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Ideas for using honey in cooking

06.09.2022 14:56

Radovljica is a land of beekeepers, and, thanks to the Museum of Apiculture, which has been housed in Radovljica Manor for over 60 years, it is rooted in the conciousness of Slovenes as the Slovenian 'capital' of beekeeping. And, to top it all, it's just a stone's throw from the birth place of Anton Janša. 

On the occasion of the traditional Day of Honey in Cuisine, which took place on Saturday September 17 in Lesce, we took a look back at this valued ingredient. We asked Marija Arh Ivanšek, a longtime professor at the Radovljica Secondary School of Hospitality and Tourism, about how honey is used in cooking.
Before you set about trying dishes that include honey, we definitely recommend a visit to the Museum of Apiculture in Radovljica, where you can not only learn how honey is made, but also what else bees produce in addition to honey. Bees really are extraordinary creatures and the Slovenian nation holds them in particularly high respect.


How should we decide which honey to use in cooking?

“Cooking with honey is similar to pairing food and wine – the basic rule could be that lighter shades go with lighter dishes, while darker shades go with heavier, more filling food,” Marija Arh Ivanšek begins by explaining. Until this year, when she finally retired and thus said goodbye to the school and her teaching career, Marija had been teaching students at various honey-based events, as well as others, at the Radovljica Secondary School of Hospitality and Tourism. She also emphasised an important point: “It's definitely a case of trying what goes together, and combining them so that the honey complements the food, or vice versa.”

When talking about some general instructions, acacia honey is the most neutral and is used when, for example, we don't want an excessively distinct honey taste in desserts, but we are just looking for something to add sweetness to the dish. Chestnut honey, which is of a darker shade, can make food taste somewhat bitter, so it should be used sparingly.

Linden honey is the freshest and goes well with fresh dishes, including white meat. Forest honey, meanwhile, is recommended more for spicy dishes and also for red meat. Marija Arh Ivanšek also points out that when using honey in cooking, care must be taken not to overheat this valuable ingredient, but rather, if possible, to include it in the dish after cooking.


In which dishes can honey be incorporated?

In the past, the students of Radovljica Secondary School of Hospitality and Tourism created a truly diverse range of culinary dishes on the Day of Honey in Cuisine: from desserts to salads, all of which incorporated a drizzle of two of honey!

This year, the students of the school – this time under the mentorship of professors Simon Malac and Tone Tuško – began actively thinking about how to incorporate honey into cuisine prior to the event. For this year's event, they made šmorn (shredded sweet pancakes), served with honey sauces. You can find a tip for how to make this dish in Špela's Pantry.


Just to add: some diverse recipes for dishes that include honey have been gathered together at the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, where various interesting ideas can be found, including the honey queen's soup, chocolate 'salami' with honey, various pancakes, honey breads, creams, honey potica, and more.

Local beekeepers gave us a tip that you can sweeten your morning coffee with honey instead of sugar and you can order coffee with honey, as well as other drinks that feature honey, at the Karavna Panj coffee shop, which is located on the upper floor of the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska (Rožna dolina 50a, Lesce), which is where the traditional, annual Day of Honey in Cuisine event is held.

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