Nature’s ‘liquid gold’ creates a buzz in the kitchen. Explore different types of honey and their uses.
Honey was the main sweetener before sugar cane was introduced. Well known for its medicinal powers, honey's use in cooking is irreplaceable.
This sweet, sticky, gold liquid is made from the nectar collected by the honeybee from flowers. The bee collects the liquid nectar with its tongue and stores it in the hive. Worker bees add enzymes to the nectar and transfer it to the honeycomb. During this process, water is added and the nectar becomes honey.
There are many varieties of honey available, from single-flower sources, such as clover or bluegum, to herb-flower varieties, such as lavender and fennel.
All-purpose regular honey is generally mild-flavoured. It is blended to achieve consistency in flavour, colour and texture.
Leatherwood honey is deep golden and is available in both its natural form and creamed. Unblended leatherwood honey has a unique spicy flavour and smell, quite different from that of regular honey.
Yellowbox honey is widely regarded as Australia's premium honey. It's an all-purpose, mild-flavoured honey, great for sweet baking and savoury glazes, marinades or stir-fries.
Manuka honey is produced from flowers of the manuka bush, which is indigenous to New Zealand. Not only delicious to eat, manuka honey is renowned as a natural remedy for an array of ailments.
Creamed honey is pure honey with nothing added. Its thick, 'candied' texture is due to controlled crystallisation. Packaged creamed honey can be hard to use once it has set in the jar. To soften, microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50%) for 20 to 40 seconds.
Honeycomb, one of the purest foods available, contains honey in an edible wax which has immunity-boosting properties.
Use a mild honey for pastry cooking. Stronger varieties, such as leatherwood, are good in syrups for poaching fruit. Darker honey, such as clover, suits Christmas puddings, slices and fruit loaves.
To make a quick topping, warm honey and add a little ground nutmeg or cinnamon. Spread over toast, drizzle over pancakes, waffles or ice-cream, or swirl through thick, plain yoghurt.
To make a honey and soy dressing for Asian-style salads, combine 1/3 cup peanut oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, juice from 1 lime, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 crushed garlic clove in a screw-top jar. Secure the lid and shake well.