Foodie Friday: Honey

Honey exhibit at NC State Fair, ca. 1950

Honey exhibit at NC State Fair, ca. 1950

As pollinators of several major crops and useful for their production of honey and wax, European honeybees have been a central feature in North Carolina farm life and folk culture for over three centuries. Following an increase in honey production in the 20th century, honey became a staple in rural cooking due to its benefits and abundance.

The North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA) has a long history of curating honey recipes and disseminating them to the public, whether it is through their website or their presence at public events such as the North Carolina State Fair. John D. Foust, former president of the NCSBA, accumulated hundreds of honey recipes from the 1950s to the 2000s. The following recipes are from the personal collection of John Foust found in the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association Records (MC 00617), held by the Libraries' Special Collections Research Center.  These recipes include materials from the National Honey Board, NC State Fair competitions, The American Honey Institute, and various websites and cookbooks.

Apple Sauce Cake:

½ cup butter

1 cup honey

1 cup apple sauce (from dried or fresh apples, thick)

2 ¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 egg

½ teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg (each)

¼ teaspoon cloves and salt (each)

1 cup seeded raisins

¼ cup nut meats

Cream butter and honey, add apple sauce and beaten egg. Sift flour with other dry ingredients, add raisins and nuts and add to first mixture. Beat well and bake about 1 hour in a moderately hot oven. This cake may be made several days before serving as the flour improves with age.

This cake recipe was found in a small recipe book from 1953 titled, “For Goodness Sake - Use Honey.” The title page of the book praises honey as a natural sugar alternative that provides quick energy, is easy on the stomach, adaptable in cooking, and has a long shelf-life.

Honeyed Sweet Potato Biscuits:

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup shortening

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

¾ cup sweet potatoes, baked until tender, peeling and mashed

¼ cup honey

½ cup milk

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add orange and lemon peels, sweet potatoes and honey; mix well. Add enough milk to make soft, but not sticky, dough. Turn out onto floured board and knead 3 to 4 times. Pat to 1-inch thickness and cut of 2 ¼ inch round. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.

 This pamphlet was distributed in 1995 to members of the Honey National Board, and it includes recipe favorites “from around the country.”

The Special Collections Research Center holds a variety of resources on beekeeping and honey production. For additional information on these topics, see the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Publications, North Carolina State Beekeepers Association Records and North Carolina State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Records. You can view these materials in person by filling out this form or visit the Collection Guides online for more information.