WV Farm2Fork: Honey for every meal

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Honey, including flavored honeys from Thistle Dew Farms and flavored cream honey from Mountain State Honey Co.

What most of us know as honey can be found in a plastic bear-shaped jar on a high shelf in the grocery store. In truth, honey has nuances in flavor and color that can make a difference in the foods you pair with it. Honey can also take on other distinctive textures when mixed with butter, whipped or cooked.

At the Capitol Market, the recently reopened WV Marketplace and The Purple Onion offer a range of local and regional honeys that can help you discover these differences and offer opportunities for you to try honey in recipes that showcase its versatility. And, yes, some of them do come in the honey bear jar!

Basically, honey is made by bees using the nectar from flowers. It is graded by color with the clear, golden honey often being more expensive than the darker varieties. The flavor of any particular honey varies on the type of flower from which the nectar was harvested.

Honey has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 5,000 years. It can provide a healthier option to sweetening meals and can add browning and excess moisture to a dish.

Because honey is sweeter than sugar, you may need to use less when you substitute it in your recipes; and, because it is considered a liquid, you may need to make other adjustments as well. Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid too much browning when you make a switch from sugar to honey.

A note of caution: Honey should not be given to children under 12 months of age.

WV Marketplace carries locally produced honey products from Mountain State Honey of Parsons, and ThistleDew Farms of Proctor. Mountain State Honey is available in basswood, a light-colored honey with a slight minty taste, and tulip poplar, which is a darker honey.

The company has introduced a line of flavored cream honeys, including raspberry, hazelnut, cinnamon butter and peanut butter. Spread a little honey butter love on your morning bagel or biscuit for a new breakfast treat!

ThistleDew Farm products include wildflower honey and the company’s West Best Hot Honey Mustard. The company also offers flavored honeys, including orange, rosemary, lavender, lemon and chili pepper. It only takes a little imagination to find ways to let these spice up your menu.

If you want to try your hand at making your own spreads and honey condiments, try these Honey Butter and Hot Honey recipes. You can jazz up the honey butter with your own additions of herbs, spices or citrus zests.

For breakfast or afternoon tea, try the Raspberry Scones and Honey Muffins. The nice thing about these recipes is they are easy to whip up and ready quickly. Using the season’s freshest raspberries adds to the tasty scones and wouldn’t hurt as a side to the honey muffins, either!

Head into lunch or dinner with a salad that gets a little sweetness from honey. The Honey Lime Salad Dressing can dress a dish of fresh greens or a fruity salad of green grapes, kiwi fruit and tart green apples.

The Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing highlights two of early summer’s best produce choices — strawberries and spinach — in a salad that is quick to put together and fancy enough for a special dinner.

You might not think of honey and vegetables as companions, but these Honey Grilled Vegetable Skewers will have you rethinking that. Plus, we love that the combination mixes eggplant with the peppers, onions and potatoes that you most often think of skewered veggies.

For a sweet and savory light meal, try a Grilled Fruit Pizza that features grilled melons and gets a salty taste from prosciutto.

For a sweet treat at the end of the day, try Grilled Stone Fruit or Berry Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing. Easy, pretty and full of the season’s freshest flavors, these may become family summer favorites.

Allan Hathaway is the owner of The Purple Onion and WV Marketplace at Charleston’s Capitol Market. For more information, visit the web pages at capitolmarket.net/merchants/purple-onion and capitolmarket.net/merchants/wv-marketplace; call The Purple Onion at 304-342-4414 and WV Marketplace at 304-720-2244. Email Allan at purpleonionco@aol.com.