also regarded by some as more healthy to eat than refined sugars.
The flavor and color of raw honey is highly influenced by the plants that provided nectar for the honey bees. Most honey sold in stores is from clover, providing a light colored and light flavored product. But there are about as many types of honey as there are pollen-providing plants. The flowering plants in the neighborhood of the hive impart their distinctive taste from their flowers’ nectar. The slow accumulation of nectar transformed into honey results in a unique flavor from beehive to beehive.
Although honey tastes wonderful in its own right, it can be infused with flavor to make a delightful addition to toast or muffins. The simplest way to flavor honey is to make vanilla honey. Take a whole vanilla bean (available in jars in the spice section), slice it open and scrape out the tiny vanilla seeds directly into the honey. Pour into a jar and add the remaining vanilla bean. The vanilla will slowly infuse into the honey over the next week. Serve at breakfast for adding to your toast, pancakes, or tea.
Another option is orange honey. Combine the zest of one orange with two cups of honey. The zest is the outer orange portion of the peel. You can use a vegetable peeler or a zester (yes, it does exist and I have one) to remove this thin layer. Avoid using the inner white membrane as it tends to taste bitter. Mix orange zest into the honey and store in the refrigerator. Stir or shake every day or so to keep the orange zest from floating to the top.
Here’s another recipe for spiced honey. It only takes a few minutes to make but you’ll enjoy it for weeks to come.
- 2 cups honey
- 6 large cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- Place spices in a saucepan and pour in the honey. Using a low setting, heat the honey until warm, stirring to flavor it. Do NOT boil the honey. Pour the warm honey and spices into a large sterile jar.
- Cover tightly and store at room temperature for at least a week to fully season the honey. Then re-warm, strain out the spices, and pour clear honey into gift jars. Use with hot tea or on biscuits.