With more than 300 varieties available in the United States alone, fresh spring honey can satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. David Guas, the executive pastry chef at several D.C. restaurants including the newly opened Acadiana, shares some luscious desserts.
Facts about Honey
The average person in the U.S. consumes 1.29 pounds of honey per year. Honey is made by bees from flower nectar and its flavor and color vary according to the source of the nectar. Lighter honeys tend to have a milder flavor while darker honeys have a stronger flavor. There are more than 300 types of honey in the U.S. The flowers that produce the most popular varieties include clover, orange blossom, and sage; other nectar sources include alfalfa, avocado, blueberry, and buckwheat.
Nicaragua produces two types of honey: that from conventional Africanized bees, which were introduced to the country in the twentieth century; and the highly prized honey from native melipone bees. The latter is more rare and is believed by many to have greater medicinal value. Nectar for Nicaragua honey comes from a variety of plants, including cambray, flor amarilla, campanilla, campanita, eucalyptus, cortez, lipia, and salamo o madrono. The resulting honeys are light in color and rarely crystallize.
U.S. honey production averages about 200 million pounds per year. An individual worker bee, however, makes only about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. In addition to their production of the sweet stuff, honey bees are also very important to the pollination of other crops.
Honey comes in a variety of forms, with liquid being the most popular in this country. (Liquid honey should be stored at room temperature, tightly sealed.) Other forms include comb, where the liquid honey is still contained within; cut comb or chunk-style, where pieces of comb are in the jar of liquid honey; naturally crystallized; and, very popular in other countries, whipped, which is finely crystallized honey that takes a spreadable form.
Honey contains carbohydrates and small amounts of various vitamins, essential minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. The type of carbohydrates in honey make it a good source of energy before working out.
Sweeter than sugar, honey has been used throughout history in food. It is also used to make mead, Drambuie, and some beers.
The oldest written reference to the use of honey dates to about 55,000 B.C. In ancient times, honey was considered a divine substance. It features prominently in myths as well as in ancient literature and philosophical texts. Considered to have sacred and magical properties, it was used in marriage and funeral rituals.