Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The sweet joy of honey

People have been consuming honey for millennia. The promised land in the book of Exodus was described as a land overflowing in "milk and honey." That sounds delicious. In fact, John the Baptist had a diet of honey and locusts, which doesn't sound especially appetizing, despite being high in protein. 

Honey has been used all over the world, from the near east to China to Mesoamerica. The Mayans considered honey to be sacred. Their honey came from indigenous bees that are incapable of stinging. In ancient Egypt, the fertility God, Min, was offered gifts of honey.

Honey is delicious and can be helpful in treating coughs. It should, however, not be given to babies under the age of one year. There is a risk of infant botulism. In addition, people who have weakened immune systems should avoid honey. For them, there is too much of a risk of a bacterial or a fungal infection. For everyone over the age of twelve months and who has a healthy immune system, honey is a good thing to enjoy. It can be enjoyed in baked goods, such as baklava, in condiments, such as honey mustard, in cooking, such as in a honey barbecue, or in a cup of tea.



There are many varieties of honey. Usually, they are named for the plant that the honeybees had pollinated. If bees, however, went to pollinate a field of wildflowers, there would be a variety of plants, and the honey would be called "wildflower" honey. The honey shown on the left is "orange blossom" honey. It is the only honey that is not locally produced, mainly because orange trees are not indigenous to Western New York.

Honey can also be labeled for the way it is prepared. Some honey is pasteurized, which is a process that subjects the honey to high heat. Filtering is also a process that subjects the honey to high heat. This honey lasts longer and is often sold at supermarkets. Raw honey is the honey that comes directly from the honeycomb, without any heat being applied. The jar in the center of the picture is a jar of raw honey. It is a fairly light honey so it could possibly be either clover honey or wildflower honey.

The honey on the right was not labeled. It is a dark honey, with a stronger flavor than the lighter honeys. It is very delicious in tea. Honey colors range from very light to dark brown. Dark honey includes avocado honey and buckwheat honey.

Honey is so delicious in tea.

Honey and lemon are a matched set.

I hope that you've enjoyed the illustrated story of honey that started with bees and ended with a cup of tea. 

2 comments:

Ligaya said...

I have a friend who has become interested in beekeeping in recent years. She was the first person to get me thinking about where my honey comes from. It's amazing how many variances in flavor are available!

Alana said...

My spouse kept bees for one season - we never got any honey; I guess we didn't have the magic touch (this was back in the early 1980's). I love buckwheat honey, which is indigenous to Western New York. It makes an amazing apple honey cake.

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