An Ode to Honey: Positively Sweet

Samantha Frazier Gordon

Samantha Frazier Gordon

Pythagoras called it a food for the gods; that amber hued liquid we call honey. Sweet to the taste and good for the body honey is the one food that can sustain and perhaps even heal us.

Honey has it all; anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, water and pinocembrin, an anti-oxidant associated with improved brain functioning. It also contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and is one of the easiest foods to digest. Honey is the only natural sweetener that does not have to be refined, and the only one where nothing is added and nothing is taken away. It is also the only insect created food with therapeutic, medicinal and cosmetic value. Honey has no empty calories only natural calories and what the body needs to build and rebuild itself without adding weight.

Honey is a Hebrew word meaning “enchant” and, while it was initially used as a sweetener, the ancient Egyptians not only offered it to the gods, but they also believed it played an important role in the afterlife and was a funerary gift for the dead. They also used it as an embalming fluid and as a dressing for wounds, talk about the ultimate multitasker. In 11th-century Germany, honey was used as a sweetener for beer and was important enough that the feudal lords required honey as payment for debts.

Honey never spoils due to its naturally acidic properties and low moisture content making it inhospitable to bacteria, so it will last forever in your pantry. The flavor of honey depends upon what flowers a bee gathers pollen from; sage, orange blossom, buckwheat, lavender and countless others. The darker the color, the stronger the flavor as well as containing more minerals.

For cooking purposes, it is important to know the source since that will impact the flavor it imparts on the food. Buckwheat has a stronger flavor than orange blossom, for example. Clover honey is widely used as a table honey, orange blossom for baking and sage is good served with a cheese tray.

Honey is that one staple we should always have on hand to cook with or to simply slather on a piece of toast.

How sweet it is.