7 Tips to Help You Get to Honey’s Sweet Spot in the Kitchen

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

If you haven’t explored honey beyond those plastic bears that line grocery shelves, it’s time to dig a little deeper. The world of honey is a vast, exciting place, but knowing exactly how to discover it can seem a bit daunting. That’s why we’re here to help. Here are seven tips and tricks to get you started on your journey.

1. Know your varietals.

Understanding honey starts with understanding that it comes in so many shapes and sizes. But don’t let it make you head spin! Bees make honey from thousands of different flowering plants, so not only will you find wildflower honey, which is a combination of whatever blossoms the bees might be around, but you’ll also find single-varietal honeys like buckwheat and orange blossom, which come from just that one plant. Tupelo honey, a varietal made from the flowers of the tupelo tree is considered the gold standard. Each and every varietal tastes different, so the fun starts with trying as many as you can and finding your favorites.

2. Bake with it like a pro.

Honey lends its unique flavor and sweetness to whatever it’s baked into, so it’s a lot of fun to experiment with in the kitchen. But since its composition is different from white sugar, if you want to swap it in your favorite recipe, you’ll need to follow a few basic guidelines to achieve success.

3. Learn to love crystallized honey.

All too often, people think crystallized honey is a bad thing. The almost-solid product with its grainy texture is far from the runny honey we’re used to, but that’s exactly what makes it great. Suddenly it’s thick enough to spread on toast and its crunch and texture keeps things interesting.

4. Embrace the honeycomb.

The tiny hexagonal cylinders bees create out of beeswax to dispense liquid honey is more than just storage. While most of it is left at the hive after it has been pressed for the liquid, beekeepers often cut off pieces that still contain honey and sell them as is. We’re so happy they do — honeycomb is sweet, chewy, and truly unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Try chopping it up and sprinkling it on everything from ice cream to salad to your morning oatmeal.

5. Infuse it with herbs for more flavor.

Honey is pretty perfect on its own, but why not have a little fun and add extra flavor to it? Dropping in herbs like rosemary, chamomile, lavender, and thyme, or spices like vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks results in your own signature blend of flavored honey that’s great in cocktails, alongside a cheese plate, or simply stirred into tea.

6. Discover an easier way to measure it.

Measuring out honey always proves to be frustrating — you pour it into your measuring cup, but then when you pour it out, a good majority of it stays stuck to the vessel. Instead, if the recipe calls for oil, measure that in the measuring cup first, and then measure the honey. The honey will fall right out of the oil-slicked cup.

7. Use it in a tonic for your sore throat.

Honey has this magical way of soothing even the scratchiest of throats. So next time feel something coming on, combine it with equally calming ginger for a warming herbal tea.