The Buzz on Honey!
HONEY. You may think of it as the ingredient in your favourite baking recipe, something drizzled over your morning cereal, or dissolved into your cup of chamomile tea. But there’s a lot more to honey than meets the eye – its uses extend into skin and haircare, the alleviation of local allergies, and even as a dressing for wounds and burns. To complicate things even more, not all honey is created equal – your choices can include honeys labelled as raw, unpasteurised, creamed, liquid or any combination of these.
LET'S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE FASCINATING TOPIC OF
HONEY AND ALL THERE IS TO LOVE ABOUT IT!
Equally coveted by bees and humans, honey is produced from the nectar of flowers and stored up by the hardworking honeybee as their food for the cold winter months. Excess amounts can be harvested for human consumption, with enough left behind so the bees won’t starve during the winter dormancy period. You may be surprised to learn that every flower will result in the production of a unique honey, influencing the flavour, colour and consistency.
The most popular floral source of Canadian Honey is the Clover Blossom, followed by Buckwheat and Blueberry.
Often large honey producers will purchase as much honey from as many sources as possible and blend it together in a final mixture containing many different floral origins. However, certain specialty honey farms choose to keep the floral blossom honeys separate to allow customers the chance to experience the full range in flavour. Popular Canadian varieties may even be complimented with international favourites from places such as New Zealand and Australia. It can be quite a rewarding culinary experience to taste unique honey flavours and decide on your own favourite!
When it comes to terminology – look for Raw and/or Unpasteurized Honey which denotes minimal heating and processing to ensure the enzymes and nutrients remain intact. The only time pasteurized honey is desirable is when it is being fed to children under the age of 2 or to pregnant women.
EVER WONDER WHAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIQUID AND CREAMED HONEY IS?
Although all honey will eventually crystallize (aka freeze) at room temperature, in the case of creamed honey this has already been done in a controlled environment to ensure a smooth, desirable consistency. Should your liquid honey begin to form coarse crystals, rest assured this is a normal process and a sign the honey is pure. To reverse the crystallization, simply place the jar of honey in a warm water bath and gently heat until crystals disappear.
DID YOU KNOW HONEY IS THE ONLY PERFECT FOOD WHICH HAS NO EXPIRY DATE SO LONG AS IT IS STORED WITH A SECURE LID?
Now that’s something worth buzzing about!
Now that we’ve explored some of the most important considerations in choosing your honey – let’s not forget to mention the benefits of local honey. It has been shown that trace amounts of pollen in local honey can help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies. For maximum benefit, look for raw honey produced as close to your home as possible and begin intake well before allergy season arrives.
For the best selection of raw, unpasteurised
honey in the Okanagan, visit
Planet Bee Honey Farm in Vernon B.C.
– open daily, year round.