Three Easy Recipes for Delicious Alternatives to Honey
Agave’s not the only substitute for honey: Get creative with some pineapple-, apple-, and kiwi-based honey alternatives!
Honey can be a contentious subject, as we’ve discussed at length here on Tenderly before, but I’m sure we can all agree that the safety of bees is paramount not only for their own sake but for the health of the planet. I’m not here to make a case for whether or not you should eat honey though — instead I’ve got some homemade alternatives to that magical golden liquid, each occupying some of the same culinary spaces. Even if you were never the type to thickly spread honey on your toast, there is a place for some form of sugar in anyone’s pantry. As well as being indispensable in baking, it can in small quantities provide balance to savory flavors and depth to hot drinks and cocktails. Of course there are ingredients like agave or maple syrup that you can buy, but if you feel like being a bit left-field and hands-on, these recipes are for you.
1. Pineapple Coconut Sugar Syrup
This recipe is from CookingWithPlants.com
The first is a recipe that I saw online and was highly intrigued by. I’ll be honest, it tastes absolutely nothing like honey, as the flavors of its two ingredients are too strident to be anything but themselves — but the dark, sticky and fragrantly rich syrup that results is still very delicious.
- ¾ cup pineapple juice
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
Bring the ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan and then turn down the heat, allowing it to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until it has thickened and reduced down somewhat. Pour into a clean, dry jar and refrigerate once cooled. This will thicken upon standing but remains a pourable liquid.
Recommended use: Mojitos and daiquiris with a twist, drizzle it on ice cream, use to flavor a buttercream.
2. Apple Honey
This next recipe is a result of my trying to work out what the exact flavors of honey actually are — other than just, “honey” — and I pinpointed it down to a kind of mellow fruity sweetness that hits you in the back of the throat. To emulate this, I thought apples and lemons might come close. It turns out that I was not alone in thinking this, as several other people online have come to the same conclusion. This is my recipe, and it makes something that is the closest to pure honey in texture and taste — sweet yet complex, robust yet delicate, with a fantastic thick texture and gorgeous color. The apple flavor is present, but not overpowering, perfectly balanced by the lemon juice — I am simply delighted with it.
- 1 cup clear, pure apple juice
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of one lemon (including pips)
Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer, and let it gently bubble away for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until it has reduced by about half. Remove from the heat, then pour through a small sieve into a clean, hot glass jar. Allow to cool, then refrigerate or store in a cool dark place.
Note: The pips of lemons are full of pectin, which helps to give this its beautiful texture. I think plain white sugar works best here so that the apple flavor isn’t overpowered.
Recommended use: Where honey is specified in both sweet and savory cooking, in hot lemon drinks, warmed and drizzled liberally over pancakes and waffles.
3. Kiwi Jam
Another fruit that struck me as having a somewhat honeyed flavor was the kiwi. This might be surprising, given how sour they are, but honey is in fact quite acidic — and you can see from the ingredients that this is balanced by plenty of sugar. This jam isn’t anything like traditional honey to look at and I wouldn’t use it entirely interchangeably, but it does have some of that same delicious sweetness with fruity bite. This makes a small quantity of jam — you could easily double it to make more, or thin it with some boiling water to make it into a syrup.
- 3 kiwis
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of one lemon (including seeds)
Halve the kiwis and scoop the flesh out from the skins. Chop roughly, then place in a saucepan with the sugar and the juice and seeds of the lemon. The lemon seeds are full of pectin which helps the jam set quickly, but if you can’t be bothered fishing them out with a spoon at the end you could tie them in a small square of muslin.
Let the ingredients simmer over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often to break up the fruit and to prevent anything sticking to the base of the pan as the mixture bubbles away. Remove the jam from the heat and use a teaspoon to scoop out the lemon seeds. Then, pour the jam into a clean, hot glass jar and allow to cool before storing in the fridge. You could strain out the seeds if you want a more clear jam, but they contain omega 3, fiber, and antioxidants — might as well eat them!
Recommended use: This is for those of you who want something to spread on your toast. Although a kiwi daiquiri sounds pretty good, too…