September is National Honey Month.
Fun fact: to make one pound of honey, a honeybee needs to tap 2 million flowers. No wonder they're called worker bees.
Honey has been around since before the dawn of humanity, but we've been relying on it to sweeten our food and drink since we caught on. Some of the earliest references to honey can be found in paintings on cave walls in Spain and Greece.
It's often said that with honey our civilization would grin to a halt, and while that scenario is likely a ways off, let's look at the consequences. According to the National Honey Board, without honeybees, there'd be no almonds. Almonds depend 100% on honeybee pollination. Apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries and sunflowers are 90% dependent on honeybees too. Not to mention, most fruits and vegetables are pollinated this way.
But enough with this end of the world stuff.
Honey has about the same fructose and glucose as sugar, which means it's just as sweet, but not refined. Also, unlike cane sugar, which tastes the same no matter where you got it from, honey can taste different based on the flower and the insect. So honey from an avocado flower will taste completely different from orange blossom honey.
The United States Department of Agriculture grades honey into three categories, and no water can be added to honey if it is labeled as such. According to the USDA, honey must be "a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance...this includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners."
The USDA also cautions that because of their less developed digestive systems, children under one should not eat honey because they could contract botulism.
Honey is mostly used in baking and in hot tea as a sweetener, but more adventurous uses include honey beer (even the White House agrees), barbecue sauces and even salad dressings. Because different honeys can taste so different, it's worth trying out a few exotic ones before settling on the kind found in a bear bottle. And because honey lasts (almost) forever, you don't need to worry about it sitting in your cupboard and going bad.
Another interesting use of honey, in Jewish tradition, honey and apples are eaten during Rosh Hashanah (which ended yesterday) to usher in the new year.
Copyright CNN Wire
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