I have always been suspicious of the authenticity of large brand honey sold in retail stores. As I was researching on this topic I caught up with the founders of Honey and Spice – India’s first Online natural pure Honey company. The company was started in 2015 by a young couple when they were 25 years old. Good truthful things stand out, I was so impressed with their website that I spoke to them and educated myself on the Myths & Facts about Honey.
Ramya & Mithun hit upon the idea of selling pure Honey online when they were trekking at Dandeli in 2015. They met some tribals and got a deep understanding about Honey and how pure Honey was very different from the branded products sold in retail stores. Since then they have embarked on a mission to supply pure Honey all over the country. They have travelled and painstakingly identified reliable sources for pure Honey from Kerala, Eastern Ghats, Sunderbans, Central India, Himalayas. They now market a wide variety of products. All of which is available from their company. https://honeyandspice.in.
Lets look at some points we discussed on the wonder-food called Honey
How can a company make millions of bottles of Honey that looks and tastes identical
Standardised honey with same taste is not pure Honey. If a company is selling millions of bottles of Honey with the same identical taste – then be assured that its not pure honey. To standardise taste, texture and flavour – big brands destroy all the beneficial properties of your honey with ultra filtration and heating. However small companies like Honey and Spice collect the nectar from nature and bring it to you in its purest form. The Honey is not heated, blended or processed which ensures it has the maximum nutrients and benefits. And yes the taste will differ by lots because its impossible in nature to maintain 100%. consistency. All honey is not equal, and each honey’s colour, aroma and flavour varies depending upon its region, soil, and climate, and the type of blossom nectar gathered by the honeybee. Honey is an agricultural product of nature. Like apples and tomatoes, each one will be different.
Each worker honeybee will make just 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her entire life. So “pure” honey is truly rare. Beekeepers across the globe only produce 1/3rd of what we consume, so the demand for honey is high.
What determines the taste of Pure Honey and why is it not consistent like branded honey in retail stores
This is a function of the type of flowers the bees visit. And the type of flowers vary by region – so Himalayan Honey is different from that of W Ghats and Kerala Honey is distinctly different from that of E Ghats & Sunderbans. The taste, texture, colour, thickness all vary depending on the type of flowers and region from which the Honey is sourced. Pure Wild Honey is not always sweet – it could even have a dash of sourness / bitterness in it. Thats why the honey marketed by Honey & Spice is distinctly packaged by region / variety.
Lets understand the process. Hard working honey bees make honey from nectar. Honey bees can fly 6 – 8Km to gather nectar, pollen, water and bee glue (used in the hive to seal cracks and varnish walls).
In her search for the best sources of nectar, a bee can visit more than 600 flowers a day, and to make a single pound of honey, bees will travel and collect nectar from more than a million flowers.
With nectar collected from so many different flowers and with native plants differing from region to region, it’s no wonder honey will taste different and color will vary.
Is this the reason why the thickness and consistency also varies
The thickness of honey can change year to year with the weather. For example, if there’s more rain in the spring and summer, the honey will likely be thinner. Another impact to the thickness of honey is the process used to bottle it. Pasteurized honey is heated to super high temperatures and will likely be thinner in your bottle. However heating kills a lot of the goodness of honey. To get the most nutrients (think vitamins and enzymes), you should select a honey that is raw and unfiltered. Honey straight from the hive will have bee parts and wax in it, so it needs to be strained manually . If the water content is more than 25% honey may ferment – Rather than heat to evaporate the water, you should dehumidify the air to bring the moisture level below 20%. Then Honey does not ferment. The dehumidification is done at the company processing unit.
Is Crystallized (Granulated) Honey spoilt Honey
No its not. Crystallization is Honey’s natural process of preserving itself. The main reason for this phenomenon is honey’s composition. Typically, honey contains natural sugars and around 20% water. Because this is saturated, the glucose may separate from the water and form crystals. If your honey has crystallized, that does not mean it has gone bad, in fact it is a sign of quality. If you gently warm the bottle by standing the bottle in hot water and gently stirring it , it will return to its liquid state. Take care not overheat it as this compromises the delicate flavors. Microwaving is not recommended.
Pure honey is the only unprocessed sweetener found in nature. It has naturally occurring minerals and vitamins not found in other sweeteners and heating it at 120F for as little as a few seconds can destroy them. Commercially made honeys are often heated to high temperatures to prevent crystallization so chose fresh honey from a trusted source.
Does darker honey or white “foam” mean the honey has gone bad
As explained earlier Honey comes in all colors and flavors. The color, taste and even scent can vary widely depending on the source of the flower nectar, region, soil and climate. Warmer temperatures, storage and age also tend to darken the honey and change the flavor. The white “foam” that appears at the top of honey is simply air. This “foam” is a result of tiny air bubbles in the honey escaping to the top of the bottle. So next time you see this, don’t throw out your honey!
Is Honey gluten free
Honey is naturally free of gluten. It contains no wheat, barley, rye or oats or their byproducts.
Is it OK to use metal spoons with honey
While honey is acidic, scooping your honey with a metal spoon is such a quick movement that corrosion of the metal is unlikely. However do not store a metal spoon within your honey for long periods of time.
Do all bees produce Honey
There are nearly 20,000 known bee species in the world. Of this, only 5% make edible honey. Only honeybees and stingless bees produce enough honey to make harvesting worth it. Bumblebees produce a small amount of honey for their own survival.
Is Honey the only food source produced by an insect that humans eat
YES. Out of the more than 950,000 known insect species in the world, honeybees are the only insect to produce edible food for humans.
Is it true that Honey never goes bad
Honey never spoils and never needs refrigeration. Archaeologists have discovered clay vessels filled with honey, wine and olive oil – more than 3,000 years old, in the tombs of the Pharaohs. The wine and olive oil had spoiled but the Honey remained intact and still edible. Honey is best consumed freshly harvested and will loose its delicate flavors as it ages. Although honey will last forever, it will not taste good or hold its health benefits
Is there truly such a thing as Organic honey
Honeybees will forage up to 8 – 10 Km from their hive to gather nectar to make honey. It’s not possible to prevent them from visiting flowers that have been sprayed with chemicals whether by farmers or private homeowners. So its impossible to assure 100% organic honey
How do I store Honey
Do not refrigerate honey. Storing it at room temperature ~ sub 35 degrees is preferred.
Pure Vs Factory produced Honey – the Price says it all
500g of Indies largest commercial Honey brand sells in retail for Rs 199. Pure Himalayan Honey will cost you Rs 295 for 250 g. Thats almost a 3X premium. So if you are looking for Pure unadulterated Honey right from the source visit companies that sell pure Honey like Under the Mango Tree – https://www.utmt.in or Honey & Spice – https://honeyandspice.in