We Are Chefs

Ingredient of the Month: Honey

Honey is a silky sweet liquid produced by honeybees from flower nectar. It has the same sweetness as granulated sugar, but is a more natural product with health benefits. It comes in a variety of colors including white, amber, red, brown and black. The flavor depends on the nectar source and varies from mildly sweet and fruity to strong and herbal. The darker its color means more intense flavor. Honey is available year-round, but has the best taste and texture just after it’s harvested in summer or fall.

Honey can be collected from one specific flower nectar, several different flower nectars, or blended after collection. Most beekeepers keep bees in wooden hives with detachable framed combs. To harvest honey, the frames are placed in an honey extractor that spins to remove it from the comb. After it is extracted, it is ready for consumption. However, most honey goes through an additional heating and straining process to remove pieces of wax and other particles.

Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar for adding sweetness to dishes. It is high in carbohydrates that the body uses to convert into energy. It has trace amounts of manganese and iron, which are minerals that aid in energy production. Processing honey often removes many of the nutrients found in raw product, which contains a small amount of particles with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties to keep the body healthy.

Healthy Ingredient Contribution

Values from NutritionData.com and based on 1 cup

Carbohydrates: Honey offers 93 percent of the daily recommended value of carbohydrates, which comes in two main forms: sugars and starches. The body converts carbohydrates into glucose and uses some for quick energy. The rest is stored in the liver and muscles as energy reserves called glycogen. Once the body has enough glycogen, the rest turns to body fat.

Manganese: One serving of honey contains 14 percent of the daily recommended value of manganese. This macromineral plays an important role in bone development and in converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food into energy.

Iron: Honey provides 8 percent of the daily recommended value of iron, an essential mineral that aids in energy production and helps keep blood strong and healthy.

Riboflavin: One serving of honey offers 8 percent of the daily recommended value of riboflavin, an essential vitamin that aids in transforming proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food into energy. It helps protect the body from free radicals.

 Types and Varieties

There are over 300 unique types of honey available in the United States. Below are some of the most common types.

Selecting and Storing

Honey is available by processing method:

Culinary Uses

Interesting Facts

About Ingredient of the Month

 Ingredient of the Month is produced by ACF’s Education Department every month as a tool to help chefs educate children and families on healthy eating and nutrition through the Chef and Child Foundation. Tools for additional classroom education are available for download for free from the ACF website at www.acfchefs.org/CCF.

Download a printable flyer on honey to use in the classroom
Download hands-on activity flyer
Download recipes flyer for honey