The thick, sweet liquid we call honey is made by busy bees that flutter about flowers, collecting nectar and processing it into liquid gold. Just as important, these busy bees help to pollinate flowers for fruits, vegetables and nuts, insuring that a variety of crops develop for food.
Honey produced in Hawaii is derived from a number of sources including kiawe, macadamia, lilikoi, strawberry guava, lehua, coffee, Christmas berry and other tropical flora. Generally, the darker the honey, the stronger the flavor; it’s a good idea to taste honeys and differentiate their characteristics, something you can do at farmers markets.
Store honey in your cupboard, not in your refrigerator. Try to use honey within a year, though it can last longer. If honey crystallizes, heat it in its jar in a pan of simmering water for 10 to 15 minutes or in a microwave for 30 seconds.
Sweet honey can take the place of sugar in coffee or tea; spread it on toast and biscuits; include honey in salad dressings and desserts. Here’s a great cookie recipe:
Combine 1-2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor. Add 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter and pulse until mixture is grainy.
Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or an 8-inch square pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Poke holes in the dough with a fork, then bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven.
Heat 5 tablespoons of honey in a microwave until warm and runny. Pour honey over the shortbread, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
Return pan to oven and bake for another 3 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. Cut while warm into wedges or squares. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.