Honey has been sought after for thousands of years as a sweet treat, and the process of making honey is pretty incredible. It takes nectar from about 2 million flowers to make a single pound of honey. A colony consists of tens of thousands of worker bees, which makes sense when you consider that one hive can produce up to 60 pounds of honey, but a single bee can only produce about one-twelfth of a teaspoon in its lifetime. The USDA reports that between domestic production and international imports, the U.S. consumes about 400 million pounds of honey a year. That’s a lot of honey!
Technically, in order to be called honey, nothing can be added or taken away from the product. Other than sometimes heating to pasteurize it, no other processing should be done to the product. This isn’t always the case, and a lot of major chain grocery stores and fast food joints ultra-filter their honey, removing all pollen, to keep it as crystal clear as possible. Here’s the thing: crystallized honey is still more than fine to eat, and ultra-filtered honey has been known to cover up honey laundering scandals like illegally imported Chinese honey laden with antibiotics. If this concerns you, look for raw and/or organic honey.
Depending on where it’s made and what flowers the bees are pulling from, honey can taste dramatically different. Orange blossom honey is a bit citrusy and wonderful in cakes and cookies; clover honey is mild and great as “table honey”; buckwheat honey is dark and strongly flavored and great for barbecue; eucalyptus honey tastes mildly medicinal; tupelo honey is particularly light colored and mild; and “mad honey” from Turkey, produced from a specific type of Rhododendron, is hallucinogenic and potentially deadly. We’ll stick with the standard jars.
Here, we use its flavorful sweetness as a main ingredient in six savory and sweet recipes.
1. Baked Honey Sriracha Wings
These wings from Damn Delicious are spicy and sweet and salty, a combo that spells addictive. They’re tossed in a buttery spice mixture and then baked and broiled, not deep fried, to crisp perfection. The sticky glaze is sweet with just a bit of kick to keep it really interesting. There are two ways you could go about choosing honey for this recipe: you could go for a deep, nutty, and kind of spicy chestnut honey that can stand up to the Sriracha, or you could choose a more mild honey like clover or orange blossom to not challenge the spicy sauce.
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
Honey Sriracha glaze
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in honey, Sriracha, soy sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil; simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine wings, butter, vegetable oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste. Place wings onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, using metal tongs to turn at halftime. Brush wings with Sriracha glaze and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisp and crusted.
Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds, if desired.