We all think we know what honey is, how it is produced, what it can be used for, etc. but there are some doubts that flutter through our heads. For example, would we know how to differentiate 100% natural honey from artificial and processed ones? Is honey from bees the same as that made artificially? We will solve all these doubts below.
Honey has been sold to us for centuries and we have been convinced of its multiple health benefits. We know the importance of having a varied and balanced diet, but the truth is that honey is not necessary, only if it is wadding and we feel like it as a sweetener for yogurt, pancakes or some fruits.
With the subject of honey, today there are many doubts, especially to identify real and authentic honey from adulterated honey. From now on we say that until we open the pot we will not know very well which is which, there are some basic tricks that we will tell you next.
What is honey?
In a nutshell, honey is a type of product made by bees from the nectar of flowers and the secretions of living parts of the plant. The bees store it in a kind of stomach that they have that is specific for the creation of honey.
Honey is a food that has been admired since the stone age and today it is used in many dishes, even to sweeten some foods. Natural honey is a viscous and very sweet substance that does not consist of any additives nor has it been subjected to temperatures above 40 degrees. If the honey that we are buying has been subjected to some process, it is known as pasteurized honey or artificial honey , where the quality is drastically reduced and it is not recommended for our health.
The color and flavor of honey depends a lot on the geographical origin and also on the time of year in which it is being collected. There are gold, red, white and even black honeys, and depending on that, it will be sweet, bitter and even liquor-flavored.
Where does it come from? How is it produced?
As we have seen, it is the bees that produce the honey and far from the rumor that “it is bee vomit”, it can be said that the process is not like that. The bees collect the nectar from the flowers, ingest it, store it in their second stomach (melaria crop) and there is a series of reactions where the pH of the insect’s skin changes and it fuses with special enzymes.
When the crop is full, they return to the hive and pass the contents on to other bees. It is the worker bees who are in charge of chewing and removing moisture from that content. It goes back and forth from bee to bee until that sweet nectar turns into honey. That primitive honey is stored in cells of a honeycomb.
About 8 bees are needed to get a single teaspoon of honey . And to add insult to injury, not all bee species in the world make this golden delicacy, but only 5% of the species, more specifically the Apis genus.
Due to all this process, vegans consider honey to be of animal origin and therefore it is not allowed to eat natural honey in vegan or strict vegetarian diets. The thing changes if it is artificial honey, even so, it is a completely dispensable food in our diet.
Yes, it is true that it has many nutrients, but not any special ones, nor any that cannot be achieved through a healthy and varied diet rich in vegetables, fruits, cereals, seeds, nuts, eggs, dairy products, lean meats, oily fish , etc.
Differences between natural and artificial honey
False or adulterated honey has been combined with other types of honey and then the origin of the product is falsified. The most common, actually, is to add sugar, glucose syrup, molasses, dyes, thickeners, etc. which is much cheaper and easier than obtaining large amounts of authentic honey to make the company profitable.
Another key difference is that natural honey never expires , that is, it never spoils or expires. This is thanks to its antibacterial properties. However, if it is false, it will have an expiration date and it will really go bad and sour.
Obviously, the taste and smell of natural honey is more intense and it is quite likely that many of us have never smelled and tasted 100% natural honey. Another key difference is the bacteriostatic power, and that is that processed and pasteurized honeys lose their natural antibacterial power.
Artificial honeys are much less nutritious than natural ones. And not only do they have fewer nutrients, but they are much more unhealthy due to the huge amount of sugars. This is why honey is not allowed in many slimming diets, since almost 80% of those sold in supermarkets are not natural honey.
So you can recognize 100% natural honey
Natural honey is very thick and sticky , so much so that if we put our finger in and pick up a little, that amount will remain immobile in our yolk. However, if it is adulterated or artificial honey, it will pour out almost like liquid.
This is why many brands use non-translucent jars, dark jars, plastic jars, large labels, pompous names with flashy specifications, etc. and all to prevent the consumer from grabbing the can or jar and moving it around a bit. That simple gesture will make us see that they want to strain us with a lousy quality honey.
Another trick, if we put a spoonful of the honey that we have bought into a glass of water and it sinks and bubbles, it is good quality honey. Otherwise, we must feel cheated. We can also try to caramelize the honey, and if it is authentic, it will not bubble when boiled.
Price is also key. If the appearance of the jar and the price are of low quality, it is quite likely that there is no natural honey inside, but that it is adulterated. If the jar is made of glass, allows you to see inside, the product is thick, the labeling is simple and it has a high price above the average of the rest of the supermarket shelf, there is a high probability that it is of good quality and natural.