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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Honey/Sugar/Syrup

PRODUCT: Buy A Bottle Of Honeydrop, Save A Bee

Three of six varieties of Honeydrop bottled teas and juices. Photo courtesy Honeydrop.

 

When Honeydrop Beverages debuted in 2009, everyone at THE NIBBLE loved the juice and tea drinks sweetened with a tablespoon of wildflower honey. We gave the drinks—more nutritious and lower glycemic alternatives to sugar- and HFCS-sweetened beverages—an enthusiastic review.

The company has since expanded the line: Green Tea, Lemon Tea and Lemon Ginger Tea have joined Blueberry, Blood Orange and Chamomile Tea flavors. The honey is sourced from regional beekeepers across the U.S. The drinks are all-natural and have only 70 to 90 calories per 14-ounce bottle.

The company has launched a “Buy a Bottle, Save a Bee” campaign. A percentage of profits from each bottle sold is donated to help fight Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an epidemic threatening the global bee population. The funds help American beekeepers build and maintain new beehives, in order to replace the nearly 30% of honeybees lost each year to CCD.

 

Why Should You Care About Colony Collapse Disorder?

Since 2006, the honeybee population has been diminishing at an alarming rate, from a spectrum of causes known as CCD. More than producers of honey, honeybees are essential to pollinate one-third of all the produce grown in the U.S.—including 90% of apples and oranges and 100% of almonds grown, plus melons, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and numerous other crops. It’s a little-known problem that can seriously impact our food supply.

Bee a friend: Buy a bottle of Honeydrop!

Honeydrop is certified kosher by OU. The suggested retail price for the 14-ounce bottle is $1.99.

Honeydrop is available at leading natural and gourmet grocers nationwide, including Whole Foods Markets. There’s a store locator on the company website.


Learn all about honey in our Honey Section, including types of honey, pairing honey with other foods and honey trivia.

One of our favorite honeys is spreadable creme honey from Honey Ridge Farms. In original and in fruit flavors, it couldn’t be more delicious, on your table or as a gift. Honey Ridge Farms also makes lovely honey-flavored vinegars.

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: The Sugar To Agave Conversion

Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a wonder food. It has a natural sweetness that’s more elegant than table sugar—never cloying or “sugary.” Its glycemic index is 32, half that of sugar (GI 60-65) and more than 40% less than honey (GI 58) and pure maple syrup (GI 54). It’s diabetes-friendly.

A teaspoon of agave has 20 calories; sugar has 16 calories and honey has 22 calories. But since agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, you don’t need to use as much.

It follows that when you’re cooking or baking with agave, you need to use less. Agave is also 20% moisture, so you also have to reduce the moisture when baking.

  • Substitute 2/3 cup agave per 1 cup sugar.
  • Reduce other liquids by 1 fluid ounce per 2/3 cup agave nectar.
  • Reduce oven temperature by 25°F and baking time by 5%.
  •  
    The best conversion, of course, would be to have a book of favorite recipes converted and tested with agave.

     

    Agave nectar is one of our favorite
    products. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Alas, there’s no one great book of agave recipes (publishers take note!). Those that exist have as many critics as fans. Here’s one to take a look at: Baking with Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener.

    More Agave to Sweetener Conversions

  • Brown Sugar: For each cup of brown sugar, substitute 2/3 cup agave; reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup. Because the moisture content of brown sugar is higher than that of white sugar, liquids may not have to be reduced as much.
  • Brown Rice Syrup: Use 1/2 to 1/3 as much agave; increase other liquids in the recipe by up to 1/2 cup.
  • Corn Syrup: Use 1/2 as much agave; increase other liquids by up to 1/3 cup.
  • Honey: Replace each cup of honey with 1 cup of agave syrup.
  • Maple Syrup: Replace each cup of maple syrup with 1 cup of agave syrup.
  • White Table Sugar: For each cup of white sugar, substitute 2/3 cup agave; reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. This substitution also works for demerara sugar, evaporated cane juice, Sucanat and turbinado sugar.
  •  
    Find more information at AllAboutAgave.com.

    All About Agave

    Here’s everything you need to know about agave nectar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: New Ways To Enjoy Honey

    Our last tip for National Honey Month is courtesy of Ford’s Honey Farm in Newport, New York. How many ways can you enjoy honey?

    FAVORITE NEW USE

  • Poke a hole in the center of a warm biscuit. Fill the hole with honey and enjoy with meals or as a snack.

     
    TRIED & TRUE USES

    Breakfast

  • Drizzle over yogurt and granola
  • Mix with butter for a honey butter spread
  • On bread or toast, English muffins or bagels
  • On French toast, pancakes or waffles
  • Over cold or hot cereal
  • In hot drinks: coffee, hot chocolate, tea

     
    Lunch & Dinner

  • As a glaze
  • Drizzled over sweet potatoes or carrots
  • With the bread basket, in addition to, or instead of, butter
  •  

    Drizzle honey over fruit, such as roasted
    figs (above) or fresh-cut apple slices. Photo
    by Scott Karcich | IST.

     

    Dessert

  • Drizzle over ice cream and frozen yogurt
  • In cakes, pies and cookies, instead of sugar
  • In the center of a baked apple
  •  
    Snacks

  • As a dip for fruit (apples dipped in honey are a favorite)
  • In iced tea
  • In smoothies and shakes
  • Mixed with peanut butter as a spread
  • Right off the spoon, when you need a sweet treat
  •  
    Other favorite uses? Tell us!

    TYPES OF HONEY

  • Types of honey based on processing techniques
  • The different forms of honey
  • How many monofloral honeys have you tried? There are numerous different types.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Fix Crystallized Honey

    Like most foodstuffs, honey does best in a location that is cool and dry. Store honey at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.

    Never put honey in the fridge; it accelerates the crystallization.* When honey crystallizes, the texture becomes “crunchy”—not a pleasant state for most people, but still safe to eat.

    Crystallization is a natural process that occurs when glucose, one of three main sugars in honey (along with fructose and sucrose), spontaneously precipitates out of the supersaturated† honey solution and takes the form of crystals.

    All honey will ultimately turn to sugar crystals—some in months, some not for years.

    * Other terms for crystallization include sugared, granulated, solidified and crystallized. The crystals may be large or small, grainy/sandy or smooth.

    †The supersaturated state occurs because there is so much sugar in honey (more than 70%) relative to the water content (often less than 20%).

     

    It’s pouring freely now, but what can
    you do when it crystallizes? Photo by Vaskoni | IST.

     

    How To Fix Crystallized Honey

    Simply place the honey jar in a microwave-safe container with the lid off, and microwave it for 30 seconds. Plastic containers may not be microwaveable, so transfer the honey to a microwave-safe receptacle (we use a Pyrex measuring cup with an easy-pour lip) and then return the honey to the container. Another tip: spray the measuring cup or dish with cooking spray so the honey will flow back into its container more easily.

    If you don’t have a microwave, you can place the jar in hot water and stir occasionally until the crystals dissolve, about 10 to 15 minutes.

    How To Keep Honey From Crystallizing

  • Temperature. Honey resists crystallization best when kept at less than 70°F, according to the National Honey Board.
  • Variety. Each type of honey crystallizes at a slightly different rate. Look for varieties with lower-than-average rates of crystallization such as acacia, clover, cranberry, raspberry, sage, sourwood and tupelo.
  • Unprocessed. Raw and semi-processed (such as strained) honey will resist crystallization longer than processed‡ honey (supermarket honeys are pasteurized to reduce crystallization).
  • ‡ Processing removes grains of pollen and extraneous solids. The process typically heats honey to 150°F to 170°F.

    MORE HONEY TIPS here.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Get Every Last Drop Of Honey From The Jar

    Photo courtesy National Honey Board

     

    It’s National Honey Month in a recession. Today’s tip spans both topics: how to get the last drops of honey from the jar.

    As the honey is used up and the jar contains mostly air, there is invariably honey at the bottom of the jar that hardens, resisting the ability to pour or spoon it out. Here’s how to get out that last spoonful:

  • Brew a cup of tea.
  • Pour some of the tea into the honey container.
  • Cap and shake the container. The honey will dissolve into the tea.
  • Pour the contents into your tea cup and enjoy.
  •  
    This trick not only gets the last drop of honey out, but it also cleans the container for recycling.

     

    Honeybees must visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey! More honey trivia.

    FOOD TRIVIA

    The Honey Bear® bottle, shown in the photo above, is a registered trademark of the National Honey Board.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spread Creme Honey On Toast

    September is National Honey Month. Why not try a new type of honey?

    If you’ve never had creme honey before, it’s a real treat. In many countries around the world, creme honey is preferred to the liquid/syrup form and is used instead of jelly or jam.

    Creme honey (also known as churned honey, cremed honey, honey fondant, sugared honey, spun honey and whipped honey) is brought to market in a finely crystallized state.

    While all honey will crystallize over time, creme honey is intentionally crystallized via a controlled process so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter.

    Honey, a natural product, is better for you than refined sugar-laden jam. And honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar.

    Use creme honey:

  • On toast, scones, biscuits and other breads.
  • On pancakes and waffles.
  •  

    Treat yourself to creme honey. Photo by
    River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

  • In your favorite cooking or grilling sauces and marinades.
  • In a vinaigrette (stir in half a teaspoon).
  • As a cheese condiment.
  • As a topping for desserts: Make a fat-free hard sauce by mixing creme honey with a splash of brandy. Serve over pound cake, toasted angel food cake slices or quick breads.
  • And of course, any type of honey can be used as a sweetener for tea and other beverages.
  •  
    Treat yourself to our favorite creme honey, from Honey Ridge Farms:

  • Honey Creme Trio In Apricot, Blackberry & Clover.
  • Honey Crème Trio In Cranberry, Cinnamon Spice & Raspberry.
  • Two flavors of your choice.
  •  
    The line is certified kosher parve by Oregon Kosher.

    More About Honey

  • History Of Honey: Where did honeybees come from, and when?
  • Types Of Honey: Can you name at least five types of honey?
  •  
    FOOD TRIVIA
    What’s the difference between creme and cream? Why is it creme honey instead of cream honey?

    Crème, pronounced KREHM, is the French word for cream. In America, French recipes were served at the tables of the wealthy, many of whom knew how to pronounce crème de légumes (mixed cream of vegetable soup).

    As these recipes entered the mainstream, people who did not know French began to pronounce crème as cream. Some people dispensed with the accent mark, and now we have a mashup of French and English. If you were to write “cream honey,” you would not be incorrect; however, the industry has adopted crème or creme.

    The word for honey in French is “miel” (pronounced mee-EL).

      

    Comments

    NEWS: Aspartame Is Still Safe

    For the time being, have all you want!
    Photo courtesy Merisant.

     

    Artificial sweeteners are often the subject of controversy. Since these sweeteners were approved by the FDA in 1974, critics have alleged that the original research supporting their safety was flawed and that conflicts of interest marred the approval process.

    The safety of aspartame has been confirmed by regulatory authorities in more than 100 countries, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization.

    Studies on the safety of artificial sweeteners are ongoing. As part of a continuing review of scientific studies on aspartame, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a statement on two new studies.

  • One study found that aspartame induces cancer in the livers and lungs of mice. The EFSA concluded that the results presented did not provide a sufficient basis to reconsider its previous evaluations on aspartame.
  •  

  • In a second study, the authors found an association between intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and pre-term delivery. The EFSA assessment concluded that there is no evidence available to support a causal relationship between the consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks and pre-term delivery, and that additional studies would be required to reject or confirm an association.
  •  
    Read the full article.

    What’s the difference between aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda) and all the other noncaloric or low-calorie sweeteners? Here’s the scoop.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Reasons To Use Superfine Sugar

    Pick up some superfine sugar. It dissolves
    instantly in cold drinks. Photo courtesy
    Domino Sugar.

     

    If you put sugar in iced tea or other cold beverages and cocktails, or make frosting, mousse or other uncooked desserts, you may want to pick up a box of superfine sugar.

    Superfine sugar, also known as ultrafine sugar (and caster or castor sugar in the U.K.), is more finely pulverized than table sugar (granulated sugar). The grain size of regular table sugar is about .5mm; superfine sugar grains are about 3.5mm.

    The result is that superfine sugar dissolves instantly. No vigorous stirring is required to get the sugar to dissolve; no undissolved sugar sinks to the bottom of the glass.

    Many pastry chefs and bakers prefer using superfine sugar in order to create higher-rising cakes with a slightly finer crumb (grain). For the same reason, superfine sugar is used to make delicate baked goods such as meringues and angel food cakes. As a result, superfine sugar is sometimes called bakers’ sugar.

    Just substitute the same amount as regular granulated sugar in your recipes.

    You can find superfine sugar in most supermarkets, or buy it online.

     

    Make Superfine Sugar. You can convert table sugar to superfine sugar in a blender or food processor. Let the sugar powder settle for a few minutes before removing the lid of the appliance.

  • Check out the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Grenadine

    First, what is grenadine?

    A deep red syrup used for hundreds of years to flavor and give a reddish/pink tinge to drinks and other recipes, true grenadine is made from pomegranate juice and sugar syrup. The name comes from the French grenade and the Spanish grenada, words for pomegranate.

    Alas, today’s mass-marketed “grenadine” is faux grenadine, containining neither pomegranate nor sugar. If you want to pour HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) into your drink, go ahead.

    Otherwise, look for artisan brands and check the label.

    Or, make your own grenadine. Here’s the recipe.

    Making grenadine syrup couldn’t be easier. And once you’ve made a batch, you can use it to make dozens of delicious recipes: not just drinks, but everything from mains to desserts.

    And you can give it as gifts.

  • Grenadine Overview & History
  • Grenadine Recipes
  •  

    Grenadine. Some European brands contain
    alcohol and are drunk as a cordial. Photo
    by Coatilex | Wikimedia.

     

      

    Comments

    NEWS: Honeybees On The Farm

    We just received a beautiful email from Greg Quinn, a currant grower whose juice, Currant C, is a NIBBLE favorite and one of the highest antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic foods.

    We love the description of the honeybees on the farm and would like to share it with all honey lovers:

    Well, we’re wrapping up spring in good stead here on the farm. I captured and hived a swarm of honey bees last week and this hive will be the start of a new bee yard over by the currant fields.

    It was a robust swarm of about 8,000 bees (3,500 bees weigh 22 lbs) and they’re doing great in their new home. Within 2 days they had made propolis* from the resin of tree sap and sealed up any small cracks and covered over all the knots in the new hive body. They are making honey and storing pollen and her majesty is laying about 500 eggs a day. In about a month, she’ll be up to 2,000 eggs each day!!!

     

    How cute is this? A honeybee bringing a
    grain of pollen back to the hive. Photo by
    Muhammad Mahdi Karim | Wikimedia.

     

    If all goes well, the population of the hive should be in excess of 30,000 bees going into the winter. Worker bees, all females, live for 4-6 weeks during the working season; but the queen can live up to 6 years. The males, called drones, serve only one function [to breed new bees] and pretty much hang around most of the time eating the honey the females make, so they’re pretty expendable. Often they’ll be kicked out of the hive in the fall, to save the honey for the working members of the community.

    Honey is one of the most perfect foods on the planet, containing many of the amino acids which are the building blocks of life.

    Honey will never go bad and local raw (unpasteurized) honey is great to combat allergies because, homeopathically, it’s made from the same pollen that causes the allergies.

    Honey bees and farms share a very important relationship and I love my bees.

    *BEEHIVE TRIVIA: Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows or other botanical sources. They use it as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive—small gaps of a quarter-inch or smaller. Larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax.
     
    Thanks, Greg!

  • Discover the products of Currant C.
  • Learn all about honey—types of honey, pairing honey, honey trivia, our favorite honeys and honey recipes—in our Honey Section.

      

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