We have been asked for more background on the overall topic of cooking with honey. We got together to create this post and offer this handful of hints and guidelines. Since each of us cook and write with a different perspective, we hope you will find this article useful.
From Uncle Smokey (the griller)
Honey is great for food cooked on the grill. Especially because it enhances browning and crisping. Avoid using over open flame because the flavor can be lost when charred.
And not just meat – fruit like peaches and pears are delightful cooked on the grill. You can make your dinner and dessert at the same time!
I like to use honey when I cook meat on the smoker. Many barbecue or smoker recipes call for brown sugar, but honey carries subtle extra flavors – better than processed sugar. The flavor seems deeper somehow.
Indoor cooking? Honey works well in an oven too. I use it use for glazing slow-roasted and baked foods to promote surface browning. You have heard of honey-baked ham of course. Perfect example.
Cooking meat indoors or out – my tip is to keep it “Low and Slow.” Keep it under 300F to avoid charring or burning.
From Jacqueline (the science person)
Honey works as a flavor enhancer. A touch of sweet in food that is not overall sweet helps “wake up” the sweet receptors in the mouth. This enriches the taste experience and adds to the “mouth feel” of a dish.
Part of taste is scent. Even if you don’t think you taste or smell anything – your back brain can pick up the rich and complex scents of honey in food and drink.
When using honey to make jams, jellies, or candies, you will have to increase the cooking time to allow the extra liquid to evaporate. For jellies especially, it will take extra time to reach a “hard, rolling boil.”
From Monica (3rd generation beekeeper!)
As a general guide, use less honey than refined sugar because it is almost twice as sweet as sugar.
That said, some honey varieties are even sweeter than others, like tupelo.
In general, replace one cup of sugar with half a cup of honey.
The floral variety of the honey should be considered because it has the power to balance, enhance or impart flavor to other foods. The fascinating number of honey varieties and their versatility in cooking is the reason for thousands of tantalizing honey recipes using out there in the world. And we are doing our best to add to the numbers! [And we are working on a cookbook – hopefully for 2020.]
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