Cook's Exchange: Hot water helps honey regain smooth personality

January 22, 2014 

All varieties of honey crystallize at different rates, or so says a beekeeper for more than 25 years.

"I kept as many as 100 hives of honeybees for 25 years in Warwick, N.Y.," Jim Conklin said. "The sugary honey referred to by the writer refers to granulated or crystallized honey. All honeys crystallize at different rates."

Lynette Faul asked readers for their suggestions in how to bring the honey back to a liquid state. Conklin is one of four readers who offer help to Faul.

"To de-crystallize honey, put water in a pan on the stove with less water in it than there is honey in the jar. Do not put the honey container in the water at this time," Conklin said. "Heat the water to a low boil and turn off. Loosen the lid on the honey jar and put it into the water. This lets the air escape. This procedure may have to be repeated more than once to get the honey liquid. Always store liquid honey at room temperature."

While some of us heat honey in the microwave, Conklin said this will overheat the honey, killing all the amino acids and some of the vitamins and minerals in the honey.

"These are what makes honey good for you," he said.

Jan Doolittle of Biloxi, Miss., shared an article from Montcobeekeepers.org in The Netherlands.

"Honey crystallization or granulation is a natural phenomenon by which honey turns from liquid (runny) state to a semi-solid state, as honey is a highly concentrated sugar solution, containing more than 70 percent sugars and less than 20 percent water. Beekeepers refer to this as set honey."

The article also says that crystallization does not affect the honey except for color and texture. The honey is not spoiled and does retain the flavor and quality characteristics of liquid honey.

Honey users often like this hardened honey since it is easier to spread and richer tasting. Doolittle,

like Conklin, said a hot water bath, or bain marie, is the best way to re-liquefy the honey, although Doolittle, like me, often uses the microwave to warm the honey.

"It melts right back to liquid," she said.

Ellen Nyberg does the same thing. "I keep mine in the refrigerator and it crystallizes. A few seconds in the microwave brings it right back."

Monkey pie for dessert

Steve Petersen said he didn't know if these monkey pies were like the one served at the Banyan Café at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota or not, but he thought the Bradenton reader might try them and see what she thinks is closest.

BANANA CREAM PIE or CHUNKY MONKEY PIE

1 (4-serving size) box of instant chocolate or vanilla pudding (I did vanilla)

1 cup cold water

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 prepared pie crusts (you choose: regular, graham cracker, Nilla Wafer, shortbread, even Oreo. I used regular Marie Callender's frozen crust for the banana and Oreo for the chunky monkey.)

6 bananas, sliced

2 cups whipping cream, divided

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Dash of vanilla

In a large bowl, combine the pudding, water and condensed milk. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes; place in fridge to chill for a few minutes.

In another bowl, whip 1 cup of whipping cream until soft peaks form.

Remove pudding mixture from fridge. Add whipped cream to the pudding and gently fold in. Spoon a little of the pudding mixture into each pie crust, just enough to coat the bottom of the pie crust.

Layer each crust with banana slices and top each pie with remaining pudding mixture.

Whip remaining 1 cup cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until thick and fluffy. Spread on top of pie. Garnish with additional banana slices if desired. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Chunky Monkey Pie version

Blend 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter into the pudding/water/sweetened condensed milk in Step 1 above. (I used an Oreo crust. and divided the pudding/water/milk mixture, then blended1/4 cup peanut butter into one of the pudding mixtures before putting in the fridge, thus allowing one banana cream pie and one chunky monkey pie. I personally do think the peanut butter would taste better if you used chocolate pudding instead of the vanilla, but that's just my preference.)

-- Submitted by Steve Petersen

MONKEY TAIL PIE

Servings: 12

Cake:

1 (14 ounce) package banana bread mix

1 cup milk

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

Filling:

1 (3- 1/2-ounce) package instant vanilla flavor pudding and pie filling

1 cup milk

1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 bananas, sliced

Topping:

1/2 cup chocolate fudge frosting

1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine all cake ingredients; mix well. Pour batter into sprayed pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 33-36 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from pan; place on wire rack. Cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine pudding mix and 1 cup milk; beat with wire whisk until pudding thickens. Fold in whipped topping and bananas.

With long serrated knife, cut cake into 2 layers. Place bottom cake layer on serving plate. Top with filling and remaining cake layer.

In small microwave-safe bowl, microwave frosting on high for 15-30 seconds, stirring until smooth but not runny. Pour warm frosting over top of cake, spreading frosting to edges and allowing some to run down sides. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on warm frosting. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator.

-- Submitted by Steve Petersen

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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