Guest post by Kimber, who blogs at Kimbers Glen.
Ahh, honey. Sweet, sweet honey. It is such a versatile food staple to have on hand. Not only is it a sweetener, it’s also great for medicinal purposes; such as calming a sore throat or as a cough suppressant . It’s a natural energy booster and wonderful for the skin, too. The cost of honey versus other sweeteners, like sugar, can seem much higher, but typically you use less honey as a sweetener then you do sugar. Knowing that honey is natural rather then synthetically altered can make a big difference to you.
Honey can be stored indefinitely. It will not go rancid if stored properly. But, how do you store honey long term? It’s easier then you might think. First you need to know that there are several different types of honey. There is comb honey, liquid (extracted) honey, granulated (also called creamy) honey, and chunk honey. Comb honey is honey filled beeswax combs as stored directly by the bees. Liquid honey is processed by cutting off the caps and placing it in an extractor where centrifugal force extracts the honey out of the cells. Granulated (creamed) honey is made by mixing one part fine crystallized honey and 9 parts liquid honey, then it is stored at 57 degrees until it becomes firm. Chunk honey is comb honey that is placed in a jar with liquid honey poured around it. All honey types, except comb honey, are processed to some extent. Less processed honeys (no heat applied) have more taste but can be susceptible to fermentation from sugar tolerant yeasts which are always present in honey. High temperatures, over 160 degrees used during processing with filtration, tend to reduce granulation and help improve the looks of the products; however, natural enzymes are eliminated.
Liquid honey needs to be stored in a cool dry area avoiding sunlight with an optimal temperature of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It also should be kept it in a tightly lidded container as honey easily absorbs moisture. Over time, liquid honey will crystallize (also known as granulating). That is ok. While it might look unpleasant, you can restore honey to its liquid state by simply simmering the container in warm water until the crystals disappear and removing it from the heat source as quickly as possible. Never boil your honey or vital nutrients will be lost.
Honey Granules, also know as dehydrated or dried honey, are a unique sweetener made from a combination of unrefined sugar cane juice (sucrose) and a bit of honey in order to lighten the color and texture of the final product. Dried honey is easier to handle than standard honey, and can be used as is to add flavor to hot beverages or reconstituted with water for more traditional usage. Because of the addition of sucrose, dehydrated honey cannot be substituted pound for pound for standard honey. The granules must be reconstituted with a specified amount of warm water to create honey, and then can be used. The exact specifications of honey reconstitution are included with the product. It is recommended that honey granules be stored at temperatures less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and below 70% humidity in order to maximize the shelf life of the product.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread:
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/4 tsp yeast
Add yeast, water, honey, and oil together well. Let sit about 10 minutes to proof the yeast. All remaining ingredients and knead together until dough forms a ball. Add extra flour if needed. If using a mixer, use bread hooks. Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until double in size. Punch down and knead slightly placing in bread pan. Let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove from pan, and cool completely
NOTE: Because of the risk of botulism NEVER give honey to an infant until after they are at least one year of age.