How Sweet It Is! The Buzz on Honey

Adding honey to hot tea is a great remedy to chase-away the winter cold and flu seasonal blues, but that’s just the start of the versatility of this wonderful ingredient.

This natural sweetener is oftentimes overlooked as the culinary superstar it is. The benefits are impressive: Since honey is composed mainly of carbohydrates and antioxidants, it not only helps build the immune system, but also provides a natural boost of energy.

If that isn’t reason enough to add honey to your future menu development plans, let us offer additional inspiration by outlining the various forms and offering innovative uses of honey.

With over 300 varieties of honey available for cookery (i.e. honeycomb, liquid, crystallized, whipped, butters), liquid honey is the frontrunner because of the ease in which it incorporates with other ingredients to make batters, vinaigrettes and marinades. As honey runs the spectrum of color, its hue can guide you to its flavoring power: Lighter colored honey has a more delicately sweet flavor while darker honeys are more robust in flavor and have higher antioxidant content.

For incorporating this sweet-treat into dishes your guests will love, try adding fresh, organic honey to naturally enhance the flavor of iced-teas or to cut-down the tartness of fresh lemonade with honey syrup; enliven the flavors of vinaigrette dressings with a touch of honey; also, honey is the perfect starting point for sauces, glazes and marinades for meats, such as beef, chicken, ham or pork, and fish dishes. For dessert, honey is a natural choice – drizzle over frozen yogurt, baked fruit tarts, shortbreads, carrot cake, pies, fruit, plain or chocolate cheesecakes and more.

Some U.S. restaurants have even taken their love of honey to the next level by installing or operating in-house apiaries, ensuring they have a plentiful supply to add to their offerings.

For example, in 2011 VSAG client Founding Farmers restaurant in Washington, D.C. established the largest known restaurant-owned urban apiary in the country in partnership with George Washington University. The apiary grew to a dozen hives in 2012, with a very successful yield of more than 16 gallons of honey for the season. The restaurant has incorporated honey into a number of different recipes in the kitchen, in the bakery, in the dessert studio as well as behind the bar in specialty cocktails. Additionally, as a ‘thank you’ gift for loyal guests, small sample jars are given out with a special postcard, hangtag and honey dipper – a great way to extend the brand and bring further awareness to the importance of honey bees to the overall foodchain.

Check out the specially designed infographic on Founding Farmers’ bee story below, courtesy of Washington, D.C. based writer and artist Marissa Bialecki:

For Founding Farmer apiary news, visit FF Apiary or follow the Founding Farmers bees on Twitter @ FFBees.

For more general honey information, visit or for honey suppliers, visit And for additional menu development ideas, visit VSAG Food and Menu Development on this site.