Only a few desserts excite me — my wife’s special banana pudding, blackberry cobbler and fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. If biscuits are served with a meal, I save mine for later then enjoy it with local honey or cane syrup. That’s my typical dessert.
Naturally sweet treats are better than anything crafted with human hands. Sure, I savor a slice of key-lime pie following a seafood supper, a slice of pumpkin pie to top off a Thanksgiving feast or a bowl of rainbow sherbet at the end of a hot summer day. Naturally sweet peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries are better, though, and they’re better for me.
There are limits to natural sweetness. Jerry J’s Country Café in Waycross serves great country dinners, which include “cathead” biscuits. After finishing my entrée and country veggies, I’ll soak that biscuit in sweet butter, which is natural, then smother it with some of their cane syrup, also natural even though it’s imported all the way from Cairo, Ga.
As a boy living in nearby Thomas County, sugar cane was a seasonal snack. My papa would slice off a foot of a sugar-cane stalk, and I’d peel the outer bark with my teeth. I could chew on that chunk of sugar cane all day. Sometimes, Papa would give me a fresh sweet potato and his pocket knife to remove the skin. I’d eat that raw, unwashed sweet potato, which satisfied my craving for something sweet. And it was good for me.
Lately, I’ve started reading labels. The lists of preservatives on items promoted as healthy suggest the contrary. Locally-produced honey is natural, and it can help you fight allergies. However, most commercial honey is processed honey, a blend of honey produced in third-world countries or China.
Unprocessed, real honey will not spoil. It may turn to sugar, but you can return it to its golden liquid state by warming the jar in hot water. In Colonial times, honey was a substitute for sugar in tea and coffee. I imagine it was harder for England to tax something produced by local honey bees.
According to WHFoods.com, honey’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties help boost immunity. It also can help prevent colon cancer, relieve coughs, promote blood-sugar control, heal wounds and improve athletic performance.
I’ve read the warnings about not giving raw honey to kids younger than a year old, but I’m suspicious of the infant botulism cases linked to honey that were first diagnosed in the U.S. in the early 1970s. I wonder if cases like that are caused by that processed clover honey blend imported from Argentina, Brazil and China.
I never took the risks and waited until my kids were older before letting them try honey. Now, I have to hide my special honey from my youngest daughter, who thinks honey is for making green tea tolerable for drinking. I agree that green tea needs something, but my honey is for special occasions and breakfast.
The sweetest honey varieties are tupelo, orange blossom and wild flower. I drizzle a little honey on pancakes or waffles and add another natural sweetener, maple syrup, which usually is imported from way up yonder in Maine. The combination of honey and maple syrup is unbelievably delicious.