All about Honey
All about Honey
How is honey made naturally?
Honey Bee gets attracted to the nectar produced by a flower, which has small sugar content in it. Pollination of the flower happens, as the bee carries the pollen grains of previously visited flowers. A honey bee may visit as many as 1500 flowers before her honey sac gets full.
The nectar is converted to honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. It is stored in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. The unique design of the honeycomb, coupled with constant fanning by the bees’ wings, causes evaporation to take place, creating the thick, sweet liquid we know as honey. The color and flavor of honey varies from hive to hive based on the type of flower nectar collected by the bees.
The 60,000 or so bees in a beehive may collectively travel as much as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey!
Beekeepers harvest honey by collecting the honeycomb frames and scraping off the wax cap that bees make to seal off honey in each cell.
Once the caps are removed, the frames are placed in an extractor – a centrifuge that spins the frames, forcing honey out of the comb. The honey is spun to the sides of the extractor, where gravity pulls it to the bottom and it can be collected.
After the honey is extracted, it is strained to remove any remaining pieces of wax or other particles. Some beekeepers and bottlers might heat the honey to make it easier to strain.
What is honey made of?
A typical honey contains
- Fructose : 38.2%
- Glucose : 31.3%
- Maltose 7.1%
- Sucrose : 1.3%
- Water: 17.2%
- Higher Sugars: 1.5%
- Ash : 0.2%
- Other/undetermined: 3.2%
Why honey crystallizes?
There is misconception in consumers that crystallized honey is adulterated. It is natural for honey to get crystallized as explained below.
The two principal sugars in honey are fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (grape sugar). The content of fructose and glucose in honey varies from one type of honey to the other. Generally, the fructose ranges from 30- 44 % and glucose from 25- 40 %. The balance of these two major sugars is the main reason that leads to crystallization of honey, and the relative percentage of each determines whether it crystallizes rapidly or slowly. What crystallizes is the glucose, due to its lower solubility. Fructose is more soluble in water than glucose and will remain fluid. When glucose crystallizes, it separates from water and takes the form of tiny crystals. As the crystallization progresses and more glucose crystallizes, those crystals spread throughout the honey. The solution changes to a stable saturated form, and ultimately the honey becomes thick or crystallized.
Hence, as explained above crystallization of honey is natural and is an attribute of pure and natural honey.
Honey has to be stored at room temperature. If it is stored in refrigerator it crystallizes fast. If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve
Benefits of Honey
Following are benefits of consuming Honey regularly.
- Honey has a healthy Glycemic Index (GI), meaning that its sugars can be gradually absorbed into the bloodstream to result in better digestion.
- Honey contains natural minerals and vitamins which help the metabolizing of undesirable cholesterol and fatty acid on the organs and tissues into the system, hence preventing obesity and promoting better health for us.
- The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids.
- The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
- Honey is natural sweetener, has antioxidants and is free of fat and cholesterol!
- Having a glass of raw lemon juice with a spoon of honey before sleeping, improves sleep
- Honey can reduce fat deposits found in our cardiovascular system.
- Honey will not ferment in your stomach like refined table sugar or sucrose does. Because of this it does not subject you to a risk of bacterial infection.
- Honey is the simplest possible molecular form of sugar, which cannot be broken down any further. This allows it to travel directly from the small intestine to the blood stream while not causing any problems to the digestive system like sucrose.
- Honey is a top choice as fuel for burning body fat during sleep since it has an equal ratio of fructose to glucose.
- The combination of honey and cinnamon has unique healing abilities and has long history as a home remedy. Cinnamon’s essential oils and honey’s enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide qualify the two “anti-microbial” foods with the ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi.
Adulteration of honey is done to make it cheaper to produce or to change its flavor. Sugars, syrups or compounds might be added to Honey. The most common adulteration ingredient is flavorless corn syrup.
There is a common perception in the consumers mind that crystallized honey is bad. Hence to avoid crystallization, some commercial entities heat the Honey to an extent that it does not crystallize.
What is the problem with most available Honey in the Market?
Most commercial honey is heated and pasteurized, eliminating its fragrance and changing the chemical composition of the honey itself. At these high temperatures, the honey is then ultra-filtered. Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure whereby honey is heated, sometimes watered down with corn syrup or other sweet, non-honey products and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey.
It’s during the process of pasteurization that much of the nutritional content of raw honey is destroyed. Powerful antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins are destroyed when heat is applied to raw honey. Raw honey is anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial in nature, but the same cannot be said about most commercial honey because of the heating process that is applied.
How to find Honey’s quality?
Quality of honey can be distinguished by fragrance, taste, and consistency. The less water content the honey has, the better the quality of honey.
Ripe, freshly collected, high-quality honey at 20 °C (68 °F) should flow from a knife in a straight stream, without breaking into separate drops. After falling down, the honey should form a bead.
Some of the sources where this article is compiled from are :
- honey dot com
- en dot Wikipedia dot org/wiki/Honey