What is Honey?
Honey is a sweet food made from the nectar of flowers by honey bees. It gets its sweetness from two monosaccharides, glucose and fructose.
Honey usage dates back to as early as 2100 B.C. Mead consumption, an alcoholic drink made with honey, is prevalent in ancient writings. This is a natural ingredient not manufactured by humans. It has been used as a form of currency or offering as well as in food applications. Today, honey is still harvested from bee hives after being produced by the honey bee. It is then filtered and packaged ready for human consumption or use in other food product applications.
Aside from being a natural sweetener, honey has other benefits and characteristics desirable for baking.
1) Honey extends a product’s shelf life by keeping it moister longer do to its high fructose content.
2) Because of its high acidity, honey inhibits mold growth in baked products.
3) Using honey as a sweetener makes for a cleaner label, which is very much desired.
There are more than 300 varieties of honey produced, and some form of honey is produced in every state in America. The variety is based on the floral source location, or where the honey bee has traveled. Honey can range from almost colorless to dark brown. Typically, the lighter colored honey is milder while the darker color yields a stronger flavor. Although honey originates from different flowers and plants, the most common form of honey on the market, especially in bulk form, is a blend of several different varieties. This way producers can give customers a more specific flavor and color profile. Some floral varieties used are buckwheat, alfalfa, clover, soy, and acacia.