With the new year upon us, it’s open season for all sorts wellness mumbo-jumbo and fad-diet fanaticism. You may have heard about cutting sugar by replacing it with any number of substitutes, but there’s only one that we can wholeheartedly recommend: raw, local honey. In the spirit of sound advice, here are some simple tips to simplify your sweetener swapping.
Spare A Little
Gram for gram, honey is sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use quite as much in your recipes to get the same sweet result. A good rule of thumb: reduce the amount of sugar your recipe calls for by a quarter, so that 1 cup becomes ¾ cup, 2 tbsp become 1 ½ tbsp, and so on.
Find a Balance
Honey is a liquid, while granulated sugar is a solid, so you’ll need to reduce the other liquids in your recipe – like water, milk or oil – to keep the result from turning too gooey. For every cup of sugar you replace with honey, you’ll want to cut out 2 tbsp of the other liquids combined. But if you’re only replacing ½ a cup or less of sugar, there’s no need.
Stay in the Goldilocks Zone
Honey’s fructose content means that it heats up quickly and can easily go from golden to brown to blackened. When baking, lower the recipe’s recommended oven temperature by 25 degrees to keep things not-too-cold and not-too-hot for the honey.
Fluff it Up
White sugar is powdery and fine, but raw honey is thick, heavy stuff, meaning it can weigh down your dough. To help your dough rise up to the challenge, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of honey in your recipe.
Don’t Be a Sap
You already know that honey pairs perfectly with tea, coffee, toast and other breakfast foods. Since you’re already using some the mornings, try it on your pancakes or waffles instead of syrup.
If you’re replacing sugar with honey, make sure and make the most of it by using the good stuff: pure, raw and unfiltered local honey. Compared to white sugar, it has more naturally occurring vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and nutrients – all thanks to the bees.
Mix it Up
There’s nothing wrong with crunchy honey: those crystals are a sure sign that it’s raw and unfiltered. But if you’re going to stir some honey into a recipe, it sure helps if it’s all liquid. All you need to do is place your honey jar, without its lid, in hot water and watch carefully as it warms. With a little patience, it’ll be ready for any recipe.
Lay it on Thick
If you’ve ever been caught sticky-handed after a particularly rowdy honey-sampling session, you know how tough it is to get every last bit unstuck. To spare yourself and your cookware the trouble, brush or spray your measuring cups with a bit of oil before adding any honey.
And, as always, Local Hive’s one and only Honey Doctor and Author of The Honey Revolution, Dr. Ron Fessenden is here to help answer any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.