Bees and raw honeyappeared on Earth much earlier than humans in the Tertiary period, approximately sixty million years ago. There is evidence of coexistence with men in the Prehistoric period, as evidenced by a prehistoric painting of about 15 000 years ago, found in the spider cave in Valencia (Spain).
Subsequently, honey, a product described as “food of gods” has been used and consumed in later civilizations: in Egypt was found a pot of honey in perfect conditions of consumption, in a tomb built 3 000 years ago; in Ancient Greece was recommended by Hippocrates as a fortifying food that prolonged life, the ancient China was consumed by the wealthy classes.
During World War II, the pilots of the air force were fed large quantities of honey in each mission, when their planes travelled 12 km above sea level, at temperatures around 15° below zero. Extreme conditions, in which the human body cannot survive without an adequate or sufficient supply of oxygen and maintenance of body temperature. However, their honey-rich diet gave them control over their body and brain energy level, allowing them to survive and successfully perform their duties.
In our physical shop of the Cortijuelo de San Benito in Las Rozas de Madrid or in our online shop, you can find more than 20 types of Spanish honey, and soon also European, where you can taste and taste them. In addition, in each card of each type of honey, you will find a description of each type of honey, where the following information will be specified: origin, aroma, flavor, sensations in the mouth, specific properties of each honey and pairing. Among the varieties of honey that we offer are the common ones of orange blossom, heather, lavender, rosemaryand thyme, and others more scarce as the one of manuka, cilantro, lemon, medlar, etc. Of the Spanish ones we have almost all, some we do not bring them for their little culinary value.
Raw honey can also be found in other specialist honey shops, herbalists, gourmet shops and supermarkets. If you are bought by large supermarkets, be sure to buy quality honey, as most of them are of foreign origin, pasteurized, mixed and adulterated. For more information on how to buy quality raw honey, you can read: Where to buy pure or raw quality honey
Photo 1: Honeycomb
Composition of honey:
Honey is a substance made up mainly of sugars, fructose and glucose, and to a lesser extent of minerals (potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, silicon, iron, phosphorus, etc. Trace elements Zinc, molybdenum, iodine, etc.), vitamins (Vitamins B2, ac. Pantothenic, niacin, thiamine, B6, C, K, ac. Folic, biotin), amino acids and bioflavonoids, although their composition depends on many factors, such as: harvested species, nature of the soil and physiological state of the colony.
The honey presents colors from white to dark browns reaching the black, being found even yellowish, reddish or greenish honeys. However, the most common colors range from dark brown to amber. In addition, when honey crystallizes or solidifies, it loses color.
The colour of honey does not indicate its quality, but its origin. Dark honeys, such as heather honey, come from myelates and light honeys, such as rosemary honey, from the nectar of flowers. When honey is dark, honey has a high content of calcium phosphate, iron, bioflavoniodes and vitamins B and C. These honeys are ideal for children and students and for people suffering from anaemia. The lighter honeys are rich in vitamin A and antioxidants.
Aroma, flavor and texture:
There is a great variety of aromas, flavors and textures of honey, depending on the raw material with which the bees have made it.
Honeys made with mielatos are less sweet, because they contain salty notes of minerals, which mask the sweetness of the honey. Within these honeys elaborated with mielatos, a great fan of aromas, flavors and textures is found according to the origin of the mielatos and the concentration and type of minerals.
The honeys elaborated with the nectar of the flowers, are in general sweeter, although exceptions are found, as the honey of Madroño. Each nectar of each plant variety has different and characteristic aromas and flavours, whose function is to attract insects, especially bees, to carry out the pollination process. This richness of plant nectars together with the work of worker bees gives us the rich variety of aromas, flavours and textures of honey.
Crystallization is a natural phenomenon that happens to almost all honeys, in which honey goes from a liquid to a solid state. This is due to the fact that honey is a supersaturated solution (high percentage of sugar in relation to the amount of water) and increases its stability when it precipitates and becomes solid. In this process, the honey does not lose any property, flavor or aroma.
Crystallization depends on the sugar content and temperature. The higher the glucose content and its temperature around 14 °C, the faster the crystallization. It can also be stimulated by containing traces of dust, pollen, wax, propolis or air bubbles.
In the crystallization process, the first thing that crystallizes is the glucose and when it does, water is expelled, and this decreases the concentration of the solution of the other sugars in the honey. In this way, a liquid phase with a higher moisture content is formed. This may contain small amounts of yeast that favor the fermentation of honey.
Photo 2: Crystallized eucalyptus honey
Properties of honey:
Health and well-being have always been issues that have concerned society, and this concern is growing more and more, with the spread and multiplication of diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, circulatory system problems …, all related to lack of physical exercise and bad consumption habits. That is why it is fundamental to abandon industrially treated products, lacking in vitamins and nutrients, which only provide us with calories and return to natural and fresh products, without manipulating, such as honey, which provide us with nutrients, strengthen our immune system and prevent diseases.
As biologist Gloria Havenhand points out in her book, “Honey, Nature’s Golden Healer”.
“After all, a long life depends on the ability not to suffer infections and diseases, and honey strengthens the immune system, has antibacterial and disinfectant properties.
Honey, one of the most complete foods found in nature, natural and full of nutrients, has the following therapeutic and nutritional properties:
– Easy assimilation: It is a food of easy assimilation because it is constituted by carbohydrates of short chains.
– Promotes the assimilation of calcium and magnesium: Combining the consumption of honey with some calcium supplement, such as cheese or yogurt, facilitates the digestion and assimilation of calcium and magnesium.
– Slimming: As it has more sweetening power than sugar. Less honey consumption is needed for the same sweetening of a food.
– Energy source: Energy source of easy and quick digestion to be sugars pre-digested by bees. These sugars go directly to the bloodstream.
– Infertility: Stimulates sexual vigor
– Insomnia: has relaxing properties. Drink a glass of milk with honey before going to bed.
– Antibiotic action: treatment against pharyngitis, laryngitis, rhinitis, flu.
– Increases the hemoglobin content of blood and muscle strength: Indicated for those suffering from asthenia and states of fatigue both physical and psychic.
– It stimulates the immune system and the formation of antibodies due to its content in ascorbic acid, magnesium, copper and zinc.
– Burns: cures burns and wounds, by antibacterial properties for its high concentration of sugars and its on top. Glucose-oxides, which causes the release of hydrogen peroxide.
– Digestive ulcers: honey acts against the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, quasnate ulcers and gastritis
Honey in the kitchen
Honey apart from its numerous health properties, also has a number of culinary properties:
– It is a good food preservative, for example: if you have some salad left over and you don’t want to keep it straight, you can add a spoonful of honey to the dressing and it will keep the freshness of the salad longer.
– Humectation: honey helps to humidify foods, especially confectionery preparations such as doughs.
– Gratin: ideal for gratin meats in the oven. Mix the honey with the cinnamon, spread the chicken thighs or chops with this mixture, and you will see that excellent presentation and flavor.
Properties are altered by moisture, light, and heat, so it is important to buy fresh honey and store it properly.
How do bees make honey?
Honey is a natural product that comes from plants through bees. The raw material for its elaboration is the nectar of the flowers; an aqueous solution concentrated in sugars, amino acids and minerals, produced by the nectars of the flowers; or the mielatos, excretions of insects sucking the sap of plants.
The bees collect nectar and myelates from the plants, store them in their crop, at the same time that they smear pollen and carry out pollination, transmitting pollen from flower to flower. In the bee’s crop, the raw material is mixed with its saliva, which fluidizes it and enriches it with enzymes, and with biochemical catalysts that participate in the transformation of honey sugars. Once the bee has filled its crop, it moves to the hive, in order to empty its contents to its companions, and they pass the solution from one to another until achieving an increase in the concentration and formation of honey.
The process does not end here, the honey is introduced into the cells to evaporate the water to reach a concentration of sugars between 70 and 80%. Finally, the cell with the honey is closed with an operculum for later consumption.