While most of America enjoys sugar from sugarcane or beets, in Europe and much of the world honey is the favorite sweetener. Typical honey is 38.2% fructose, 31.3% glucose, 7.1% maltose, 1.3% sucrose with other sugars accounting for some 1.5% of the honey. Most honey is actually 17.2% water, and may have 3.4% “other” ingredients that may, in raw and unfiltered honey, include pollen, dust, and other sources of nutrition. Sugar from sugarcane or beets is typically almost entirely sucrose.
While there is typically no difference in taste between sugar beets and sugarcane, honey will have (because of the 3.4% “other” ingredients) a unique flavor depending on where it was made, by what bees it was made (some bees are better at making honey), and the subtle craft of the beekeeper or honey presser.
Honey was the only choice of sugar for Europeans a long time before they discovered sugarcane or developed the sugarbeet. Many traditional sweets from Europe rely on honey, instead of sugar. Here’s a nifty recipe for those of us used to sugar cookies… Honey cookies (a recipe from Germany)!
2 cups honey (may need to add water if honey is dry) 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening 4 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for more authentic German flavor, use almond extract)
1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt together shortening and honey. Let cool.
2. Mix together eggs, vanilla, baking soda and ginger. Gradually add to cooled honey mixture.
3. Slowly add 4 cups of flour to mixture. Stir until well blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) until golden (about 12-15 minutes).