Beekeeping and Honey!
Where are you shopping this Christmas? December 02 2016, 0 Comments
- Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber. There are some pretty funky places out there now!
- Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Australian owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
- Maybe some golf games, bowling vouchers or festival tickets?
- There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants - all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a breakfast voucher for the local breakfast joint, or a pub meal at one of the re-vamped ones around Perth?
Remember, Christmas can be about supporting your local community, who often have their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
- Thinking about a heartfelt gift for a busy mum or dad? Parents would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day! (Hint Hint!)
- Perhaps your grandparents computer could use a tune-up, and you can easily find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
- Know someone who has everything? A voucher to a local community theatre or comedy act could be the go.
- OK, you were looking for something more personal... Local crafts make jewelry, pottery, housewares and beautiful wooden art. There are heaps of local markets and arts 'n' craft shows that can make a custom present special.
- Your dollars stays in the local economy! Research shows that for every $100 spent in a local business, $73 stays in the local economy and only $27 leaves. When you spend with a multi-national, $57 leaves the economy!
- There are huge food miles to be aware of - the average food basket (30 items) has traveled over 70,000km. That's almost two times around the Earth! There has been little research done on consumable items, but logic dictates that the travel miles on those items are just as high.
- Increased social benefit - shopping in your local community means you get to know your locals and local issues, increase social cohesion, and improve your own mental health by being part of your community.
- There is a great environmental benefit too - less packaging, less single use plastic when you give a voucher or experience rather than another gimmicky import.
Why does honey candy? April 18 2016, 0 Comments
It is coming to that time of year again, the cooler weather is finally upon us. And with it, comes a time when the honey will start to harden, known as crystallization, granulation or candying.
I often get asked why it candies; it is a quite a misunderstood phenomenon. Some people question whether this process means that it is an inferior product, poor quality or storage, or that it has been processed in some way. It is not. It is not off, it hasn't gone bad, so please do not chuck it out!!
Raw honey will candy over time. Some on-comb inside the hive (such as a clover or canola) and others take many, many years (such as Jarrah). Honey is dehydrated nectar which is ~80% water. The bees dehydrate it to between ~14-18% water, the rest of the honey being combination of fructose and glucose. The granulation of honey occurs when the saturation of glucose within the remaining water of the honey has occurred and there is an overabundance of glucose molecules in the honey that form crystals.
Because of the slightly different chemical compositions of different nectar, each honey is slightly different in the resulting balance of fructose and glucose. Those with a slightly higher glucose amount will candy faster. Raw honeys generally have a GI index of 35-40, whereas a homogenized/pasteurized (heated) honey will be about 60-65.
The quality of candied honey does not change, only the texture. Some people actually prefer the grainy, thicker texture of a candied honey. Interestingly, honey can also slowly change colour (generally darker) and taste over time as well, similar to how wine can change over time.
Candied honey can be much easier for things like cups of tea (non-drippy) and cooking (easier to measure for small quantities), however, if you prefer the liquid gold pop it in a pot of hot water or out in the sunshine on a warm day (with the lid well sealed). The ambient temperature over the day, at about 25 degrees or more, should bring it back to liquid by the time you get home from work! Do not put it in the microwave - it will be too hot, and if you don't gentle warm it, the candy process will be faster the second time around.
Using honey in cooking August 18 2014, 0 Comments
For the last few months, I have been writing our monthly newsletter, and including with it a receipe that includes honey.
Of course, this is the main reason I cook with honey rather than refined sugar being a more healthy sugar option - plus the taste is improved - but an additional bonus for cooking with honey is that you extend the life of your baked goodness. Since honey is a naturally occurring food preserver, using it in cooking keeps the moisture intact, and for every 1/2 cup of honey you use, you get about 1-1/2 extra weeks of life from your goods. And it will feel as fresh as the day you baked it!
It's actually a bit of trick to cook with honey; it isn't just about replacing your sugar. This is because it is also a liquid. So you have to reduce the amount of liquid you use in the ingredients list. You can generally replace honey 1:1 with sugar to replicate the same sweetness, however, you need to also reduce your liquids by about 1/3 to every 1/2 cup of honey you use. This is easy if you have milk in the receipe, I just cut the milk out of the receipe, but if there is no milk, you have to use trial and error to reduce some of the butter/oil of the receipe and the number of eggs you use.
Loaf: I reduce the oil by 1/3, and add my honey. If it is too sticky after mixing all the ingredients, I add another egg.
Cake: Milk is the first to be replaced, followed by butter. Reduce your butter by about 50g if you are adding 1/2 cup of honey.
Biscuits: Generally I cut an egg (for 1/2 cup of honey) if the receipe calls for 2 eggs. Reduce your butter if there is only 1 egg in the receipe.
Now PLEASE note, that the appearance and texture of your baked yummies will be different. Especially if you replace all your sugar with honey, rather than just some. The chemical makeup of the honey once baked, will make the receipe denser and bake to a golden-light brown. The first time I did my blondies (white chocolate brownies) they came out quite brown and I thought I had burnt them. But it was just the honey making them look a little more tanned ;-)
Trial and error is definitely the way to go, and if you are worried, just replace a little of your sugar with honey - this will at least give a little more life into your treats!
And don't forget to sign up to the newsletter if you don't want to miss out on the yummy honey receipes either! Just at the bottom of the page :-)