If you've ever checked out the farmers' markets in the United States, you might have noticed the many different kinds of honey for sale. To put a number, there are over 300 varieties to choose from! Honey's flavor and color come from various factors. But, the primary distinction between each type is the type of flower it comes from. That's why honey is typically named after the source of its nectar.
While most pasteurized honey tastes the same, it's a good idea to seek out raw, unfiltered honey. Besides, this is the best way to savor its authentic flavor and enjoy its health benefits while avoiding the risk of buying counterfeit honey. Keep in mind that high-quality honey will naturally crystallize over time. However, this doesn't mean it's gone bad; you can easily de-crystallize it to continue using it.
Did You Know This About Honey And The Bees?
For over 6,000 years, honey has been a primary source of sweetness for people worldwide. The earliest recorded mention of honey can be found in inscriptions on a Sumerian tablet dating back to 2100-2000 BC. Here, it was noted for both its medicinal and topical uses.
Further, honey is the product of six to eleven bee species out of the roughly 20,000 known species. Typically, bees, with Apis mellifera being the most common, gather nectar from flowers and mix it multiple times with their salivary enzymes, diastase, and invertase, within their honey sacs. This floral nectar undergoes a chemical transformation into honey through enzymatic breakdown. This will convert complex sugars into glucose and fructose while removing excess water.
Indeed, nectar and honey differ primarily in their chemical compositions. Nectar comprises an aqueous solution of sugars, amino acids, proteins, lipids, minerals, and other components. On the contrary, honey is a more refined and nutrient-rich product.
Some More Interesting Facts
- Honey stands as the sole food that never spoils, thanks to its low moisture levels. Besides, bacteria can't thrive in an environment with such intense osmotic pressure.
- However, honey collected before it's fully matured carries a bit more moisture and could potentially spoil.
- Honey has a hygroscopic nature, meaning it draws in moisture from the air unless it's kept in an airtight container.
- Honey comes in two main types. One is unifloral. It originates from a single flower type. The other is multifloral, which is a blend of multiple flower species. Additionally, the chemical compositions of these categories vary accordingly.
Honey Types | what’s So Special about Them
Tupelo Honey, often referred to as the "Southern Gold," is among the finest honey varieties available. It's sourced from the swamps of the Southeastern United States and goes for sale to honey lovers. Further, this typically boasts a light golden or amber hue with a light greenish tint and a mild, distinctive flavor.
Tupelo honey stands out for its remarkable sweetness due to its high fructose content. It possesses the unique quality of not crystallizing like most other honey types. Smiley Honey has been the “Tupelo Kings” and the foremost producer of Tupelo Honey.
Blueberry Honey, found in New England and Michigan, ranges in color from light to dark amber. This comes from the nectar of blueberry blossoms, and it has a thick consistency and a pleasant scent. Moreover, its taste is:
- Slightly fruity
- With a buttery finish
- Along with a subtle tanginess reminiscent of blueberries
In the kitchen, it's an excellent choice for spreading on biscuits and toast, and it pairs wonderfully with blue cheese. Also, blueberry honey makes a perfect sweetener for enhancing the flavor of granola or adding a touch of sweetness to yogurt and fresh fruits.
Moreover, blueberry honey is valued for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which help combat harmful bacteria. It also strengthens the immune system and protects against colds and the flu.
Acacia Honey, sourced from the blossoms of the Black Locust in North America and Europe, has a light and transparent appearance. It displays a pure, slightly floral taste. With a higher fructose-to-sucrose ratio, this honey tends to maintain its liquid gold consistency for an extended period. Due to its low sucrose content, Acacia Honey is a suitable choice for individuals with diabetes. Besides, it avoids the high glucose levels that are often present in other types of honey.
Beyond its taste and texture, Acacia Honey has amazing therapeutic benefits. It:
- Supports liver cleansing
- Aids in intestinal regulation
- Possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Blackberry Honey is well-known in Europe and thrives in regions like California and Florida in the United States. Because that’s where blackberry bushes flourish! It's sometimes referred to as "bramble honey" as it's derived from the nectar of wild blackberry bushes rather than cultivated ones. Also, this gives a deep and robust flavor that combines fruity, crisp sweetness with a subtle berry tang. It:
- Falls within the medium to dark amber spectrum
- Presents a smooth texture
- Has a thick, viscous appearance
Notably, blackberries are rich in antioxidants, a trait that carries over to blackberry honey. Moreover, it contains added vitamins that contribute to its antibacterial properties, offering a boost in fighting off harmful bacteria.
Sourwood Honey is crafted in the Appalachian Mountains, spanning from Southern Pennsylvania to Northern Georgia. This premium honey has an amber hue and offers a buttery yet caramel flavor with a light hint of anise in its aroma. It's an ideal choice for enjoying as is, layering on toast, or perfecting freshly baked treats.
Similar to other types of honey, Sourwood Honey possesses antibacterial properties. Additionally, it contributes to overall well-being by acting as an antioxidant and is thought to provide relief from allergies.
Wildflower Honey comes from the nectar of various unspecified flowers found worldwide. It's the result of honey bees collecting nectar from various local wildflowers.
Thanks to the assortment of nectar sources, this honey can exhibit a spectrum of:
- Colors, spanning from very light to dark.
- Flavors that range from mild and fruity to slightly tangy and strong.
Wildflower Honey is renowned for its potential to combat seasonal allergies. Also, it makes a delightful drizzle for pancakes and can be a suitable sugar substitute in both cooking and baking.
Manuka Honey hails from New Zealand, where honey bees collect nectar from the blossoms of the Manuka bush. It’s a native plant thriving in southern Australia and New Zealand.
In New Zealand, beekeepers intentionally cultivate the Manuka bush for its honey, which is prized for its impressive medicinal properties. In fact, it’s widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. Besides, it's well-known for its role in:
- Promoting improved digestion
- Enhancing the immune system
- Providing relief from coughs and sore throats
Compared to regular table honey, Manuka Honey is thicker, darker, and creamier. Yes, with a subtle nutty undertone. Think of it as the perfectly creamed honey you wanted.
Orange Blossom Honey
Orange Blossom Honey, originally from Spain and Mexico, is now widely produced and seen for sale in the United States. This is particularly true for regions with warmer climates like Southern California, Texas, and Florida. It originates from hives where bees have collected nectar from a variety of citrus plants. This is a popular choice characterized by its light color, carrying a fresh and slightly citrus aroma and flavor.
Notably, Orange Blossom Honey is:
- Rich in natural antioxidants
- Full of anti-inflammatory properties
- Capable of bolstering the immune system
It serves as a valuable addition to a healthy diet, helping shield against the damage caused by free radicals. After all, they can contribute to chronic diseases.
Eucalyptus Honey, with its distinctive flavor drawn from strategically placed hives near eucalyptus plants, originally comes from Australia. Today, its production has expanded to California as well, resulting in a honey with a dark amber hue and a moderate aroma.
It carries a prominent eucalyptus floral essence, featuring a robust herbal flavor and a subtle menthol-like aftertaste. Similar to other types, this honey is valued for its medicinal properties. Further, it includes its ability to:
- Combat inflammation
- Promote wound healing
- provide relief from coughs and congestion