Honey

Honey is actually a sugary secretion by the bees - Apis mellifera L., a familiar insect belonging to the Apidae family - in the honeycomb. The process of preparing honey is, however, an arduous one. Initially, the worker bee moves from one flower to another collecting nectar and stores it up in its honey-bag also known as the 'crop'. Following this, secretions from the bee's glands in its head and thorax comes into action with the nectar and results into several changes. During the process, sucrose or cane sugar in the nectar is converted into simple sugar. On its return to its hive, the honeybee deposits the gelatinous liquid, now known as honey, in the wax combs. It is from here that the commercial producers of honey extract the material and sell it in the market.

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According to The Edinburgh New Dispensatory, the 1811 edition, honey has been used as an effective medicine since the most primitive times. Elaborating on the usefulness of honey, the book asserts that it is an outstanding substance for rinsing the throat as it smoothes the progress of expectoration of viscid phlegm. In addition, honey is also often used as an emollient appliance to abscesses and also as a detergent to ulcers. While this can be considered as the limited use of honey as a remedy, present day campaigners of the therapeutic use of honey have explored other professed qualities of honey and vouched on its usefulness in curing many ailments.

A Vermont-based physician D. C. Jarvis, who has promoted the use of a combination of honey and vinegar as a cure for all diseases, has penned down the supposed remedial uses of honey. According to Jarvis, honey not only enhanced the digestion process, but also involved watery solutions in the body enhancing the healing process of ulcers and wounds. He also claimed that honey played a crucial role in destroying the injurious germs in the body and was a superb dietary supplement as it comprised several vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. Jarvis also found honey to be an excellent laxative and a substance that had a tranquilizing consequence and helped in alleviating arthritis pain. Interestingly, as if these qualities of honey were not enough, Jarvis also claimed that people who regularly consumed honey and kept bees would never suffer from cancer and paralysis. It would be worthwhile mentioning here that owing to the marketable significance of honey as a nutrient and also a sweetener, numerous researchers have conducted several extensive chemical investigations on honey.

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According to experts consumption of one tablespoon or 20 grams of honey can provide ample dietary supplement to the human body as it is rich in several vital elements necessary for the body. One tablespoon or 20 grams of honey comprises 61 calories, 16.5 grams of carbohydrates, 0.10 grams of protein, a little over one milligram of calcium, phosphorus and sodium each, 10 milligrams of potassium and 0.60 milligrams of magnesium. In addition, it contains minute amounts of iron, copper, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folic acid as well as pantothenic acid.

Chemical analysis of honey confirms that it comprises two simple sugars - levulose and dextrose - and the concentration of each of these may vary significantly from the honey collected from one hive to another. Tests have exposed that while the concentration of levulose in honey fluctuates from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, dextrose varies between 32 per cent and 37 per cent. The proportion of levulose in honey is important keeping in view the fact that it influences the substance's inclination towards formation of granules or crystals. A higher level of levulose in honey normally makes it crystalline. However, the crystalline honey can be brought back to normal state by heating it gently.

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On the other hand, the content of moisture in honey varies between 14 per cent and 23 per cent and on an average it is normally 17.2 per cent. Honey also contains little proportions of maltose and sucrose. While the content of maltose in honey is seven per cent, sucrose is around 1.5 per cent. Another substance found in honey is diastase enzyme, which is basically a remnant of the honey-making procedure by the bees. Diastase is provided by the bees that use the enzyme to convert the nectar to honey.
Interestingly, honey does not freeze at any temperature it may usually be exposed to. According to one source, when one part honey is mixed with equal part of water and put into the automobile radiators, it acts as an anti-freezer. Notwithstanding this, honey should be ideally stored at temperatures less than 52°F or at temperatures between 70°F and 80°F in sealed containers. Here is a word of caution. Honey should never be stored in any container made of zinc, copper or aluminum as the acid contents of honey may react with these metals.

The ability of honey to retain moisture is usually carried over to the finished products where honey is used - particularly in the case of cakes where sufficient amount of honey is used. Using honey in different food products has its own benefits as its flavor and aroma is effectively imparted in the finished product where honey is used instead of sugar.

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Honey is not only delicious and a valuable sweetening substance, but it also acts as a quick source of energy owing to the simple sugar content in it. In many parts of the world, honey is still used as a folk medication owing to its comforting property. This is especially true while treating different types of colds and coughs. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that consumption of honey has a tranquilizing effect or it helps in alleviating arthritis pain. Even claims regarding honey being an effective pain or affliction reliever appear to be baseless. Even all suggestions that honey prevents or heals cancer or paralysis are nothing but disgusting overstatements. If honey possesses any anti-bacterial property, it is primarily owing to the presence of high levels of sugar in it. Honey loses much of its effects when it is diluted either by mixing it with fluids or when it comes in contact with body.

Consumption of honey may have some side effects too - particularly in the infants. As honey often includes Clostridium botulinum spores, the micro-organism that is to be blamed for infant botulism. It is said that these spores germinate in grown up children and adults without having any adverse consequences. However, they may cause severe sickness in infants and worse, may even result to death. Hence, it has been advised by experts that infants below one year of age should not be given honey under any circumstance.

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Honey Nut Spread

In order to roast the nuts, you must first set the oven for 325° F, and dump 1/2 a cup of nuts onto a baking tray. Put the nuts into the oven for 20 minutes, you will see them change color to light brown and the shells will blister. Let the nuts cool a little before working with them again. To remove the shells and skins from the nut, rub them between two cloths or your palms. Evenly ground the nuts together using a blender (make sure the blade is changed to the one used to grind wheat, not the juicing one). Put the nuts, butter, and honey into a bowl and stir until it has a smooth texture. Store the honey nut spread in the refrigerator and make sure to serve it at room temperature. This produces up to 1 1/4 cups of deliciousness.

Honey Raisin Scones

  • 2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

Gather and combine salt, baking powder, orange peels, baking soda, and flour and put it in a bowl. While stirring the mixture, add in raisins and cut butter into it until you can see coarse crumbs. In a different bowl, thoroughly mix together honey, sour cream, and an egg. Combine the two mixtures you created together and mix until it gets moist. This will make a dough like material. Sprinkle some flour onto a surface and knead the dough a couple of times. Flatten it into an 8 by 8 inch square and cut it into four smaller squares. Cut those squares in half to create triangles which will be placed onto a well greased baking tray. If you truly feel fancy you can sprinkle a little brown sugar on them. Put them into an oven for 15 - 20 minutes at 375° F until they turn golden brown. Can be served with Honey Nut Spread. These scones should be served warm. This recipe makes 8 scones.

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced dried onion
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Mix together cooking oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise, honey, mustard pepper, and onion in a fair sized bowl. Cover up the bowl and put it in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy your salads. This dressing goes best with spinach salad, chicken salad, seafood salad, or a salad containing different greens. This recipe will make you 1 1/2 cups of dressing.

Ribs with Zesty Honey Sauce

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 lbs. pork loin back ribs or pork spareribs
  • 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Cutting the ribs into desirable pieces, place them on a roasting pan meat side up. Roast the ribs uncovered in an oven for an hour in 350° F, drain and return them back to the pan. Now for the best part, the sauce. Grab a small saucepan and in it mix together chili sauce, honey, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Raise the temperature to a boil before decreasing it to a low level. Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes uncovered and stir it from time to time. Put the sauce on the ribs and roast them for 40 minutes uncovered. Every 12 minutes, brush sauce on the ribs. Put the rest of the sauce on the ribs after taken out of the oven. Feeds 4 people.

Easy Honey Muffins

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2-1/2 cups buttermilk baking mix
  • 1 egg, beaten

Mix together milk, honey, and an egg. Pour in the baking mix and stir until moist. Grease the inside of your muffin tins and pour the mixture in. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes at 400° F or until an inserted toothpick into the center of the muffin comes out clean, which means it's fully cooked. This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Honey Garlic Dressing

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 package (3/4 to 1 oz.) Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

In a bowl, thoroughly mix together all the ingredients excluding the oil. Slowly whisk in the oil. Pour this dressing on a salad of mixed greens with red and yellow peppers. This recipe makes 1 cup.

All-Purpose Honey Teriyaki Sauce

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup each soy sauce and sake (Japanese rice wine),
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root

Combine and blend all of the ingredients well. This recipe makes about 3 cups. You can marinate meats and fish for 1 - 3 hours in this sauce. 4 pounds of meat can be soaked in one recipe. You can also add a little flare to your marinate like putting 1 tsp of roasted sesame seeds to make a sesame marinate. Mix well. To make a stir-fry seasoning, add 1 tbsp of corn starch to 1/2 cup of this honey teriyaki sauce. The stir-fry can be put on rice, noodles, and baked potatoes. Honey teriyaki sauce should be kept in the fridge until ready for use.

Chamomile and honey face mask

People having a sensitive skin will benefit by applying a face mask prepared with chamomile and honey. The ingredients required to prepare this face mask at home include:

  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of runny honey
  • 3 tablespoonfuls (45 ml) of chamomile infusion
  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 grams) of unrefined bran

To prepare this natural face mask, blend all these ingredients thoroughly and apply it uniformly on your face. Allow the mask to settle for 10 minutes and then wash your face using the chamomile infusion.

Egg white and lemon face mask

The ingredients required to prepare the facial mask for oily skin include the following:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoonful (2.5 ml) of honey

Whip the egg white into a stiff paste and, subsequently, add some drops of lemon juice and the honey. Blend all the ingredients well and apply it uniformly onto your face.

Rose and honey lotion

Witch hazel and rose lotion is a moisturizer suitable for every skin type and can be prepared using the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls (7.5 ml) of witch hazel infusion
  • 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of almond oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of honey
  • 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of rose water

First warm all the ingredients and blend them in a glass jar. Seal the lid of the jar tightly and shake the jar thoroughly prior to use.

Minty-lemonade

Lemonades prepared at home present an altogether different gastronomic experience from the effervescent and extremely sweetened lemonades that are available commercially. In fact, adding mint gives this recipe a special revitalizing touch. It is advisable that when you are preparing this recipe, you should use organically grown fruits or at least those that are not waxed. The ingredients for trying different combinations of this recipe are listed below.

  • 3 whole lemons and some additional lemon juice to taste, if required
  • 1 orange
  • 50 grams/ 2 ounces of fresh lemon balm leaves
  • 50 grams/ 2 ounces of delicately sliced fresh mint leaves
  • 250 grams/ 8 ounces of honey, some more to taste
  • 1 litre/ 4 pints of cold water
  • 300 ml/ 10 fl. ounce of boiling water
  • Fresh mint and lemon balm sprigs for decoration

Unpeel the orange and lemons and ensure that you get rid of all the bitter tasting whitish pith of these fruits. Keep them to one side, while you squeeze out the juice from these fruits. Now, combine the lemon and orange peel, sliced herbs and honey in a large bowel or jug that is heat-proof. Empty the boiling water over the combination and keep stirring it till all the honey blends well with the other ingredients and allow it to permeate for about 30 minutes. Subsequently, add the lemon and orange juices to the blend and pour it into a clean jug and then add the cold water. At this stage, you may put in the additional honey and lemon juice accordingly to get your preferred flavour. Chill this blend for about an hour and then pour the drink into tumblers on top of ice cubes. Finally, decorate the drink using the herb sprigs.

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