Honey is more than just a great sweetener for tea and a cough remedy, it’s also a versatile sweetener that you can use for all kinds of cooking. It has important properties aside from its sweetening power. For example, it acts as a humectant that keeps baked goods from drying out. It is also more flavorful than sugar, which is a major benefit in some dishes. To get the most value from honey, you will need to learn how to use it. Here are the key dos and don’ts of cooking with honey.
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- Do adjust your recipe’s heat and cooking time to account for honey.
- Do lower the quantity of liquid in your recipe if you are using honey in place of sugar.
- Do add baking soda to baked goods that contain honey.
- Do use a smaller amount of honey to replace sugar.
- Do take steps to make cleaning up easier when measuring out honey for recipes.
- Do learn how the color of honey can indicate its flavor profile.
- Don’t discard honey just because it has a white layer.
- Don’t refrigerate honey.
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Do adjust your recipe’s heat and cooking time to account for honey.
If you are using honey as a substitute for sugar, keep in mind that honey will burn faster than sugar. What this means is that baked goods will need a lower temperature to keep them from getting too brown. Set your oven to 25 to 100 degrees lower than the temperature for recipes with sugar. To keep these items from being underdone, you will need to cook them for longer.
Do lower the quantity of liquid in your recipe if you are using honey in place of sugar.
Because you will be adding extra liquid to your dish when you use honey, you run the risk of throwing off the balance of dry and wet ingredients. Experts recommend removing about three tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the other liquids to keep batters and doughs from becoming too moist.
Do add baking soda to baked goods that contain honey.
A tiny amount of baking soda (1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon) will counteract the acidity in the honey that causes cakes and cookies to brown quickly. Avoid doing this in recipes that require yeast since yeast does better with acidity.
Do use a smaller amount of honey to replace sugar.
Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you won’t need as much of it to get your dish to the right sweetness level. Start with about half the amount of honey that the recipe requires for sugar.
Do take steps to make cleaning up easier when measuring out honey for recipes.
One simple trick is to coat spoons, measuring cups and spatulas with nonstick spray. The spray helps the honey to slide off. You can get a similar effect by keeping your utensils warm so that the honey’s viscosity is reduced. In addition to getting more of the honey out of your utensils, this method ensures that your measurements are more accurate since you will get all the honey out of the vessel.
Do learn how the color of honey can indicate its flavor profile.
There are many kinds of honey and many shades. Generally speaking, lighter-colored honey is typically not as strongly flavored as darker honey.
Don’t discard honey just because it has a white layer.
White sediment in honey doesn’t mean that it has gone bad, just that it has crystallized. Honey can crystallize when its sugar is exposed to oxygen. It can be returned to its liquid state with the careful application of heat. Keep in mind honey’s tendency to brown quickly. If heated too aggressively, it will caramelize and take on a burnt flavor. Melt your honey crystals by heating the honey in a microwave on its lowest setting or by placing the honey container in some hot water.
Don’t refrigerate honey.
It’s not necessary. Its high level of acidity acts as a preservative.