I’ve chosen to write this because…
No.1- I love bees and why not?!
No.2 It is spring, the bees are coming out from their winter hiding and they will be collecting pollen from the first flowers of the year and this will go into their delicious honey, so I can use this opportunity to share the benefits of honey and which types you can buy- try them all. 🍯🍯😋😋
Firstly… what is honey made of?
We all know this thick, sticky delicious substance but what is it actually made from? 🍯
The main component is – nectar!
Nectar is a sugary liquid extracted from flowers using a bee’s long, tube-shaped tongue and stored in its extra stomach.
The nectar mixes with various enzymes (bee digestive enzymes hydrolyze, sucrose and a mixture of glucose and fructose) that breaks down other starches and proteins increasing the acidity and transforming its chemical composition and pH, making it more suitable for long-term storage within the hive.
That individual bee then passes the nectar onto another bee by regurgitating the liquid into the other bee’s mouth, this regurgitation process is repeated until the partially digested nectar is finally deposited into a honeycomb.Once in the comb, nectar is still a viscous liquid — nothing like the thick honey you use at the breakfast table and we know… to get all that water out of their honey, bees set to work fanning the honeycomb with their wings in an effort to speed up the process of evaporation.
Bees are some of the few insects that can generate large amounts of body heat, thus the hive bees constantly regulate the hive temperature, either heating with their bodies or cooling with water evaporation, to maintain a fairly constant temperature in the honey-storage areas around 35 °C (95 °F).
When most of the water has evaporated from the honeycomb, the bee seals the comb with a secretion of liquid from its abdomen, which eventually hardens into beeswax. Away from air and water, honey can be stored indefinitely, providing bees with the perfect food source for cold winter months.The process continues as bees constantly circulate air and evaporate water from the honey to a content around 18%, therefore raising the sugar concentration beyond the saturation point and preventing fermentation.
The bees then cap the cells with wax to seal the honey into the hive for later use.Honey’s colour, taste, aroma and texture vary greatly depending on the type of flowers the bee visits which is why there are so many wonderful honey’s out there.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides, fructose and glucose and has the same sweetness as sucrose (granulated sugar) which makes it a perfect substitute to sugar.
Benefits of honey.
Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories, 0.06 grams of protein, 17.25 grams of sugar, 17.3 grams of carbohydrates, one milligram of calcium, and 0.09 milligrams of iron. It contains virtually no fiber, fat or protein.
It is a great alternative to granulated sugar.
Honey is also deemed for the antioxidants it contains along its antibacterial properties- honey never goes off.Researchers say honey contains varying concentrations of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants which are thought to reduce the risk of a stroke, heart disease, and and possibly cancer. Polyphenols are also found in fruits, vegetables, tea, and olive oil. Honey may also help to lower blood pressure because of its antioxidant compounds – studies in both rats and humans have shown modest reductions in blood pressure from consuming honey. Interestingly, several studies also show that honey may also improve cholesterol levels.
Honey is can also be used for healing burns and wounds. Topical honey treatments have been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egyptian times and is still common today.In 2007, manuka honey was approved by the US FDA as an option for wound treatment because of its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, the honey maintains a moist wound environment and protective barrier, which prevents microbial infections getting into the wound.
Multiple studies have shown that manuka honey can enhance wound healing, amplify the regeneration of tissue and even decrease pain in patients suffering from burns
Honey can also reduce coughing in children especially with upper respiratory infections which severely affect their sleep and quality of life. One study found that honey worked better than two common cough medications and another study found that it reduced cough symptoms and improved sleep more than cough medication.
Forms of honey.
Before telling you about all the wonderful kinds of honey first I need explain what forms honey can come in.
1. Comb honey: Comb honey is raw pure honey sections taken straight from the hive – honey bees’ wax comb with no further handling at all. It is the most unprocessed form in which honey comes in.You can eat comb honey just like a chewy candy because the honey in the comb is untouched and is deemed to be pure, honey presented in this form comes with a a relatively higher price tag.
Before the invention of honey extracting device, honey was mostly produced in the form of comb honey. Today, very little honey is produced as comb honey.
2. Cream honey:
If you are one of those who complain that honey is messy to use (even in a squeezy plastic bottle) cream honey, which is also known as whipped honey, spun honey, granulated honey, or honey fondant, is an excellent alternative to the liquid honey we all know.
Cream honey does not drip like liquid honey, has a smooth consistency and can be spread like butter. It often looks solid and white/clear.
Honey is creamed by having one part finely granulated honey blended with nine parts liquid honey. The mixture is then placed in cool storage to promote rapid granulation and produce a small crystal structure that results in a smooth creamy texture. – hence creamed honey.
I have tried this and didn’t mind it but personally I love liquid honey, I love the fact that it is messy, sticky and delicious.
3. Liquid honey: now this is the honey we are all familiar with, this is the most common form of honey in most places, and thus most familiar to consumers.
Clear, liquid honey can be raw or pasteurised. It has been filtered (in varying extents depending on the honey supplier/packer) to remove fine particles, pollen grains, and air bubbles after being extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force or gravity and because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, its uses are diverse.
Types of honey.
Now for the bit I’ve been looking forward to writing… types of honey 😍😍😍
Most people think of honey as the natural sweetener sold on the supermarket shelf, a honey that is made from non- EU and EU honey’s. This honey is made by feeding the bees a sugary substance, and is purely mass manufactured without any opportunity given to the bees to truly forage and feed on the flowers around them resulting in an overly sweet bland honey with very little beneficial properties because as explained before the nectar is the founding property of a delicious and flavour some honey.
This is not the honey you want to be eating both because of the taste but also because the practices do not have the bees in mind, cause harm to the bees and most importantly don’t support local beekeepers.
It’s time to widen your honey horizons, let’s learn what the different types of honey are, these so many different kinds of honey in an array of different colours.
Below I’ve included the most common that you can find, there are of course so many more!
There are over 300 types of honey’s!
I’ll let you know which ones I’ve tried and my favourites in this list.
🍯Lavendar honey: (this one I’ve always wanted to try as I love lavender!)
🍯Wildflower honey: (another one I want to try).
🍯Heather honey: (I absolutely LOVE this one, it is a golden brown colour and tastes like caramel, Scottish heather honey is the best).
🍯Greek honey: (I used to go to Greece a lot while I was younger with my family and their honey is one of my all time favourites to eat. It is a dark brown colour and very fragrant due to the Mediterranean forage. It is so sweet but so deliciously fragrant. Greece has more bee hives “per acre” than any other country in Europe).
🍯Manuka honey: (this one you may recognise the name of as it is famous in the health remedy world. It is sold in most health shops and for a hefty price too. It’s produced by bees who pollinate the flower Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as the manuka bush. Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties are what set it apart from traditional honey. Methylglyoxal is its active ingredient and likely responsible for these antibacterial effects. Additionally, manuka honey has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits).
Sour wood honey
🍯Dandelion honey (definitely want to try this one it sounds interesting).
🍯Acacia honey: (I’ve tried this one. Its not one of my favourites but it is quite tasty. It is quite light, a bright- pale yellow colour, light and easy to eat with a hint of vanilla- it is lovely in herbal teas).
🍯Avocado honey (now as an avocado lover I definitely want to try this. With the rich taste of avocados i can imagine this honey would be delicious).
🍯Sunflower honey (I absolutely love sunflowers, I definitely want to try this honey. Sunflower honeys are quite rare because sunflowers bloom very late, at a time when no other flower sources of nectar and bees often fly away for some honeydew into nearby vegetation. It is a golden brown colour, is more fruity and acidic – not so sweet. It tends to rapid crystallization).
🍯Forest honey (Now this is a honey I definitely want to try! Forest honey is also known ashoneydew honey. Instead of gathering nectar from flowers, when making forest honey, bees collect honeydew from trees).
Orange blossom honey
Pine tree/pine and fir tree honey
Bass wood honey
Fire weed honey
Check out these links for more info:
PDFhttps://www.bjcp.org › floral_guide
Until next time.