Cooking with Honey: A Sweet and Savory Guide

Honey has been around for thousands of years and is still commonly used in recipes today. Its sweet, tangy flavor matched with its thick consistency is perfect for toast, tea, and scrumptious desserts. But honey's power reaches far beyond those simple uses! As some of you may already know, this sticky syrup makes amazing cocktails, smoothies, sauces, and glazes. Just how far can you go with your honey? Read on to find out!

Honey Drinks

As a natural sweetener, honey works well in just about anything where you'd add sugar, and you often use less volume compared to sugar to get the same sweetness. Any mixologist will tell you that honey tastes amazing in mixed drinks, and the variety of honey will change the flavor profile depending on the liquors you use. Honey not only sweetens beverages, but it also masks the bitterness of straight liquor. In addition, the mouthfeel of honey cocktails can be interesting for customers who haven't tried them before. You can even try using honey foam, brittle, or honey-dipped fruit as garnishes for your cocktails.

If you're looking for non-alcoholic honey drink recipes, you can use honey to decrease sourness in berries, yogurt, and citrus fruits. This quality makes honey a great additive to smoothies, and it will enhance the smooth, thick consistency of your shakes. Ever heard of honey in coffee? Simply mix the ingredients of this mocha latte recipe together to really wow your customers:

Honey Mocha
Ingredients

Fun fact: The average honey bee will create 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Cooking with Honey

The reason chefs prefer to use honey over sugar in so many recipes is because of the complex flavors it imparts on dishes. All honeys are different and can add tangy, citrusy, or musky notes to food, depending on their variety. This complexity makes it an excellent ingredient in savory dishes in addition to sweet ones.

Honey balances salt perception, so anything that involves salty foods can benefit from it! It also complements tangy and spicy foods. Some traditional ways of cooking with honey include pairing it with ham, bacon, and carrots as well as using it in honey mustard, BBQ sauces, vinaigrettes, and Asian sauces.

Fun fact: Did you know that honey is an emulsifier? This means it naturally thickens dressings and sauces.

Honey in Food

If you're looking for more exotic uses for this ingredient (and who isn't?), try drizzling clover honey over goat cheese for a tangy and zesty appetizer, or make coleslaw with alfalfa honey for an especially sweet and creamy side. Use honey as a glaze for anything, like salmon, roast chicken, and teriyaki. Since there are so many varietals, you can alternate the type of honey you use with each protein or vegetable to experiment with flavors. Try buckwheat honey in potato salad to add an earthy, musky flavor, or add it to your favorite cut of pork for a sweet and pungent glaze. You can even make wildflower honey-braised pork cheek empanadas, or add it to this vegetarian chili! For more ideas, check out the recipes from the National Honey Board.

From snacks and sweets to cocktails and entrees, the possibilities are endless! Honey's complex flavor profile and natural sweetening properties make it a star ingredient in any chef's pantry. Try out some of these recipes to add new and interesting items to your menu. By the way, the next time you see a honey bee flying by, take a moment to thank her!

Posted in: Trends | By Melissa Walters

What You Need to Know Before Creating a Gluten-Free Menu

Gluten-free diets and food options have gained popularity and even notoriety. Some people have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, while others are cutting foods containing gluten out of their diet for weight-loss reasons. But what is gluten? What effect does it have on the body? How do you know if a food has gluten in it? With more and more people becoming aware of gluten, it’s important to know what it is, so you can accommodate customers who can’t or don’t eat it.

What is gluten?

What is Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s pretty common in a healthy, balanced diet, but not just in the foods you’d expect like bread, pasta, and baked goods. You’ll also find it in more subtle places like beers and ales, soy sauce, vegetarian meat options, soups, and breaded foods.

Gluten is responsible for the sticky, stretchy quality of uncooked doughs and the flaky, crispy, or chewy texture of finished baked goods. Bakers will often use flours that are high in gluten to achieve these effects. Cutting gluten out of a recipe will make it harder to achieve the same results, so you will need to substitute other ingredients like xanthan gum, eggs, baking soda, and baking powder to get the right consistency. It may take some experimentation to perfect your gluten-free dishes.

Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

Celiac Disease

About 1% of people suffer from an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease. These people sustain damage to the small intestine every time they consume gluten because their bodies cannot process it properly. There is no cure for celiac disease and the only treatment is to eat a completely gluten-free diet.

There are other people who do not test positively for celiac disease, but still experience some negative symptoms associated with gluten intolerance when they consume foods containing gluten. These people have gluten sensitivity and experience headaches, bloating, stomach pains, and other unpleasant side effects, but do not withstand damage to the small intestine. Like with celiac disease, there is no cure and the only treatment is to not eat gluten.

It’s important to note that it isn’t just foods with gluten that are dangerous to people with celiac disease, though; any food that might have an ingredient with gluten or was prepared with gluten is also off-limits, as it is with any other food allergy. Separate mixing bowls, knives, and other kitchen supplies must be used when preparing food that’s gluten free to avoid cross-contamination.

Gluten-Free Foods

Many foods found in a typical diet contain gluten. However, there are grains and starchy foods that are naturally gluten free and can be used in your gluten-free menu.

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Chia
Gluten Free Foods

Does this mean that a gluten-free menu can’t have any bread or pasta? Not necessarily! Many companies manufacture products that are prepared without gluten or with gluten substitutes to accommodate people who avoid it.

You can also take precautions to substitute in gluten-free ingredients in your own cooking! For instance, breads made with rice or almond flour tend to be free of gluten, while those made with wheat are not.


With more attention being drawn to celiac disease and popular diets that cut out wheat, offering gluten-free options is a great way to accommodate customers who are avoiding or cutting out gluten-filled foods. Creating or adapting recipes using naturally gluten-free foods or alternatives allows you to draw in these customers and make their experience more enjoyable.

These items will help you get your gluten-free menu started:


Posted in: Health & Wellness | By Alyssa Burns

What's the Big Deal About BPA?

Whether you’re ordering new plastic containers for your restaurant kitchen or a new water bottle for personal use, you’ve probably seen products that brag, “BPA Free!” But what is BPA, and is it necessary to avoid it? BPA is short for Bisphenol A, a chemical that’s been used to make polycarbonate plastics and resins since the 1950s. The chemical started to get attention in the 1990s when customers began to ask, "Is BPA safe?" Since then, there have been several studies that have attempted to link BPA to health problems, but the FDA has concluded that a low level of BPA exposure is not harmful to humans. Despite this, the U.S. and Canada have banned baby bottles with BPA to prevent potentially negative effects in children, and many companies are voluntarily phasing out adult water bottles with BPA in order to reassure worried consumers.

Although a certain amount of BPA is safe for daily human ingestion, consumers should be aware of which plastics contain BPA and other potentially harmful chemicals. Plastic is categorized by resin codes that tell consumers how to recycle the different types of plastic. The recycling number also corresponds to chemicals that the plastic is actually made with. It can be difficult to keep these numbers straight, so this chart will help you sort out which plastics are safe for use in a variety of different situations.

Plastic Code Used For Contains BPA Recycled Into

Polyethylene Terephthalate
• Disposable Water Bottles
• Clothing (Polyester)
No • Pillow Filling
• Sheet Plastic
• Food Containers

High-Density Polyethylene
• Milk Containers
• Detergent Bottles
• Water Jugs
No • Hair Care Bottles
• Motor Oil Bottles
• Outdoor Fencing
• Recycling Bins

Polyvinyl Chloride
• PVC Piping
• Outdoor Fencing
• Medical Tubing
• Shrink Wrap
No, but when heated this plastic can release other chemicals into food Not Commonly Recycled

Low-Density Polyethylene
• Bread Bags
• Toys
• Squeeze Bottles
• Adhesives
No • Tile
• Paneling
• Trash Cans

Polyproplene
• Yogurt Containers
• Takeout Containers
• Bottle Caps
• Condiment Bottles
No • Brooms
• Car Battery Cases
• Storage Bins
• Trays

Polystyrene
• All Foam Products including Cups, Plates, Bowls, and Packing Peanuts
• Coat Hangers
• Toys
No, but when heated this plastic
can release other chemicals into food
Not Commonly Recycled

Other
• Large Reusable Water Bottles
• Compostable Disposables
• Other
Plastic 7 may contain BPA. If it is not labeled "BPA Free" it probably contains BPA Not Commonly Recycled
Posted in: Features | By Sabrina Bomberger

Growing a Culinary Garden for Your Restaurant

Home-growing produce for your commercial kitchen is a great way to give your dishes fresher flavors. With flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables growing only feet from your kitchen, your customers will not only taste stronger flavors on their plates, but they'll also experience the satisfaction of seeing exactly where their food came from.

What are the Benefits of a Culinary Garden?

Build a Garden
  • Larger Stock - Growing your own herbs and produce is a surefire way to know where your food came from. When other restaurants are worried about recalls or shortages, you’ll still be fully stocked. You can also grow uncommon herbs that can give your dishes unique flavors!
  • Fresher, Better-Tasting Ingredients - Since the ingredients are growing only feet from your kitchen, they retain their strong flavors. Herbs sitting on a shelf lose their flavors over time. Having a culinary garden allows you to skip the storage shelf, resulting in better-tasting ingredients.
  • Less Expensive – A packet of seeds will set you back a couple of dollars at most. Maintaining a small herb garden costs less than buying the same produce in a store or market.
  • Environmental Benefits – Most people know that plants help filter the air we need to breathe, but using home-grown ingredients in your commercial cooking also cuts down on the packaging that store-bought produce comes in. Less packaging means less waste in landfills. It also cuts out a huge amount of carbon emissions that result from the transportation of goods from the farm to the store to the kitchen.
  • Sense of Fulfillment – Tending to a garden can bring a tremendous sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Studies suggest that gardening can actually reduce the risk of diseases like depression and improve your mood. You can even use the garden as a team-building exercise to create a happier, more cohesive staff.
  • Free Landscaping – In addition to their functionality, gardens also provide beautiful landscaping for any facility. Your customers will love having the leafy green plants and colorful flowers around, especially if your dining area is outside.
  • Novelty – Culinary gardens are becoming popular in the same way that farm-to-table restaurants and locally-grown food have. Knowing where your ingredients come from makes it easier to know they are all-natural, with no pesticides or preservatives.

Where Can I Build a Garden?

Kitchen Garden

It doesn’t matter where your restaurant is – you have plenty of space for a small herb or vegetable garden. Establishments in suburbs or country areas can easily build the garden on the lawn or behind the kitchen, for easy access.

Restaurants in the city tend not to have much, if any, yard space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a culinary garden! Urban agriculture is making a comeback. This can mean window boxes, rooftop gardens, or even plants on the fire escape. It doesn’t take very much space to grow fresh vegetables and herbs because just a few planters can be used to grow a wide variety. The plants themselves will stay small because you’ll constantly be using the leaves for cooking.

What Can I Grow?

Vegetables

To save space, different herbs can be planted in the same bed or planter. The golden rule for growing herbs together is that you should only combine herbs that require similar conditions. For instance, Mediterranean varieties like rosemary, oregano, lavender, sage, marjoram, and thyme require drier soil and lots of sunlight. Plants like parsley, basil, tarragon, and cilantro like lots of water and can grow in shadier areas. Always be sure to match up the growing information before you combine plants.

You can also grow fresh vegetables and fruits in planters and small culinary gardens! Tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and peas are all great choices because they can be trained to run vertically up trellises, maximizing your space. Popular fruits include strawberries and cantaloupes because they stay low to the ground, as opposed to tall fruit trees which take up much more room.

To add some color to your garden, you can also think about adding edible flowers. Violets and roses can be used as sweet garnishes on desserts, while bright blue borage petals taste like cucumbers and can be used in salads. Edible flowers are a beautiful, creative way to incorporate color into your culinary garden and your menu.


Fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies add fresh flavors to your signature dishes and look great in window boxes, pots, and plots of land. So whether you’re looking to expand the menu at your family Italian bistro or find a new draw your urban rooftop restaurant, a culinary garden might be a good option for you.

Posted in: Trends | By Alyssa Burns
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