All About Honey
Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants which bees collect and transform by substance of their own, deposit, dehydrate and store in the honeycomb.
Honey is the result of the co-evolution of honeybees and flowering plants. Over the course of the millennia, trees and flowering plants have modified their leaves to become the petals of flowers and developed nectarines in an effort to attract honeybees to physically accomplish the pollen transfer necessary for their reproduction. For many species of plants, pollen attractiveness alone is sufficient cause to lure the honeybee visit. But even in these cases, leaf modification in color, number and orientation evolved in response to the honeybees vision and sense of smell.
Plants that offer nectar as well as pollen have an evolutionary advantage in the competition among flowers to achieve pollination from a relatively limited number of insects. Some examples include economically important crop plants like almonds, apples, blueberries and cranberries.
Nectar then contains sugar which becomes the attractant for the honeybee. The excessive water content of the nectar leaves it unstable in nature. Honey results when honeybees reduce the moisture of nectar to approximately 18%, a point at which honey can last indefinitely.
Honey is raw when produced by the bees. The honey is stored by the bees in a wax enclosure known as honeycomb. Honey is removed from the honeycomb by a process called extraction. Extraction is accomplished by removing the wax capping fro the honeycomb; then placing the combs in a round stainless steel tank, cone shaped at the bottom and equipped with a center spindle attached to a rack to hold the comb or frame upright. With the wax capping removed, an electric motor attached to the spindle at the center of the rack creates enough centrifugal force to send the honey to the outside of the tank where it then drains into a stainless steel storage tank. Bottling then takes place while the honey is still liquid. Raw honey is packaged without heat or filtration and may contain tiny bits of beeswax, pollen, and propolis.
Why is honey better for you than corn syrup or cane sugar? The main advantages are its major sugar components. Fructose and glucose are in a sense predigested by the bees and can be absorbed directly into the blood to provide a rapid and prolonged source of energy. In other words the absorption of honey vs. corn/cane syrup is more efficient.
It is very important to understand that all raw honey is liquid when extracted. If it is granulated (solid) in the comb, you can not extract it! So all of our honeys are extracted and bottled in liquid form. Granulation often, but not always, occurs later depending on storage temperatures and floral source. The rate of granulation may vary from season to season.
Like fine wine, varietal honeys contain a recognizable, repeatable taste and flavor which is characteristic of the nectar of their floral source. Varietal honeys can be the result of agricultural production. For example, blueberry and orange honey result from planting thousands of acres of these fruits with the placement of hives in near proximity. In the wild, neither of these plants would produce a honey in significant enough quantity to produce a recognizable flavor. On the otherhand, varietal honeys like Astor, Sweet clover, Goldenroad and Sage are all considered “volunteer” as they are found in non-cultivated environments. The occurance of varietal honeys under any condition are one of the remarkable things in beekeeping and in nature itself.
What is local honey?
Local honey is produced from flowers found nearby your home. Crystals All Natural and New York’s Own Honeys are produced primarily from aster and goldenrod. If you live in the eastern United States, these flowers can be found close to your home. While goldenrod and aster are present in urban and suburban areas it is often difficult to produce sufficient quantity to extract a surplus. Crystal’s local honeys are produced in upstate New York where abundant fields of these flowers exist. Crystals Honey urges you to eat local honey wherever you may find it.
Killer fall/winter dessert tray
White figs, sharp white cheddar, Stilton, Walnuts - shelled or not, Crystal's All Natural honey in a shallow dish in center and red or Concord grapes for garnish. Serve with water crackers or Melba toast and Madeira, Vintage Port, Black Currant tea or Grand Marnier.
Feel a cold in your future?
Hot Toddy Recipe: 1/2 whole fresh lemon, juiced onto the mug, put the peel in as well, 2 tbsp. Crystal's Wildflower honey or Crystal's Nantucket Cranberry - add boiling water - stir while sniffling the steam. Sip and sniff.
Winter grilled beef or pork:
For sauce use these proportions:
3/4lb meat: 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. Crystal's Blueberry honey, 1 tbs. virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, some grinds of black pepper.
Put ingredients in a big ceramic or glass bowl, large enough to receive the meat hot off the grill. Whisk. If using beef, add 3 fingers (sprigs about 3" long) of fresh rosemary cut up with scissors, so the spice releases into the sauce.
If using pork or chicken, cut up with shears about 10 sprigs of fresh cilantro into the sauce. Cut your meat into 1.5-inch cubes, cut up some onions in chunks - skewer meat and onions. Grill on charcoal or gas grill. When done use a fork and pull HOT meat off the skewers into the bowl with the sauce (meat will sizzle) and toss/stir so meat is flavored - serve immediately with roasted almond pilaf or roasted potatoes and steamed kale.
What is all natural (raw) honey and why is it better for you?
All natural (raw) honey is unfiltered and unheated. When extracted from the comb all natural honey contains pollen; the quantity of pollen in all natural honey is influenced by the floral source, the distance from the hive, and the moisture content of the honey. The nutritional composition of pollen surpasses that of most foods typically eaten.* Heat applied during processing (for filtration) decreases the flavor as well as degrades the pollen and protein content of the honey.
* Cran e, Eva. Honey: A Comprehensive Survey. London:Heinemann, 1975. p.253.
"What do I do with another jar of honey?"
It's OK to own more than one jar of honey at a time!
Here is what to do with the jar of honey you already have so you will put it on your list to buy another jar of honey...
and another... and another and another...
- Put honey in your tea - hot or cold - black, green, or white.
- Put honey in your coffee in the morning.
- Put honey on your ice cream at night.
- Put honey in your chai.
- Put honey on your toast, or on your cereal.
- Make a trench in your cream cheese on the bagel and add honey.
- Be Greek - put it in your plain yogurt.
- Any time of the day or night.
- Make a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch.
- If you use Crystal's All Natural honey, you won't have to eat over the kitchen sink, because this honey stays where you put it!
- Mix Orange Blossom honey with room temperature sour cream and pout on sliced strawberries, bananas, or other fruit for a mysteriously delicious dessert, whipped cream optional.
- Eat honey by the teaspoon out of the jar - it beats commercially produced corn syrup based candy, hands down. It satisfies instantly - ask your resident Pooh Bear!
- Put out sliced apples, sliced cheddar cheese, walnuts and honey for an after school snack.
- Mash an orange around on the table, cut a hole in one end, stab the knife around inside, being careful NOT to puncture the skin, pour in some Crystal's Cranberry or Crystal's Wildflower and hand it to your kid for an after school snack. They will suck all the juice out, and then eat it all except for the peel. Have one yourself. It's the Original Chewable Vitamin C!