Honey is a viscous, sweet food product made by bees and other insects from the floral nectar; widely used by people in gastronomy as well as the health industry for thousands of years.
Honey wouldn’t exist if there were no bees. For the cooking industry that would be a huge loss, both, economically and qualitatively. However, the importance of bees in the world is far bigger than just honey production. They are responsible for pollination hundreds of different species of plants, including fruits, crops and flowers. These are used by many other industries as well as being a part of the food chain, together with bees.
Fewer bees mean less pollination, which results in less honey and fewer plants. Fewer plants, on the other hand, will have an effect in decline in the number of animals. The consequence is more expensive food because of reduced accessibility and usage of alternative methods of fertilisation.
According to historians, honey was used by people already, thousands of years ago, and is appreciated for its unique, amazing taste and its therapeutic properties ever since. Current research confirms its positive influence in wound and flu treatment because of its antiseptic and antibacterial features and high content of vitamins and minerals It also helps to maintain blood sugar levels, nourishes skin and helps in weight loss as it is a healthier substitute for traditional white sugar.
Colour, taste, price and health benefits of honey depend on the type of the flower that it was made of as well as a production process that it was put through. Unfortunately the most popular and available in the shops is the pasteurized. This type of honey has limited or none of the properties of the natural, raw version. Nowadays we can recognize tens of different kinds of honey but only a few of them are widely sold commercially. Underneath are a few of them with a short description.
Acacia – has a mild flavour, doesn’t crystallize and has a very pale amber colour. Used in the treatment of digestive system conditions. Helps with insomnia and is high in fructose – suitable for diabetics.
Avocado – is darker in colour and has a rich, buttery taste. Avocado honey is most commonly used in dressings and sauces.
Basswood – has a watery white colour with green shades, biting, spicy taste. Used in the treatment of cold, flu, cough and fever. Recommended in urinary tracts infections.
Blueberry – is not a honey with blueberries added. It is actually made from blueberry flowers. It has an amber colour, a full flavour and is great for making sauces and baking.
Buckwheat – is dark brown with a strong, distinct flavour. It is best used in making barbecue sauce and in baking. Helps with circulation system diseases. Speeds up, as well the rebuilding process of fractured bones.
Clover – by most people is thought of as common, table honey. Its colour is white amber, it has a delicate taste. Great to eat unprocessed with a chunk of fresh bread. Works well with gastric problems
Heather – is one of the best of the runny honeys, has dark amber colour. Has a very specific, jelly-like consistency. Supports immune system of the human body.
Honeydew – is sometimes called bug honey. It is one of the most exotic, unique honeys available. Often it is very expensive. Colour may vary regarding the prime ingredient. Thick and rich in flavour. Goes well with cheeses or as a dressing for salads. It has very high content of minerals and strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Manuka – It is produced primarily in New Zealand. Has very strong, sharp flavour and smell. Commonly used in skin infections.
Orange Blossom – can be pure or mixed with nectar from other nearby citrus flowers, like lemon and lime. It is often used to bake cakes and cookies.
Multi floral – it is a blend of many different sorts of honeys, created by manufacturers to intensify their positive effects. Widely used in kitchens and households as a table honey. Its features differ depending on the blend.
As you can see honey can be used for consumption as well as a natural medicine, helping with many conditions. Unfortunately, because of rising pollution and increased usage of pesticides also honey has become contaminated. Samples checked all over the world indicate that the most serious examples are in North America, Asia and Europe.
To limit exposure to risk factors buy the best quality products from your local farms and suppliers or health shops. Determine whether honey is unpasteurized – invest only in the raw, to gain all the benefits.
The number of bees is dropping drastically. Their importance in nature is indescribable; the world without bees would be a totally different place. I think we should all make an effort and be more conscious to protect them and their natural habitat to preserve the environment that we know for the future generations. Life without honey would suck!
For some good quality, raw honey you can visitphoto: Jonn/Johner Images/Corbis