The honey pledge; substituting for sugar

The carbon footprint of local honey is practically zero.  Indeed, given the role of the honey-producers in pollinating plants, I reckon my jar of honey takes you into carbon credit.  I harvest my honey with a creaking hand-powered centrifuge and I package it in recycled jamjars.  I feel virtuous with every sweet spoonful I feed myself.

And of course it tastes great, and better than alternative forms of sweetener. Sugar is to honey what white noise is to music; the uncomplicated sheer sweetness of the white stuff is reliable but ultimately gives me a headache, while honey adds subtlety.

It’s better for you, too – research (Phillips, Carlsen and Blomhoff, 2009) reckoned that substituting honey for sugar increases antioxidants in the diet by the equivalent of an extra serving of berries or nuts every day. Bite me.

So I took a pledge a few years ago that I wouldn’t use sugar any more. I stir honey into herbal tea, and I drizzle honey over cereal, and I have learned to use honey in baking.

That takes a bit of practice, and a few tricks, but it’s worth it. Honey has a slight acidity which has to be offset in baking with a little extra bicarb of soda.  Honey is also obviously  a little more liquid which means you have to adjust the amounts of liquid you use elsewhere in a recipe.  And it leads to cakes browning more quickly so you have to aim off for that with the oven temperature. But these are all small adjustments, and you work them out with a bit of instinct and a bit of trial and error – more art than science.

Are you ready to take the honey pledge?

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