Experts say bee populations have declined dramatically in the last decade. One threat is Colony Collapse Disorder, in which bees abruptly abandon their hives. Recently, millions of honeybees were killed as a side-effect of spraying pesticides to combat the spread of Zika virus in South Carolina.
These pollinators, who are essential to agriculture, need to have their numbers built back up, said Arik Bench of Bench’s Bees and Honey, who comes from an extended family of farmers. “People don’t realize how much our food supplies depend upon it.” While some plants can self-pollinate, the majority need assistance in transferring pollen to help with reproduction.
According to the San Francisco-based nonprofit Pollinator Partnership, pollinators help to produce one of every three bites of our food. One of the important ways consumers can help the bee population to thrive, the group says, is to support area beekeepers by purchasing local honey for eating, cooking, and baking.
On that note, here are four recipes you’ll want to add to your family cook’s “honey do” list.
Chipotle Honey Glazed Salmon is a simple entrée that seems very sophisticated. It’s short and sweet with a bit of heat and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.
Honeyed Nut and Pomegranate Pots are small parfaits with a base of wheat cereal and chopped pistachios that’s like a simplified version of beloved Greek pastries (but without all the work). This layer is topped with a cloud of whipped cream, for a dessert that’s sweet but not heavy.
Apple, Ricotta, and Honey Muffins with Sesame Seed Crunch are tender and moist, slightly sticky, and finger-licking good.
• Bench’s Bees and Honey sells its jars at Bench Farms, 9151 Jerusalem Rd., Curtice; Miller’s Market, 22361 W. Holt Harrigan Rd., Genoa; Smokey’s BBQ Roadhouse, 2080 Woodville Rd., Oregon; Fowl and Fodder, 7408 Central Ave.; and the Perrysburg Farmers’ Market, Indiana Ave. at Louisiana Ave., from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 13. A one-pound jar costs $7; a two-pound jar is $12.
Almond and Honey Butter Cookies are shortbread tidbits with a drop of honey in the center. Vary the flavor, from mild to robust, to suit your own tastes by choosing a light or dark variety.
Chipotle Honey Glazed Salmon
4 4-ounce salmon fillets with skin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons chipotle sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
Rice, for serving
Guacamole, for serving
Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Whisk together the honey and chipotle sauce.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the salmon skin side up for 2 minutes, then carefully flip it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium and brush the salmon with the honey glaze. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, brushing with more glaze, until salmon is just cooked through.
Serve salmon over rice, topped with a dollop of guacamole.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: Adapted from Marnely Murray, cookingwithbooks.net
Honeyed Nut and Pomegranate Pots
1/3 cup crushed mini shredded wheat biscuits
1 cup shelled roasted pistachios plus extra for garnish, chopped
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 cup whipping cream
1 5.3-ounce container vanilla Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
In a bowl, mix the shredded wheat with 1 cup pistachios, 1/3 cup honey, and the orange juice; divide between 8 dessert glasses.
Whip the cream until very softly whipped, then fold in the yogurt, remaining honey, and vanilla.
Divide this between the glasses, too. Chill for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.
Before serving, top with pomegranate seeds and more pistachios.
Yield: 8 servings
Source: Adapted from Cassie Best, bbcgoodfood.com
Apple, Ricotta, and Honey Muffins with Sesame Seed Crunch
4 1/2 ounces flour
4 1/2 ounces white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 medium-size crisp apples, peeled, cored, grated
5 1/2 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup raisins, light or dark
3 tablespoons honey
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 1/2 ounces apple juice
4 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 ounces sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Put the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a mixing bowl and combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, apples, ricotta, raisins, and 3 tablespoons honey. Add the wet mix to the dry mix; stir in the butter and juice.
Mix the remaining honey and the sesame seeds together.
Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared tin, then spoon about a teaspoon of the sesame crunch over the center of each muffin (it will spread a bit). Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin.
Yield: 12 muffins
Source: Adapted from Dan Doherty, Toast Hash Roast Mash
Almond and Honey Butter Cookies
1 cup whole almonds
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup honey, divided
1/3 cup oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature, divided
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Finely grind the almonds in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, baking powder, and salt; stir until just combined. Beat 2/3 cup honey, oil, and 3 tablespoons butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add egg and vanilla; beat until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir to combine. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Press the tip of your index finger in the center of each cookie to make a deep indentation. Bake the cookies until they are set and golden on the bottom, 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 30 minutes.
Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup honey, 1 tablespoon butter, and powdered sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop about 1/4 teaspoon into the indentation in each cookie; let set for one hour. Store in a single layer.
Yield: About 6 1/2 dozen cookies
Source: Adapted from eatingwell.com