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How is honey made?

Bees prepare honey from nectar which they collect from flowers and blossom of trees. They use it, as well as pollen, as food for their young. Honey is a mix of natural sugars (80%), water (18%) and minerals, vitamins, pollen, protein and amino acids (2%). Around 70% of honey's natural sugar content is made up of fructose and glucose

Varieties of Honey

Liquid or set?

Around 70% of honey's natural sugar content is made up of fructose and glucose. Clear and set honeys can be compared to ice and water - two different forms of the same thing. The more glucose a honey contains, the more likely it is to crystallize and therefore become a set honey. All honey starts off as liquid but will set eventually. The speed at which this will happen depends on the sugars they contain and the temperature at which they are kept. Both types are equally pure and contain no additives and there is no difference in the taste or nutritional value of these two states.

Is it true that honey is heated?

Heat is almost always necessary to liquefy honey in order to filter it and actually get it into the jar.  Mild heating does not damage the natural enzymes or nutrients (bees maintain a constant 94 degrees inside the hive). This is particularly important with set honey which has a naturally high glucose content.

Does heating destroy the natural flavor of honey?

Quick and/or gentle heating does not destroy the natural flavor of the honey. Nothing is ever added or taken away from honey

Health Benefits

Honey has long been recognized as a natural remedy and has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. It has antiseptic properties and can be used as a remedy for ailments from sore throats to burns and cuts. For a soothing drink for sore throats, mix honey with the juice of half a lemon, add boiling water and stir. If you’re feeling low, try a spoonful of honey as a pick-me-up. The fructose and glucose in honey are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Honey in Cooking

You can use honey in cooking instead of sugar. Because it is sweeter than sugar, you need to use less. The first thing to consider when using honey to cook with is that it is judged to be twice (2 X) as sweet as sugar. Therefore, to get the same sweetness as sugar, you use one half as much as you would of sugar. Honey is about 18% water. If you round that off to 20% you can easily figure that about 1/5th of the honey you add to your recipe is water. Therefore, you cut back on the moisture in your recipe by 20% (1/5th). Honey is hydroscopic (meaning it attracts water) so it is good for baking cakes as it keeps them moist for longer. Look on our recipe pages for some delicious recipes using honey.

History and Heritage

The word ‘honey’ comes from the Germanic word ‘hunaga’ which means golden. Flowering plants which produced pollen and nectar had evolved by the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago, but the bee did not appear until 100 million years later in Asia. To put this into perspective, man has only existed for one or two million years. Thousands of years ago honey was a source of food in times of famine but was mainly regarded as a medicine, with almost religious or magical significance. Honey was the only available source of sugar in countries where it was made. By the time of the Roman Empire, honey production and beekeeping were well established.

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