Honey may have a similar amount of calories as sugar, but it is richer in minerals and vitamins. It’s also much less refined as bees do pretty much all the work. Humans only extract it from the hives and the honey is ready to use. On top of that, using honey made in your local area (within five miles of your home, so I do mean very local!) is shown to help allergy sufferers become accustomed to their local pollens and thus reduce symptoms.
Since we acquired two hives of bees in 2009, I’ve made an effort to begin the process of using honey in place of sugar in as many recipes as possible. We’ve begun making honey wine (mead), I use it in bread, and am experimenting with it in various baked goods.
If you’re interested in doing some tests, here are guidelines for making the exchange in baked goods, particularly cookies.
1. Substitute 1 cup honey for 1 cup white sugar, but reduce liquids elsewhere by 1/4 cup.
2. Substitute 7/8 cup honey plus 2 tablespoons molasses for 1 cup brown sugar, but reduce liquids elsewhere by 1/4 cup.
3. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.
4. Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees and start checking for doneness at least five minutes in advance.
Tips to make working with honey easier:
1. Warm honey is easier to work with than cold. If your honey has crystallized, set the container in hot water up to its neck until a liquid state resumes. For my large buckets of honey, I set them on a jar ring in my slow cooker and fill it with water, turn it on low, and leave it overnight.
2. If a recipe calls for oil, measure it into the cup or spoon first, then use it for honey. The honey will slip right out.
3. Honey isn’t recommended for children under one year of age.
4. Remember that honey has more flavor than sugar, so will change recipes with a delicate balance.
Here’s a recipe I’ve adapted:
Oatmeal Apricot Cookies
1/3 cup butter
7/8 cup honey
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats (regular, aka old-fashioned)
1 cup snipped dried apricots *
1/3 cup coconut (optional)
Drop by the teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (watch the first batch closely!)
*may substitute snipped dried cherries or raisins or ??