Honey has various therapeutic properties, energizing effects and lots of natural flavors. Below, find out more about honey and enjoy the benefits of cooking with this special food. Many articles talk about the therapeutic properties of honey (helps digestion, treats sore throats and burning, prevents asthenia), its effects on energy (has more than 400 organic substances), the variety of flavors and the price increase. But few bring about the decline of bees and the wider implications of this phenomenon.
It might sound like a clishé but honey it is really a special food because it is produced by some very special creatures. Because of their role in plant pollination, people depend on bees for all their food. They visit nearly 100 flowers on a single “walk” and hasten pollination of fruit trees, of rape, sunflower, strawberries, broccoli, beans and clover which the cattle graze. If it wasn’t for bees, the future of fruits, vegetables, oil, even the cheese would be disrupted. In recent years, bee populations have suffered worldwide.
More than a quarter of them have disappeared in the winter of 2007-2008. Nobody knows the reason exactly, but is supposed to be a combination of several factors: a parasite, a virus, pesticides, reducing food and habitat loss due to intensive agriculture. Perhaps climate changes also played an important role. In France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, the group of pesticides considered to be responsible for the deaths of bees was banned, and other western countries are taking similar measures in certain campaigns.
Cooking with honey
If warming honey at a temperature above 40° C, a lot of active ingredients are destroyed. If heating to over 90° C it is transformed into a kind of liquid sugar. However, cooking with honey has certain advantages: you get a better taste and durable freshness (cookies will last longer before they spoil because honey retains moisture and prevents mold). But we must pay attention to quantity and temperature of cooking: Honey is sweeter than sugar, so be careful when you want to change the sweetener in recipes. 1 cup of sugar is equivalent to ¾ or ½ cup of honey.
In addition, you will need to decrease the amount of liquid added (if you replace 1 cup sugar, reduce the amount of liquid by ¼ cup). Honey containing cakes will turn brown (cook) more easily, so do not forget to lower oven temperature. Do not heat the honey in the microwave, because its taste will change. For most recipes, it is easier to use liquid honey. If the honey has crystallized, there’s no problem: put the jar in a pot with hot water for 15 minutes. Will become liquid again.
How to choose honey
To enjoy all the benefits of honey, you need to know where to buy and how to store. It is important to buy honey from authorized sellers if you want to make sure that you don’t buy liquid sugar. The rough method to forge honey is to boil the sugar in a herbal infusion. Another method often used is feeding bees with sugar syrup.
Types of honey
Monofloral – is produced by bees whose hives were kept in an area dominated by particular plant (rape, lime, raspberry, sunflower, etc.). Different monofloral honeys have a distinctive flavor and color because of differences between their principal nectar sources. Polyfloral – is obtained from the nectar of various flowers and has the most therapeutic features. The taste may vary from year to year, and the aroma and the flavor can be more or less intense, depending on which bloomings are prevalent.
Honeydew – is not made from flowers, but the secretions of certain insects that feed on plant juices (bees take these secretions instead of nectar). It is dark, has a more pronounced taste and laxative properties stronger than the other types of honey. The production of honeydew honey has some complications and dangers. The honey has a much larger proportion of indigestible content than light floral honeys, thus causing dysentery to the bees, resulting in the death of colonies in areas with cold winters.
Blended – Most commercially available honey is blended, meaning it is a mixture of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color, flavor, density or geographic origin.
Warning: Do not give honey to children less than one year old. This is because their digestive system is not quite well developed and they could become ill of botulism.
When you get the chance, buy honey from specialized fairs, where you can talk directly to beekeepers. Even if you are not a great lover of honey, it would be a pity to avoid it completely. Try different varieties, you may come across some flavor to your love.
Nutritional Properties of Honey
Honey is a mixture of sugars and other compounds. With respect to carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose (about 38.5%) and glucose (about 31.0%), making it similar to the synthetically produced inverted sugar syrup, which is approximately 48% fructose, 47% glucose, and 5% sucrose. Honey’s remaining carbohydrates include maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates. As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey is mostly sugars and contains only trace amounts of vitamins or minerals. Honey also contains tiny amounts of several compounds thought to function as antioxidants, including chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase, and pinocembrin. The specific composition of any batch of honey depends on the flowers available to the bees that produced the honey.