You’ve worked with your bees all season long. It’s now time to harvest the honey, along with the comb. As you look at the gooey golden hexagonal structure, you wonder to yourself – how do you eat honeycomb?
There are many ways to eat honeycomb, ranging from fancy recipes to simply enjoying the honeycomb on its own, so let’s jump into it.
What is Honeycomb?
The honeycomb is more than the place bees store their honey. It’s also where they raise their brood. The bees produce beeswax by consuming honey. The wax is secreted by the abdominal glands. It flakes off their stomachs.
The bees then chew the wax and form it into the honeycomb, one piece at a time. The honeycomb has a hexagonal structure. It’s believed this is because of its structural integrity.
When honeycomb is used to store honey, the comb is created first. Then, it’s filled with honey. As each cell is filled, it’s capped with wax.
Is Honeycomb Healthy?
When you think about beeswax, its health benefits are likely the last thing that crosses your mind. You may know that it makes wonderful candles and even lip gloss. You may not know that it has nutritional value.
There are two components of honeycomb. These are raw honey and beeswax.
Raw honey has many health benefits. It is higher in antioxidants and glucose oxidase than processed honey. Glucose oxidase is what gives honey its antibacterial properties. Antioxidants have many protective effects on the body, including lower inflammation and a lower risk of certain cancers.
The beeswax which makes up the honeycomb structure also provides health benefits. It’s made up of long-chain fatty acids.
It’s been found to lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce infection risk. It can also protect the stomach from ulcers caused by taking NSAIDS like ibuprofen and naproxen.
Honey does contain sugar, but it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels as much as refined sugar. This means it may be a suitable substitute for diabetics when used in moderation.
Surprisingly, beeswax can reduce insulin resistance as well. More research is needed, but it may help diabetics manage their condition.
Plain and Simple
One of the best ways to eat honeycomb is also the simplest. Just cut off a chunk of the honeycomb and chew it. The honey will come out of the comb as you chew. Soon, the beeswax will turn into something similar to gum, with the honey itself extracted.
You can continue chewing, eventually swallowing the comb. You can also spit it out once it loses its honey flavor, and go for another piece.
Warm It Up
Another easy method is to add a slice of honeycomb to something warm, like toast. Waffles and pancakes are also great choices. Just cut a slice of the comb, and spread it on the dish as you would spread butter.
It offers a sweet flavor that can take the place of jelly or syrup. Best of all, beeswax helps balance the high carb content with a bit of healthy fat.
Honey pairs very well with cheese. You can create an elegant cheese platter, or simply make yourself an indulgent snack. Any cheese will taste great with honey, but some truly bring the pairing to the next level.
Generally, nutty or salty cheeses, including cheddar, are a great choice. Creamy cheeses like Brie are also very tasty. Other cheeses that pair well with honey include blue cheese, goat cheese, and sharp aged cheeses.
If you are making a cheese platter or Charcuterie board, choose different types of cheese to pair with the honey. Add chutney, crackers, toast, and cured meats for a stunning party tray.
If you simply fancy a snack, choose one or two of your favorite cheeses to try with your honeycomb.
Yes, honeycomb is indulgently sweet, but it can also be savory. It not only goes great with cheese. It’s also a great addition to your favorite sandwich. Pair cheese with tomato, avocado, and honeycomb. It’s an indulgent yet healthy treat that you are sure to love.
When adding honeycomb to a sandwich, slice it very thin. This will keep the amount of honeycomb small, while still giving you great flavor.
For a simpler sandwich perfect for a weekday lunch, add honeycomb to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. The honeycomb will transform this staple into something a bit more tasty and elegant.
You probably wouldn’t consider putting honey on your salad, but honeycomb makes a great addition. Pair it with your favorite greens and crumbled goat cheese. Just crumble the honeycomb into bite-sized pieces.
Sweet and Spicy Chilli
Sweet and spicy can go hand in hand. Make a hearty spicy bowl of chilli. Top a piece of honeycomb with sour cream, and place it into the bowl of chilli. As it warms, the sour cream and honey will begin to seep into the chilli, cooling the heat slightly.
Honeycomb in Beverages
Honeycomb is also excellent in beverages. There’s one caveat, however. When adding honeycomb to beverages, they shouldn’t be hotter than 107 degrees. Beyond this temperature, the honey will lose some of its health benefits. The honeycomb also becomes harder to digest at high temperatures.
Honeycomb can be used in hot tea. It takes the place of sugar, and the honeycomb will soften in the warm liquid. Some of the wax may dissolve into the tea, along with the honey itself.
You can also add it to hot chocolate. In this case, consider dipping the honeycomb in the hot chocolate and eating it, rather than placing it in the cup. Hot chocolate makes the liquid pretty saturated, so it’s harder for the honey to dissolve.
You’ll want to store honeycomb just as you would raw honey. Honeycomb will keep virtually forever when stored properly. Just keep it in an airtight container at room temperature. Tupperware containers or glass jars are both good options.
If you plan to store it for a long period of time, you can freeze it. Just cut the honeycomb into blocks. Wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap, or place it in an airtight container. Be careful with glass jars. Some types of glass can break when frozen. When you are ready to eat the honey, just let the honey thaw at room temperature.
Not everyone who loves honey is a fan of the comb. If beeswax just isn’t on your menu, it’s pretty simple to remove the raw honey from the comb.
To strain the honeycomb, you’ll first need to crush it. Cut it into pieces. You can then use a potato masher or fork to crush the comb. Once this is completed, place the honeycomb into a kitchen strainer with a bowl underneath.
After 24 hours, the comb will be strained from the honey. This does leave some small pieces of wax in the honey, but it removes any large pieces.
Risks of Eating Honeycomb
Honeycomb offers many health benefits. However, there are a few concerns you should be aware of. Do not feed honeycomb, or honey, to babies under 1 year old. Honey can contain toxins that can lead to botulism. Infants’ immune systems aren’t equipped to fight off the bacteria, so it can make them very ill.
The other risk of eating honeycomb is eating too much. Eating a large amount of honeycomb can cause intestinal blockage. The wax is not completely digested by the body. If you overwhelm your system with too much honeycomb, it can cause a blockage.
This is a very rare occurrence. How much beeswax would be required to do this isn’t known, but it’s more than the average person will consume in one sitting.
Final Thoughts on Eating Honeycomb
Honeycomb does require a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it. You can eat it plain as a simple snack. You can use it to liven up your sandwich, or even your tea.
Comb honey is honey in its natural state. Even raw honey that has been strained loses a slight amount of nutritional value because it absorbs moisture. For the healthiest honey possible, you can’t go wrong with eating straight from the comb.