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September - National Honey Month is

September - National Honey Month is

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            Did you know that September is National Honey Month? Why the month of September you might ask? The answer is simply that the end of the month marks the conclusion of the honey collection season for many beekeepers in the northern hemisphere. National Honey Month is a celebratory and promotional event to promote US beekeeping, the beekeeping industry and honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener.

            This awareness month was initiated by The National Honey Board in 1989. In the United States alone, there are over 300 varieties, with colors ranging from clear and mild to a burnt brown with full-bodied, toasty-type flavor.  So there's bound to be a color, flavor, and taste to appeal to even the most discriminating palate. This is because honey will taste different based on the flower and the type of bee involved in the pollination, with honey from an orange blossom tasting completely different from honey from the fertilization of a eucalyptus tree blossom.

            Prehistoric bees have been around for over 14 million years, with bees and the cultivation of honey first appearing in cave paintings in Valencia, Spain as far back as 8,000 years ago - dating the paintings to the Mesolithic period. From the days of Egypt, ancient Greece, Israel and Mesopotamia, history documents the use of honey as both a sweetener and medicinal aide. As a natural sweetener, honey has about the same fructose and glucose as sugar.   The ancient Greeks, they believed that an adequate consumption of honey would promote longer life. Even the Prophet Mohammed had glorious praise for the healing powers of honey.

             A typical honey profile includes fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose, water, higher sugars, and ash, with traces of iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chlorine, potassium, and magnesium. Additionally, honey presents with a slightly acidic pH level (between 3.2 and 4.5). It is believed that this is what helps stymie the growth of bacteria.

            Honey factoids

  • In order for a honeybee to make one pound of honey, it must tap 2 million flowers.
  • The USDA cautions that children under one should not eat honey because of less developed digestive systems that could contact botulism.
  • While there is no official U.S. federal definition of raw honey, the National Honey Board defines raw honey as “honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without adding heat.”

          Most of us know honey as a sweet, golden liquid. However, honey can be found in a variety of forms. Comb honey is honey in its original form; that is, honey inside of the honeycomb.  The beeswax comb is edible!  Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honey comb in the jar. This is also known as a liquid-cut comb combination.-Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it’s especially convenient for cooking and baking. Most of the honey produced in the United States is sold in the liquid form. Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized.  It is safe to eat.  While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as cremed honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly. In many countries around the world, whipped honey is preferred to the liquid form especially at breakfast time.

            How do I substitute honey for sugar?  When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. For baked goods, make sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning; reduce any liquid called for by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used. Because of its high fructose content, honey has higher sweetening power than sugar. This means you can use less honey than sugar to achieve the desired sweetness. Try the following use for honey, from the National Honey Board.

 

Pumpkin Honey Bread

            Ingredients:

1 cup - honey

1/2 cup - butter or margarine, softened

1 can (16 oz.) - solid-pack pumpkin

4 -eggs

4 cups - flour

4 teaspoons - baking powder

2 teaspoons - ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons - ground ginger

1 teaspoon - baking soda

1 teaspoon - salt

1 teaspoon - ground nutmeg

 

            In large bowl, cream honey with butter until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Sift together remaining ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Divide batter equally between two well-greased 9 x5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes; invert pans to remove loaves and allow to finish cooling on racks. Nutritional Information: 261 calories per serving of 1/8th loaf; 7.5 grams fat, 5.4 grams protein.

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