Beyond Tea and Toast: 5 Surprising Ways to Make Honey an Effective Part of Everyday Life
Honey has long been heralded for its flavour and natural sweetness — in fact, there’s evidence of humans enjoying it as early as 8,000 years ago. It’s no secret that it’s delicious drizzled in tea or spread on toast, but there are other surprising ways to use honey that go beyond the breakfast table.
Alberta is one of the biggest honey producers in the world and its honey is known for its high quality and depth of flavour. Next time you reach for a jar of locally produced honey, consider these less common uses:
Use it to enhance flavour
Honey is essentially a bee colony’s source of carbohydrates and energy. For humans, it’s a golden powerhouse of energy benefits, nutrients, and vitamins that’s darn delicious, too. Honey’s unique taste adds a lot of flavour to baking, salad dressings or as a glaze on roast meat or vegetables. Since the flowers that bees visit to make honey can significantly change the flavour, it’s important to try different varieties. For example, reach for lightly sweet clover, delicately floral wildflower or mildly spicy alfalfa honey to determine personal preferences and what best complements any given recipe.
“I like to drizzle it on fruit,” says Connie Phillips, executive director of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission. “It pulls the natural juices out of the fruit to create this lovely combination of the honey flavour and the fruit juice flavour.”
Fight sore throats and coughs
If your mother used honey to ease a sore throat or ward off coughing fits, she was on the right track. Not only does the honey act to coat and soothe the throat, it also has antibacterial properties that can fight off germs. Raw honey is ideal and best consumed right out of the jar. Excess heat, including from pasteurization or even when stirred into hot tea, can minimize raw honey’s antibacterial properties.
“It can help to just have a spoonful of honey,” Phillips says. “For people who like to stay away from bottled cough syrups, it’s a natural option.”
While honey is most commonly associated with tea, Alberta beekeeper Richard Ozero of Good Morning Honey, a family-owned honey producer near Edmonton, suggests trying it with coffee. It can balance out coffee’s bitterness more naturally than refined sugar does and also lends a superior flavour.
“I put it in my coffee every morning,” Ozero says. “You don’t get the aftertaste you would with a sugar product. It changes the whole coffee experience.”
Use it as a skin or hair care product
Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it will hold onto moisture, making it an excellent ingredient for both skin and hair care. Honey can be applied directly to the skin, worked into the hair, or rubbed into the cuticles for nail health. And if your honey crystalizes—a natural process caused by temperature fluctuations—use it for an effective natural exfoliant for both the face and the body.
“It’s been used as part of skin care regimes since the days of Cleopatra,” Phillips says. “There are a lot of recipes for homemade skin care products online. Instead of buying an expensive jar of cream, you can use raw honey as a mask.”
Apply it to minor burns and cuts
For kitchen burns or small cuts or scrapes, raw honey can be applied much like a commercial antibacterial cream. Honey will not only soothe the skin and lock in moisture, it can also help speed along the healing process.
“Because honey is antimicrobial and antibacterial in nature, it works well on minor wounds or burns,” Ozero says. “Hospitals even use a product called Medihoney to treat patients.”
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