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The Blog

Hold the Sugar, Honey.

Tara Chapman

Got a sweet tooth? Pull up a seat and kick up your feet, cause you’re in good company. Last night, after my groceries were delivered, I laid out a big plate of vegetables in the hopes that I’d choose health over cream popsicles. (Yes. I said “delivered”. Lazy and sweet tooth are two unfortunate conditions that tend to go hand in hand.) I doubt I need to tell you the outcome.

Even so, I cut out most sugar from diet several years ago. (Except for dark chocolate and ice cream. I am still human, for god’s sake.) Which means most processed foods had to go. Most folks don’t realize it, but most store-bought foods, from bacon to spaghetti sauce, contain mounds of sugar. But I still get plenty of sweet, thanks to my honeybees and their delicious honey. I stir it into my greek yogurt and overnight oatmeal, drizzle it atop bananas and peanut butter, and melt it into my hot drinks.

Although honey is still a sweetener, and should be consumed in moderation (eye roll), it does contain antioxidants and healthy enzymes that you won’t find in sugar. Keep in mind that even sugar labeled as “raw sugar” still starts as cane juice that has been stripped from the cane and boiled, along with any vitamins and minerals found in the sugar cane. The difference between raw sugar and more processed forms of the sweet stuff is simply the number of times the juice has been boiled. Raw honey, on the other hand, undergoes no processing at all. I’d argue it’s one of the few ‘whole food’ sweeteners. If you have to have a little sweet in your life, honey is definitely the smarter choice.

While it’s easy to substitute honey as a sweeter in your beverages, have you thought about making the move to using honey over sugar in your baked goods? If you need any more reasons to choose honey over sugar, consider the following:

  1. Honey has a higher percentage of fructose, and is therefore significantly sweeter than sugar. Less honey is required to achieve the same desired sweetness.
  2. Honey attracts and retains water (which is why it’s also so good for wound care) and makes baked goods more moist for longer than those baked with sugar.
  3. Baked goods made with honey tend to brown nicely, which can mean a beautiful golden color for your goods.
  4. The flavor profile of honey can vary greatly depending on the flowers the bees visited to make the honey. A honey lighter in color tends to have a milder flavor and not as sweet, while a darker honey tends to have a more robust sweetness and a bolder flavor. Imagine the possibilities when combined with your favorite recipes!

However, because honey is sweeter and in liquid form, a straight 1:1 substitution isn’t advised, unless you are substituting less than a cup of sugar. Following are a few recommended guidelines in how to substitute honey for sugar in recipes. Keep in mind that some experimentation may be required, and you can always start small by simply substituting half of the sugar in your favorite recipe.

  1. Spray your measuring cup or moisten with water to allow honey to slide out easily.
  2. Because honey is both sweeter and heavier than sugar, less honey is needed to obtain the same sweet result. Generally 1/2–3/4 cup of honey should be used in place of each cup of sugar. Start with less, and add more as necessary. (Note that most experts agree that up to 1 cup of sugar can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio.)

 

3. Because honey is a liquid, the liquids in the recipe need to be adjusted accordingly. For every 1 cup of honey used, 1/4 cup of liquid should be subtracted from the recipe. Hate math? Me too. Use the handy chart on the left to help guide you.

4. Honey causes baked goods to brown quicker than those baked with sugar, so reduce you oven temp by 25 degree F and don’t veer too far from watching over the oven!

5. Because honey is a bit acidic, you should add add 1/2 tsp baking soda per each cup of honey to ensure the batter will rise.

Though it takes a bit of thought to substitute honey for sugar in your baked goods, I promise the end result is worth it!

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