Discovering the Sweet Wonders of Honey: A Guide to Selecting Honey Varieties
In today’s world, honey is not just a sweet treat. It’s an effective remedy for soothing throat pain, combating colds, bronchitis, coughs, rheumatic pains, and more. Honey is also actively used in cosmetology, included in masks, skin pads, and anti-cellulite wraps. With the range of honey varieties produced by beekeepers, each type is unique in taste, color, odor, consistency, sweetness, and crystallization rate. But when it comes to choosing honey, how do you know which type is best for your needs?
Understanding Honey Types: Categories to Consider
Natural honey can generally be classified as floral, honeydew, or mixed. It’s only possible to determine with precision whether honey belongs to one of these three types in specialized laboratories.
Floral honey is a product made by bees from a combination of pollen and nectar from various flowering plants. The collection of floral honey by bees begins in May and continues until the middle of September.
Honeydew honey is produced when insects gather sweet substances like melaza or honeydew. Melaza is secreted by tree and shrub cells as a resinous sweet substance, while honeydew is a dense liquid produced by aphids and other insects feeding on plant juices.
Although honeydew honey is highly valued, it’s not suitable as a winter feed for bees.
Mixed honey comes from both flower nectar and honeydew.
Variety by Terrain
Common and affordable, field honey is a type of polyfloral honey mainly collected in steppes and forests. It is characterized by a delightful aroma of wild herbs.
Meadow (or Steppe) Honey
Extracted from low and alpine meadow plants, meadow honey is valued more highly because it is harder to collect.
Forest honey is gathered by bees from their natural forest habitat. It features a dark amber color with a naturally mildly sweet taste, a dense texture, and an incredibly intense berry aroma. Forest honey is harvested once a year, in autumn.
The source of mountain honey is the flowers growing in mountainous areas. It’s notable for its quick crystallization rate, shifting from thick and liquid to solid very swiftly.
Produced by wild bees with minimal human intervention, wild honey is extracted once a season from the comb and is known for its subtle spiced aroma and dark brown color.
By Bee Plants
Dark yellow with reddish undertones, buckwheat honey has a peculiar aroma and specific taste. Upon crystallization, it turns into a pasty mass and is recommended for treating anemia.
With a transparent light yellow or greenish color, linden honey is known for its diaphoretic properties and is helpful in treating colds and upper respiratory diseases.
… and the list goes on with various types of honey based on the plant source, from acacia to lavender, each with its distinct color, flavor, and health benefits.
The crystallization of honey is a natural process that doesn’t alter its valuable qualities. Honey can be found in liquid, thick, or crystallized form.
Freshly harvested honey is liquid, and its viscosity depends on its water content, types of sugars present, and the ambient air temperature.
Thick honey contains up to 20% liquid and abundant glucose.
Crystallized honey can have coarse or fine grains, depending on the size of the sugar crystals.
Honey comes in various forms, such as comb honey, centrifuged honey, and pressed honey, each having its specific method of extraction from the hive.
The Beneficial Properties of Honey
Packed with a plethora of vitamins like provitamin A, the B-complex, and vitamins C, E, and K, along with trace elements like magnesium and potassium, honey boasts numerous health benefits:
- Boosting the body’s immunity
- Speeding up recovery from viral and bacterial infections
- Improving digestion and helping to avoid gastrointestinal disturbances
- Strengthening bone tissue
- Being beneficial for the heart and blood vessels by increasing vascular wall elasticity
- Helping to prevent anemia
Whether you’re looking for a natural sweetener or a home remedy for common ailments, understanding the various types of honey and their unique properties can guide you to the perfect jar.