Honey jars with honeycomb

40 handy honey tips

Try these natural remedies, recipes and tips - and show your appreciation for the hard work of honey bees.
  Published:  15 Aug 2017    |      5 minute read

Honey is amazing stuff. Did you know it takes 12 bees a lifetime to produce a teaspoon of honey?

Its properties make it a versatile ingredient for all sorts of uses, in the kitchen and beyond.

But bees do a lot more than just produce honey. We rely on them to pollinate crops and plants that we depend on, keeping our ecosystems and economy healthy. Download our free Ethical Honey Guide to help you choose honey that will keep our bees happy.

You can also support Friends of the Earth's Bee Cause campaign and help to protect our bees.

Beauty treatments

1. Nail conditioner

Mix 2 tsps of thick honey, 2 tsps of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 drop of lemon or neroli essential oil. Massage into cuticles, leave for 20 minutes, then rinse.

2. Bath milk

Stir 4 tblsps of runny honey, plus five to six drops of neroli, rose or ylang-ylang essential oil, into bath water.

3. Face mask

Apply any one of these to your face then relax for 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water:

  • For normal skin: mix 2 tblsps of honey with 1 tblsp of extra-virgin olive oil, an egg yolk and a handful of fine oatmeal.
  • For dry skin: mix 2 tblsps of honey with 1 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil, 2 egg yolks and a mashed banana.
  • For oily skin: mix 2 tblsps of honey with 2 whisked egg whites, 1 tblsp of lemon juice and a handful of fine oatmeal.

4. Exfoliating scrub

Rub one of these onto your skin, then rinse with warm water.

  • For normal / oily skin: mix 1 tblsp honey with 2 tblsps ground almonds and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
  • For dry skin: mix 1 tblsp honey with 2 tblsps coarse sea salt and 1 tblsp olive oil.

5. Hair conditioner

Mix 2-3 tsps liquid honey into 1.5 pints / 5 cups of rinsing water. To enhance hair colour: add 1 tsp lemon juice for blonde hair; or 1 tsp vinegar for brunette.

Apply to hair after shampooing. No need to rinse, and the honey won't leave your hair sticky.

6. Cleanser

Dissolve 1 tsp of runny honey in 4 tblsps of warm water — or warm milk — to make a honey-water cleanser or cleansing milk. Gently smooth either of these over your face to loosen grime, then rinse well.

7. Toner

Peel and purée 5cm / 2in of cucumber, then mix with 1 tsp of runny honey. Apply to your face, leave on for five minutes and rinse off with cold water.

Honey bee on cosmos flower
Honey bee on cosmos flower
Credit: Douglas Bateman

Kitchen

8. Keep runny honey in a drip-free syrup dispenser.

9. If sweetening a hot drink, wait until it’s at a drinkable temperature before adding 1–3 tsps of honey.

10. Liquefy thick honey and make it easier to pour and mix. Stand a glass or a ceramic container of honey in hot (not boiling) water for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

11. Keep your honey in a dark place, or an opaque or dark glass jar. This preserves its antimicrobial power.

12. Freeze your honey and prevent natural crystallisation and changes in its composition. Learn how to freeze honey.

13. Coat your spoon or cup with vegetable oil when measuring your honey, so the honey can slip out easily.

14. Weighing honey: one tblsp honey weighs about 23g (or three quarters of an ounce). One standard measuring cup of honey (240ml / 8 fl oz) weighs about 350g / 12oz.

15. Less is more: use 165g honey for 220g of sugar plus one extra tblsp. This is equivalent to: 5oz for 7oz, or three quarters of a cup for a whole cup.

16. Turn down the oven by 20 degrees C / 25 degrees F when baking honey-containing cakes and biscuits, as they brown more easily.

Shopping for honey

17. Sweeter honeys are relatively richer in fructose and go well with cheese.

18. Mild honeys are better for delicately flavoured dishes and seafood.

19. Strongly flavoured honeys are good on bread, scones or pancakes, vanilla ice cream, and with savoury sauces and meats.

20. Acacia honey is good for sweetening drinks without giving a pronounced honey flavour.

21. Floral or nutty flavoured honeys suit many desserts.

A beekeeper inspects honeybees on frame from a hive
A beekeeper inspects honeybees on frame from a hive
Credit: Thinkstock

Cooking with honey

22. When cooking with honey, some of its flavour ingredients will be lost, so use an inexpensive one.

23. Steamed root vegetables are delicious with honey. Stir steamed carrots with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp honey, then sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

24. Roasted vegetables, such as parsnips, are always lovely, but drizzling them with 2 tbsp honey 10 minutes before the end of cooking makes them taste even better.

25. Honey and mustard dressing is a really versatile addition to salads. Whisk 180ml olive oil, 1-2 tbsp lemon joice, 1 tbsp mustard, 1 tbsp runny honey and a pinch of black pepper. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to one week.

26. Honeyed chicken

Ingredients: 60g butter; 2 tbsp honey; 4 garlic cloves, sliced; 4 organic chicken breasts on the bone and with their skin on; pinch of black pepper; 1 tbsp fresh parsley.

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180oC / 350oF / gas 4.
  • Stir butter and honey in saucepan, until the butter melts
  • Make little cuts through the chicken skin and insert a slice of garlic into each one.
  • Put the chicken into a roasting pan and brush with the butter-honey mixture.
  • Sprinkle with pepper. Roast the chicken in the oven for 40 minutes.
  • Serve garnished with the parsley.

27. Apples fried in honey and butter

Coxes and Egremont Russets are among the best dessert apples for this dish.

Ingredients: 50g butter; 25g brown sugar zest and juice of 1 large orange juice / half a lemon; 3 tbsp honey; 4 dessert apples.

Method:

  • Melt the butter in a frying pan.
  • Add the sugar, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and honey
  • Heat gently, stirring occasionally.
  • Peel, quarter and core the apples, then halve each piece lengthways.
  • Add the apples to the pan and cook gently for 10–15 minutes, turning them over every so often.
  • Serve hot with vanilla ice cream, double cream or crème fraîche.

Honey jars
Credit: iStock

Natural remedies

These suggestions should not replace any necessary medical diagnosis and therapy.

28. Acne: Apply honey, or manuka-honey cream, three times a day to kill acne bacteria and draw pus from acne spots.

29. Anaemia: Eat one tsp of honey three times a day. Ideally, choose dark honey as it’s richer in iron.

30. Arthritis: Eat one tsp of raw honey three times a day, including a tspful within the hour before bedtime. Massage honey into the skin over a painful joint – honey before bedtime can discourage inflammation and help protect collagen in joints.

31. Colds: Consume one to two tsps honey three times a day. Also, gargle with one tsp honey in half a glass of warm water, for honey's soothing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

32. Constipation: Consume one tsp of honey three times a day. Honey attracts water, making stools softer and easier to pass. Also, its acetylcholine stimulates bowel movement.

33. Cough: Take one to two tsps of raw honey three times a day. Honey’s antimicrobials, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants can help. Honey is said to loosen phlegm.

34 Eczema: Anecdotal evidence suggests that honey can help. Apply medical-grade honey cream. Consume one tsp of raw honey three times a day.

35. Fatigue: Consuming honey before, during and after aerobic exercise reduces post-exertion fatigue as its carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins aid recovery.

36. Fungal infection: Apply raw honey twice a day, covering with a dressing if necessary.

37. Gingivitis (inflamed gums) and tooth decay: Rub highly antioxidant honey into inflamed gums three times a day. Eat one tsp of antimicrobial-rich honey three times a day.

38. Hangover: Consume one tblsp of honey after drinking alcohol - honey's fructose speeds the liver's breakdown of alcohol.

39. Infection: Eat one to two tsps of raw or antimicrobial-rich honey three times a day - honey's antimicrobials help prevent intestinal infections, and reduce severity and length of colds.

40. Obesity: It’s a good idea to substitute honey for some or all of the sugar in your diet. Honey is sweeter and more characterful than sugar, so we use less.

Reproduced with kind permission from The Miracle of Honey, by Dr Penny Stanway (2013, Watkins Publishing)