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31 May 2012

We’re buzzing about honey… plus recipe for Zingy Honey Chilli Chicken

Photo: © childsdesign
 Sweet, gooey and scented, it’s easy to become slightly obsessed with honey, well for us anyway. Everywhere we go, we like to pick up a jar of local honey – there’s always a pot to hand in the pantry. The Artisan Food Trail is lucky enough to have Cardona & Son and as well as rearing rare breed pigs in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire they are enthusiatic beekeepers and also run a hive management scheme.

The best place to find good local honey is from your farmer’s market or deli – the label will have the exact address of origin. Decent local honey may not be cheap, but it is the pure unadulterated product likely to carry the signature flavour of our indigenous countryside and even our gardens.
It is truly amazing just how those busy honey bees gather the nectar and turn it into such a seductive food for us to plunder.

Photo: © childsdesign
Generally, bees can fly up to six miles from the hive but one or two is more common if food sources are close by. They collect the pollen and nectar in the spring (when most plants are in flower) and take it back to the hive where they process and store honey in honeycombs to be used as their winter sustenance. Bees make more honey than they actually need and a typical hive can hold up to around 25lb (11kg) surplus.

Depending on the types of plants that the bees forage on, the honey can be either runny and clear or opaque and set. The flowers also impart their unique flavour characteristics too, so honeys can vary considerably from region to region.

As well as spreading it on our toast in the morning, we love using honey in cooking – it is great for baking as it has hygroscopic qualities, meaning that it attracts water, thereby keeping cakes moist for longer.

Apart from the kitchen, honey also has a place in the medicine cabinet too. Its antiseptic properties make it a soother of sore throats and it is even good for the skin when applied externally.
Honey lasts practically for ever too, an explorer found a 2000 year old jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb and said it tasted delicious.

As honey is sweet thoughts normally turn to desserts but we’ve decided against this and used honey in a delicious main course savoury dish instead, to demonstrate the versatility of this gorgeous substance.

Zingy Honey Chilli Chicken (or Pork) – View recipe

Photo: © childsdesign

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