Who recalls the above 1976 rallying call from the Honey Monster? A bit of nonsense really as the Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal (now called Honey Monster Puffs) that it advertised is mostly sweetened by Glucose-fructose syrup and sugar. The honey content was increased by 20% in 2015 and now provides a grand total of 3.6% of the ingredients!
Honey itself, is a product that sits at the near back of my kitchen larder to be pulled out on an infrequent basis, usually as an alternative to be scraped across toast or to sweeten porridge, more often to ease a sore throat when added to tea. It is a messy product that needs to be stored with a little care and as such, can be a tad awkward to take out as a meal additive when backpacking. However, it is possible and I would argue that honey makes a very useful addition to the food plan devised for the trail.
Honey is sugar, there is no getting away from the fact, some 53% is fructose, some nutrition experts suggest a daily fructose intake of no more than 25g; a teaspoon containing some four grams. Per 100g, Honey provides around 329kcal.
But that is not all of the story. It is well known that honey is one of the few foods that does not spoil in its edible state. Its antiseptic properties inhibit the growth of bacteria, also, being a sugar, it is hygroscopic. Few bacteria and micro-organisms can exist in the resultant low moisture environment and slightly acidic pH that averages 3.9.
For those that carry a minimal first aid kit, honey can assist in that regard too. While it is not my own personal first port of call, many swear by the effectiveness of honey in treating ailments such as athletes foot and pain from arthritis. It is excellent as a natural treatment for cuts, grazes, burns and as an anti-inflammatory, reduces pain and swelling. The digestive system is also aided by the antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.
Some types of honey are more beneficial than others- there is the famed New Zealand Manuka, (the Manuka bush is a medicinal plant), Malaysia’s Tualang, Yemeni Sidr and European honeydew honey. All of these are noted for having higher anti-bacterial properties. Another thing that can be found in honey is Clostridium botulinum, however this is no threat to anyone above the age of twelve months.
While it is possible to decant honey into one of the lightweight squeeze pouches available for liquid foodstuffs, a bit of searching can reveal some already ideally packaged in such a manner that the likelihood of spillages is much reduced. One method I have successfully used is to mix honey with peanut butter, a simply stunning mix.
“The next morning we experienced our very first ‘full English breakfast,’ which consisted of tea, orange juice, cookies, oatmeal, granola, berries, bananas, croissants, grapes, pineapples, prunes, yogurt, five kinds of cold cereal, eggs, hash browns, back bacon, sausage, smoked salmon, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, toast, butter, jam, jelly, and honey. I don’t know how the British do it.”