Honey is made by bees from the nectar they collect from flowers. Viscous and fragrant, it's a natural sweetener and can be used just as it is to spread on bread or toast, or added to sweet and savoury dishes.
The flavour, colour and consistency vary, depending on the flower(s) the nectar was collected from and the production method used - as a general rule, the darker the colour, the stronger the flavour.
Honey is available clear and runny, thick and opaque, in a honeycomb or as a chunk of cut honeycomb suspended in runny honey.
All year round.
Choose the best
There are many different flavours of honey. Some of the most commonly available honeys with delicate tastes and aromas include clover (mainly from Britain), orange blossom (from the US, Mexico and Europe), lemon blossom (Mexico), acacia (China, Canada, Europe) and leatherwood (New Zealand).
More intensely flavoured honeys include Scottish heather, eucalyptus (Australia and the Mediterranean), Manuka (New Zealand), lavender (France), Hymettus (Greek, named after the mountain of the same name). Runny honey is easier to cook with.
Honey doesn't need any preparation. If clear honey becomes cloudy (as a result of the natural process of crystallisation) just stand the jar in a bowl of very hot water for 15 minutes or so, or give it a blast in the microwave (with the lid removed, if it's made of metal) for around 30 seconds.
In a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Comb and cut comb honey will last for around six months.
Add to marinades, salad dressings or smoothies. Drizzle over Greek yoghurt or fruit salads. Pour over soft cheeses and grill. Use to add sweetness and a moist consistency to baking.
Health Benefits of Honey
- Constipation - Take several tablespoon of raw honey everyday (if you are not diabetic). Its natural fatty acids stimulate peristalsis and help establish regularity.
- Bronchitis - Dissolve honey in a cup of boiled milk. Sip slowly to ease respiratory distress.
- Aid Digestion - Take one to two tablespoons, three times a day, after meal.
- Sore throat - Mix honey, lemon juice and egg white and sip with spoon. This will ease coughing spasms and promote soothing of sore throat distress or drink one cup of warm tea with honey added, three times a day.
- For Smoother Skin and to Remove Pimples - Apply everyday pure honey to face and allow to dry for one hour. Then wash with soap and water.
- For Healthy Scalp, Soft and Glossy Hair - Apply equal amounts of honey and water to scalp and hair. Allow to dry for ½ to 1 hour. Then shampoo and rinse with water. There is no danger because honey is not a chemical but it is a food.
- Natural Alkalinizer - When you are troubled with acid indigestion, use honey as a natural alkalinizer, hence it may also be used in cases of peptic ulcers. It also soothes problems of gastric catarrh, hyperacidity and gastric distress.
- Hyperacidity and Peptic Ulcer - Take ½ glass of water to which one to one and a half teaspoon of honey was added, to be taken every three hours (waking hours). Continue with your regular drinking of ½ glass of plain water every hour.
- The Hindus and Chinese cover burns, scratches, wounds and open sores with honey and let the application remain for several hours. It is also claimed that honey is soothing and helps ease inflammation, resist putrefaction and promote better healing. It is the Oriental's all-natural first aid medicine.
- Honey helps maintain body youthfulness. It also improves the retention of calcium, which is needed for building strong nerves and strong bones common to Orientals. Honey boost the hemoglobin count and uses its good iron and copper supplies to help problems of anemia. It helps soothe kidneys and liver, helps protect against illness of the respiratory and digestive tract, boost the health of heart and promotes a balm of relaxation and soothing contentment.
BBC Good Food
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