Pooh may be a bear of very little brain, but his instincts are golden when it comes to honey. Probably the oldest and most traditional of sweeteners, honey is worth a few sticky situations to attain, although I wouldn’t recommend eating it out of a dead lion like Samson did. Thankfully, honey is easier to come by these days.
By honey, I mean the real deal: raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized. Although the adorable plastic honey bears on grocery store shelves may be a tribute to Pooh’s wisdom, they are usually pasteurized and processed and little better than white sugar.
Health Benefits of Raw Honey
Poke around the internet or library and you’ll come up with a list as long as your arm of the health properties of raw honey. It’s antibacterial, heals burns, soothes coughs, supplies energy, dries up acne, provides vitamins and minerals, fights hair loss, and tastes really good. One of my Pop’s old books talked about a New England community that healed nearly everything with either raw apple cider vinegar or raw honey.
Like many real, nutrient dense foods, the health benefits of honey are seemingly limitless, and we can expect scientists to continue to “discover” new ways that honey can nourish and heal our bodies. But you don’t really need the scientific community to tell you that real food is good for you, right? All this smart research can sometimes muddle the brains of average bears like me. I’m more interested in where I can get my hands on it:
Where to Find Raw Honey
While you can buy raw honey online, local prices are usually better, plus you have the added benefit that many people find of heightened immunity against seasonal allergies. You’ll find raw honey at a health food store and sometimes your local grocery store, but the best place to get it is probably your farmer’s market. I’ve seen it cheapest there and in larger containers. Remember that unless you live in a tropical climate honey is a seasonal food, so be sure to get some extra in the fall to hold you through winter.
If for some reason your only source of honey is the grocery store, try Fischer’s raw honey available at Wal-Mart. I emailed the company and discovered that their raw honey is heated only to 110 degrees (just enough to remove it from the barrel) and filtered to remove dirt and bee wings.
How to Use Raw Honey
Since heating damages the enzymes and thus decreases honey’s nutritional value, it’s best used topically or eaten plain. I usually leave it out of baked goods, but I do harness honey’s consistency and flavour for baked granola and granola bars If you’re using honey in a stovetop concoction such as a syrup or pudding, always stir it in after the pot has been removed from heat and slightly cooled.
I use honey in:
- beverages, such as lemonade, hot toddies, orange julius, and strawberry milk
- to sweeten yogurt and kefir
- granola and granola bars
- elderberry syrup (for colds and flus)
- yeast breads, such as these sticky buns
- meat glazes
- pie fillings, such as this lime pie