Sugar Sugar, Honey Honey: Honey-Curing at Nolechek's
For millions of years, honey has been revered for its medicinal and nutritional value around the world. But if you want to find some of the finest honey, look for it in Wisconsin. The Badger State is reputed to produce some of the best honey in the world and we agree. After all, our state insect is the honeybee!
Why is Wisconsin artisanal honey the best? It begins with both agriculture and our forests. Wisconsin is home to 64,793 farms and 16 million acres of forest. That means we have thousands upon thousands of acres of alfalfa (thanks, farmers!), not to mention a huge quantity of basswood trees and clover – all staples of a quality bee diet. That's why we source our honey locally, from Danny Honey Farms in Greenwood, Wisconsin, where Danny and his wife Toni have been keeping bees since 2014. It is seriously like no honey you've ever had; you can taste the flowers that the bees visited and, because it’s raw honey, it has a creamy, buttery consistency unlike most honey you get at the store.
We love honey not only for its earthy-sweet flavor, but also for its versatility. Yes, it's great for dipping chicken nuggets in, but it can do so much more! It's a healthy substitute for sugar because it's sweeter, so you'll use less of it. Plus, it's lower on the glycemic index which can help lower blood sugar levels and assist with weight loss. Read on for different - and surprising - ways you can substitute honey for sugar!
Baking Tip: To create baked goods with a hint of honey, try substituting honey for sugar in your next recipe. Just remember to use less honey (remember? It's sweeter than sugar). You'll also want to reduce liquids by 1/4 and add a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of honey. Also, lower your baking temperature by around 25°F for the sweetest of results.
How do we use honey at Nolechek’s? We take Danny Farm’s Raw Honey and make it part of the cure recipe for our amazing hickory smoked bacon. Incorporating honey in our bacon cure recipe means that not only does it make our bacon taste great, but it allows us to use a little less sugar. We also love being able to spread the Wisconsin love even more by including another terrific product from our Midwestern home state. Good food comes from Wisconsin!
Our own Lindsey (Nolechek) makes the trips to Danny Bravener's Danny Farms to pick up 60-pound pails of pure, unfiltered honey. Located northeast of Greenwood, Wisconsin, Danny's home is surrounded by beautiful farmland, wildflowers, and sky that seems to go on for days. Danny began Danny Honey Farms, LLC, in 2014, when he was inspired by the crabapple tree in the middle of their flower gardens.
Danny shared with us that was always amazed at how the honeybees came every year to pollinate the blossoms and how peaceful it was watching them work. Today he keeps approximately 200 hives, which at their maximum capacity can hold 40,000 bees. His hives are located in 12 private yards around Clark County, including the Willard and Loyal areas, and as far south as Christie, Wisconsin. He said his honey yield might be down for 2021 because of the later freeze earlier this year, but his “hobby” will keep him “buzzy”, regardless. He offers his honey in bulk, but it’s also available through retailers in the area in smaller portions. Danny is also a member of the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association.
It's been said that honey is the only food that lasts forever. Well, we hope to be around and using this sweet taste of home in our generations-old recipes for a great many years to come! You can order our honey-cured finest here and see what a difference a little natural sweetness makes!