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Monday, November 14, 2011

The various uses of honey

Honey can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

Food Honey is most commonly consumed in its unprocessed state - e.g. liquid, crystallized or in the comb.  In these forms it is taken as medicine, eaten as food or incorporated as an ingredient into various food recipes.

Food ingredient The traditional use of honey in food preparations has been substituted in most cases by sugar and more recently by various sugar syrups derived from starches. These exhibit similar composition and characteristics, but at a much reduced cost.Honey is largely used on a small scale, but also at an industrialized level in baked products, confectionary, candy, marmalades, jams, spreads, breakfast cereals, beverages, milk products and many preserved products.

"Natural", health and biological products use honey abundantly as a sweetener of first choice, together with non-refined sugars substituting for refined sucrose.  In fact, honey can substitute for all or part of the normal sugar in most products. Limitations are presented on one side by costs and handling characteristics, and on the other by the natural variations in honey characteristics which change the end product, making it more variable and requiring more frequent adjustments in the industrial formulations. 

Baked products that contain honey tend to dry out more slowly, have a lesser tendency to crack, and offer an improved aroma. 

Confectionary production includes honey. For the production of caramels, honey is only used in small quantities since its hygroscopicity (ability to absorb moisture) presents a major disadvantage.  It reduces the preservation time and softens the caramels at the surface, causing them to stick together. 

Breakfast cereals use honey either in its liquid, dried or pulverized form, both for better flavour and increased consumer appeal. It can be mixed with cereal flakes and dried fruits or applied as a component in the sweetening and flavouring film which covers the flakes.  The dryness or hardness of the cereal can be adjusted with the honey content and the degree of drying. 

Candy bars often use honey as a binding and sweetening agent. The bar ingredients are chopped to various sizes and mixed with the hot honey and sugar.  Depending on the composition and the degree of heating of the sugars (including the honey), a more or less solid product is obtained after cooling.  In any case, all such products are fairly hygroscopic and need to be packed with material impermeable to moisture. 

Ice cream sweetened with honey has never had much commercial success (except in Italy), since it melts more easily and at lower temperatures than those made with sugar.  This difference makes it difficult to distribute ice creams made from different sweeteners together.  In other countries, honey-based ice creams are marketed successfully when is sold in pre-packaged individual portions or larger 0.5 to two litre containers. The addition of more than 7.5 per cent honey softens the ice cream significantly, due to its lower freezing point. 

Industrial non-alcoholic beverage industries use honey due to the wider distribution of "functional" drinks, such as health-oriented strengthening and replenishing isotonic drinks. Iced tea can also be flavoured and clarified with the addition of honey.  These beverages use a special ultra filtration process to eliminate impurities, etc.  Such ultra filtered honey loses some of its flavour and colour, but is highly appreciated by food processors because it provides a more consistent product with lower production costs. 

Cake mixes, breads, and drink or energy health powders use dried or dehydrated honey.  Other applications are in cosmetics and alcoholic beverages, in which additional water content is not desired or where handling of liquids increases production costs. 
 
Source: The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

 

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