December 01, 2017

Honey is one of our most popular – and oldest – ingredients. Cultivated for thousands of years, it is not only incredibly moreish but much more than just a treat for your sweet tooth.

Amongst the many benefits of honey, it is:

  • Anti-bacterial and antiseptic, with plenty of friendly bacteria to promote a state of wellness.
  • Used commonly in natural remedies, and as a popular way to treat colds and congestion.
  • A handy (and healthy) alternative to table sugar.

Honey has an almost limitless shelf-life when stored properly, making it economical as well as tasty. Honey bees play a pivotal role in its production, and as the bee population continues to be threatened by pesticides and disease, honey is suddenly in the spotlight – with a new wave of producers seeking to preserve this fantastic kitchen staple.

In addition to supermarket brands of the sweet stuff, artisan producers are growing in numbers, and thousands of hobbyist and professional beekeepers are trying their hand at creating new and exciting varieties of all natural raw honey.

A Brief History of Honey

Rock paintings dating back around 8000 years depict honey harvesting, though not in the modern way we view the process today. The days of risking bee stings are long gone, replaced with controlled and mindful beekeeping.

Whether used for eating, bathing or for its medicinal properties, honey has been used all over the world for aeons. Ancient Egyptians were sometimes buried with honeycombs, and archaeologists have discovered the preserved honey is still edible!

The Romans used honey to help heal wounds after a battle, and in Medieval England, mead was the drink of choice, otherwise known as honey wine. In an era of convenience, it’s hard to imagine how valuable a natural resource honey was regarded by our ancestors, though new interest in slower processes of food production is breathing life into unprocessed and unrefined honey’s popularity, with healthy pure honey once more making its way onto dinner tables everywhere.

How Natural Honey is Made

Honey begins life as flower nectar. After being collected by bees, it is broken down into sugar within a honeycomb, before evaporating into liquid thanks to the helpful bees’ persistent wing movements. Beekeepers source honey by scraping off the wax enclosure bees create to keep the honey stored.

Following extraction, the honey is strained and ready to sell. The taste and colour of honey can vary dramatically depending on the kind of nectar the bees have collected, producing plenty of different flavour profiles for honey connoisseurs to enjoy!

Different Types of Honey

The profound variety of the types of honey available is not limited simply to flavour. Whilst honey is undeniably healthy, the processes used as it is bottled and makes its way to your kitchen cupboard can have a dramatic effect on the true nutritional value and authenticity of the honey you consume. Whether found on a supermarket shelf or at your local farmers market, not all honey is created equal.

  • Mass-Produced Honey: Whilst still certainly tasty and healthier than your standard sugary treat, the honey you most commonly find lining supermarket shelves is, unless stated otherwise, sourced from many different locations. This results in a generic honey product wherein variance in taste and texture is lost, and replaced with a more overt and simplistic sweetness. This is because honey carries the distinct taste reflecting the landscape of flora and fauna which surrounds its source hive – and when mixed together from wildly differing sources, they all lose their uniqueness. However, it’s not all bad news. Honey in this state still retains some of its vitamins, including Vitamin C, and vital minerals like calcium and iron.
  • Raw Honey: In contrast to its mass-produced counterpart, raw honey is an immunity-boosting superfood, packed full of marvellous antioxidants and nutrients perfect for helping to maintain a healthy body. It bypasses much of the production process honey goes through, as it is taken from honeycombs and poured into its jar or container with minimal additional steps. Most crucially, unlike many other honey varieties, it isn’t heated to pasteurize, but traditionally strained to ensure any remaining beeswax isn’t bottled with it.
  • Organic Honey: Organic standards differ from country to country, and organic honey adheres to these standards, ensuring all honey-producing hives are chemical-free. In the UK, the Soil Association dictates which products can hold the ‘organic’ label. In addition, all flowers involved in the process must also be chemical free - and the bees must be free from antibiotics to ensure an 100% natural product.
  • Artisan Honey: This is the crème de la crème of honey. Cultivated by talented and knowledgeable bee-keepers in the best natural surroundings possible, artisan honey is a truly mindful alternative to mass-produced varieties. Organic and raw as standard, this is honey which can turbocharge health as well as provide a delicious and unique taste relative to its production area. English honey is leading the way in the creation of artisan honey, with hundreds of beekeepers across the UK dedicated to helping stem the tide of the declining bee population by working with bee-friendly methods, to continue creating the most delicious – and nutritious – honey on the market.

Choosing the Right Honey to buy online

 


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You may have guessed, we LOVE (are obsessed) with fine foods and all things gourmet; other than sleeping and running a small artisan business, this is about all we do! We really appreciate you taking the time to read our blog today. Please leave your feedback and tell us which organic food recipes, health tips or gifts ideas you like to hear more about...


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