Many of the traditional Fourth of July picnic foods wouldn’t be possible without the symbiotic relationship between pollinators and fruit trees or plants. Apples, blueberries and strawberries top the list of pollinated foods. You can thank a bee for the tequila in your margarita, too!
Different types of honey are used for different purposes. Did you know there are more than 300 different types of honey produced in the United States? Each honey has a distinct color and flavor, depending on the floral source. As a general rule, the lighter the flavor, the more mild the taste.
Alfalfa honey is white or extra light amber in color, according to the National Honey Board. It’s perfect table honey for everyday use. Avocado honey is gathered from California avocado blossoms. Dark in color, avocado honey has a rich, buttery taste that makes wonderful dressings and sauces. Blueberry honey is produced in New England and Michigan. Pure Blueberry Honey is the result of bees gathering nectar from blueberry bushes. It’s used in sauces and baked goods. Buckwheat honey is dark brown. It’s strong, distinct flavor lends itself to barbecue sauces and baked goods.
I’ll be honest. I hadn’t given much thought to the various types of honey until I attended Pollinator Fest last Saturday at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. As part of that event, guests could sample different types of honey and sauces made from honey. I particularly enjoyed Buckwheat honey, which 2016 Iowa Honey Queen Maia Jaycox suggests using in recipes when a distinct honey flavor is desired. Use a mild honey, like clover honey, when delicate flavors are desired.
In addition to being a natural sweetener, honey is a natural energy food. It provides 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, which makes it an ideal fuel for your body when working muscles. (Click here for my kids’ favorite recipe for Honey Energy Bites.) Consuming honey during a workout helps delay fatigue. If you ingest honey within 30 minutes of finishing a workout, it helps refuel the body and can help decrease or delay muscle soreness.
Pictured to the right is Through Oct. 31, Reiman Gardens is hosting the Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks exhibit. It features 13 larger-than-life displays made with 500,000 LEGO® brick pieces by artist Sean Kenney. Be sure to read the plaques at each exhibit. The plaque on this particular sculpture reads, “Pollinators & flowers have symbiotic relationship. As pollinators get nectar, they transfer pollen.”
Whether you’re spending this holiday weekend relaxing on a boat, running a race or weeding your garden, remember to stay hydrated! I’m sharing a recipe from the Iowa Honey Producers Association for Honey Lemonade. Doesn’t that sound refreshing on a hot summer’s day? Another recipe picked up at Pollinator Fest from the Iowa Honey Producers is for homemade Honey BBQ sauce. It’s quite simple to make, so I’m looking forward to trying it on pork chops and chicken.
There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy honey! To enjoy honey in your home, follow these tips from the honey association:
Store honey at room temperature as refrigeration speeds up the crystallization process.
If honey crystallizes, remove the lid and place the jar in a container of warm water until the crystals dissolve.
For best results, use recipes developed for using honey. When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for half of the sugar called for in the recipe.