Honey has been known for thousands of years to be a healing agent as well as a foodstuff but what exactly is it and how can it be used? How effective is it? And is there a difference between organic raw honey and traditional honey found on supermarket shelves?
Both the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks were aware of the properties of honey, indeed, the Ancient Egyptians farmed bees in order to collect the honey. Both civilizations knew of its anti-bacterial properties and used honey to treat wounds.
What is Honey?
Honey is manufactured by bees from the nectar which they collect from flowers. The nectar (the liquid found in the base of flowers) is concentrated down and placed in the individual hexagonally shaped comb cells which the bees then cap with beeswax. Many thousands of plants are needed to supply enough nectar to fill the honeycomb.
We recently visited Hillside Honey Apiary where we had a lovely visit and an peek at the production of organic raw honey. It’s a fascinating process from hive to bottle and the end result is absolutely delicious!
Types of Honey
Honey in the comb is known as raw honey. Most honeys are processed before being sold commercially. Traditional forms are liquid honey and cream honey.
Liquid honey has been purified to get rid of the tiny particles of wax and insect parts which may be present in raw honey and heated to dissolve any sugar crystals. This is the most common type and is used in cooking as well as a sweetener or syrup for waffles and pancakes.
Cream honey is more solid and does not drip. It has a smooth consistency as the crystallization process which it undergoes, has been carefully controlled.
The color of honey varies from a light cream to a dark brown depending on the flowers from which the bees have collected the nectar. Acacia honey is much lighter in color than chestnut honey. Generally, the darker the honey, the stronger the flavor.
The flavor of honey is influenced by the flowers available to the bees. Because bees do not travel far from their hive, beekeepers can place the hives in specific spots to ensure a particular type of honey, for example, the heather moorlands of Scotland or the wild growing manuka bushes in New Zealand.
Honey and Cooking
Because honey absorbs moisture, cakes made with it stay moist for longer. And because it is sweeter than sugar, not as much of it is required to sweeten the mixture.
Honey can be used in savory dishes as well, for example, to marinate chicken or pork. It goes well with dairy products such as yogurt or cheese and is delicious over ice-cream. We have a delicious Wild Blueberry Honey Breakfast Bread on Rural Mom. If you’re a honey lover, you’ll truly enjoy this treat!
Honey and Healing
Honey has been known for many thousands of years as a treatment for wounds and for infection. Indeed, up until the advent of antibiotics in the latter half of the twentieth century, honey was a common treatment for sore throats and stomach problems, respiratory ailments and sores.
In recent years, however, new research in New Zealand into the possible antibacterial effects of using manuka honey for treating burns and wound infections has sparked an added interest into the healing properties of this natural product.
It seems that the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks were right all along when they used honey to treat their wounds!
Organic Raw Honey Vs traditional Honey
Whether you are a health enthusiast who only buys natural, organic products, or are simply looking for healthier alternatives for sugar, one of the many questions you may have is: “what is the difference between organic raw honey and traditional honey?”
Of course organic raw honey is pricier, but the higher price does come with a number of benefits which honey does not contain. So, is it really worth investing in organic, or “real” honey? In short, the answer is “yes”.
Honey which isn’t raw organic honey, isn’t nearly as healthy as the organic variety. Traditional honey products which aren’t labeled as organic contain little to no pollen. Pollen is the desirable super ingredient which is praised for its weight control, anti-aging, beauty, and healing properties.
In traditional honey that you find on the grocery shelf, the main ingredient may actually be high fructose syrup. These sugars have often been linked to obesity or being overweight due to high levels of unnatural sugars, they can lead to plaque build up in the arteries, and are also attributed to narrowing of the blood vessels in the body over time as well.
Difference between Organic Raw Honey and traditional Honey
Organic raw honey does not remove any of the pollen during the production process, or use any chemicals in the hives. The bees gather from organic plants which the area must be certified organic to be labeled so.
This means you keep those anti-aging, inflammatory, weight loss, and natural properties which aren’t found in the other graded varieties. In addition to this, all vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes are intact in these organic products. They also contain anti-fungal and viral properties, contain the powerful antioxidants which the body needs, and can help with several health benefits (including allergy reduction, natural skin healing, wound healing, etc).
The organic varieties are also linked in studies which individuals that consume the honey have reduced blood pressure levels, and reduced levels of cholesterol when used as a part of a healthy diet. Further, it helps naturally boost immune functions, helps with digestion, and works to naturally increase serotonin levels in the system, which give the body that “good” feeling or vibe.
Although you might think honey is a better alternative to sugar based or artificial sweeteners, it is important to note that not all honey products are created equally.
If you are considering lower priced alternatives, skip them. Although you will pay a little more for organic raw honey, it is well worth the investment for the added health benefits.