Honey for all your Baking, Cooking and First Aid Needs

by Sarah on February 6, 2010

Today, while researching for his new startup, my husband told me “you have to go back to the very beginning to find something new” and at least in terms of honey this seems to be true. Most everyone knows that honey is made by the cleverest of insects, the bees, which gather nectar and transform it with their alchemy into golden sweet syrup. But recently I discovered that honey has many other uses, far from the culinary realm, where it helps sweeten life in more ways than once thought possible.

Almond blossoms attracting bees

My husband has been raving about honey for years, swallowing jars full at the slightest sign of an incoming cold and even when he is perfectly healthy. All this I dismissed as an old wives’ tale but when he decided to pour half a jar of honey on my son’s ear, which was beginning to swell from a bee sting I decided his devotion to honey was beginning to border on obsession. It is one thing to pour honey on your son’s ear in the privacy of your own home but another thing altogether when your passion for alternative medicine is done in full view of curious shoppers at the super market. “You will see!” my husband told me, in complete confidence “His ear will heal twice as fast!”

I really could not see the point of having my son’s ear dripping with honey, “It will only attract a hundred more bees!” I told him, getting a bit annoyed at the spectacle my son’s ear was attracting.

Then I stumbled upon several articles which confirmed everything my husband has been telling me- that honey has been scientifically proven to cure all varieties of skin conditions by their unique antibacterial properties. In fact, it is surprising that it took this long to discover what ancient Egyptians and Greeks had been aware of thousands of years ago and which became lost in the advancement of medicine.

Not all honey is created equal however, their differences stemming from the molecular properties of the nectars the bees collect. Manuka honey, derived from nectar of the indigenous New Zealand bush of the same name has been found to possess extraordinary healing properties based on the research headed by Professor Molan of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato. According to Prof. Molan, honey’s broad range of effectiveness arises from its antimicrobial activity, unique osmolarity and hydrogen peroroxide releasing properties. It has become an important contributor in controlling infections caused by resistant bacteria, a growing problem in hospitals around the world. Honey has been neglected for years in favor of conventional medicine and is now undergoing a renaissance for a wide spectrum of applications.

In Israel, as well, the use of honey and its products, otherwise known as apitherapy, has become more widely accepted by the medical community after scientific validations. Research conducted in Israel found that honey alleviated symptoms in patients undergoing radiation therapy and as Professor Molan established, works as a potent antibiotic.

It should be noted however, that it is not recommended to give infants  honey because it may be contaminated by spores of Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism.

Honey, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken

This is one of the easiest chicken dishes to put together and  it is always tastes much more complex than it really is. The honey caramelizes and creates a delicious glaze on the chicken. Heating loses some of the health benefits of honey but none of the flavor.

12 small chicken drumsticks (or 4-5 chicken thighs)

1/2 cup honey

1 head of garlic separated into cloves without pealing

2-3 sprigs rosemary

Salt/Pepper

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a wide deep pot fry the chicken until golden in the vegetable oil, add the honey, spices and garlic and mix so the chicken is well coated. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the honey begins to bubble, add about 1/2 cup of water and the rosemary. Cook while covered for 40 minutes on low. Check to see if the sauce is thick enough, there should be only a few tablespoons left. Continue cooking without the lid to reduce sauce if necessary or add a bit of water if the sauce isn’t thick enough so it doesn’t burn. It is possible to put the pot in the oven at 180 C for 40 minutes instead.

References:

Honey and royal jelly, like human milk, abrogate lectin-dependent infection-preceding Pseudomonas aeruginosa adhesion

Batia Lerrer, Keren D Zinger-Yosovich, Benjamin Avrahami and Nechama Gilboa-Garber

The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

The ISME Journal (2007) 1, 149–155; doi:10.1038/ismej.2007.20; published online 17 May 2007

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