Samui Wining & Dining
Naturally Sweet

You can spread it on toast or drizzle it on desserts, but there's much more to honey than meets the eye.

 

22Everyone knows that bees make honey but not so many know that when it’s first produced it’s actually just a very light nectar, comprised of 80% water. The bees then flap their wings over the nectar to reduce its water content to about 18%, after which it can then be classified as honey.

    It's a very versatile sweetener, and used a lot in cooking. Dishes like honey-glazed chicken just wouldn't be the same without it, and countless desserts are given that X factor by the natural sweetness that honey gives. It has a gluey consistency that you don't get from granulated sugar. Take a honey cake – when sticky honey is added to butter, light muscovado sugar, eggs and flour you get one rich and truly moist cake.

      Marinades that are made with a dollop of honey really take meat pre-flavouring above and beyond. Garlic honey – made simply with garlic and honey – is a welcome addition to most marinades and salad dressings. To make it, just put the two ingredients together in a jar and leave them for about a week. The garlic will eventually dissolve into the honey and form a flavour-laden syrup that you can use in all sorts of cooking. A fantastic way to incorporate it is as a glaze – for example on that aforementioned honey-glazed chicken.

       There's nothing better for when you're feeling a little under the weather than a comforting cup of honey with lemon. It just soothes your throat like no other medicine can – not to mention it tastes miles better than the average cough syrup. The average cuppa of this sweet cure-for-all uses approximately one lemon to one cup of boiling water, and then you just drizzle in the honey to taste.

       The natural benefits of honey have even been proven by the Penn State College of Medicine to be more effective at suppressing coughs in children than the chemical alternatives you can buy from the chemist. Also, the fact that honey is a natural product puts the minds of many parents at ease. For adults in need of a little TLC, a portion of grated ginger can be added to the mix for an extra immunity boost, and a zing that is bound to put a spring back in your step. And if you want to get really creative, you can even chuck in some garlic or cayenne pepper – but taste as you go with these last ingredients, as too much and you’ll find the drink becomes totally unpalatable, and you’ll have to start from scratch again.

       Despite the fact that it’s just another form of sugar at the end of the day, honey has numerous beneficial qualities aside from being a source of energy. It makes a super-moisturising face-mask! Mix it together with some oats and rub it into your face to exfoliate your skin at the same time. If you think it sounds good enough to eat, that’s because it is. But its topical usefulness doesn’t end there. What we learnt from ancient civilisations like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, is that it’s also very helpful in healing wounds. When applied raw to open cuts and burns it acts as an antibacterial agent while also protecting the skin.

       But back to the use of honey via more traditional means, consumption via the mouth that is. It’s also full of vitamins and healthy stuff for your insides. Goodness hiding in this golden substance includes vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and amino acids. But it doesn’t stop there – it’s loaded with minerals too, like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. And to top it all off, it also contains antioxidants. It really is not just a sweetener after all.

       And to finish up, here are some fun facts about honey and honeybees that you probably didn’t know:

           - Honeybees never sleep.

           - Human consumption of honey dates back 150 million years and is even documented in hieroglyphics.

           - The word honey is actually a Hebrew word  that means to enchant.

           - A honeybee can fly at a speed of about 15 miles an hour. - It was so valuable to the ancient Egyptians

              that they used it as a trading currency. - Honeybees have five eyes.

           - Roman and Greek civilisations thought of honey as a gift fit for the gods, some even believed it gave you eternal life.

 

Christina Wylie


 


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