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!
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:
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.
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 even add it to 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!