The most commonly used and reliable form of sweetener, before sugar gained its supremacy, Honey has been used for more than a few thousand years, owing its popularity to the loved flavor and long shelf life. Used for its sweetening, medicinal, therapeutic, preservative and skincare benefits, Honey has been a savior potion for many societies and civilizations.
Factors Responsible for the Varying Flavors
Not all honey is alike, its color, texture, smell, viscosity and taste vary, depending upon a lot of environmental factors. Here are 8 factors that we have found to play a major role in determining what your honey tastes like.
1. Flora: Every flower of a plant which produces nectar is responsible for its own distinctive color, aroma and texture to the raw honey produced from it, due to its varying chemical composition. Honey from a single hive is usually from a single source flower or a blend from a collections of flowers growing nearby, which the bees have attended to. Bees usually fly a few kilometers to get nectar, to be precise around 3 to 4 kilometers and the vegetation around within that area becomes primarily responsible for its overall flavor.
2. Bee Species: Honey is produced by a diverse range of species of honeybees, wherein honey from every species varies in flavor, production quantity, color and even consistency.
3. Soil: The type of soil in which the nectar- producing plants grow, impacts the honey flavor, as every soil has varying nutrient composition which affects the nectar quality and its chemical structure.
4. Region: The area from where the bees collect the nectar from the flowers plays an important role in its overall flavor and notes. Honey from tropical regions tend to be clear and runny due to high humidity in the area, whereas ones extracted in desert regions tend to be extremely viscous, due to high heat and dehydration of honey.
5. Season: The sweetness and color of the honey varies with the season, the honey produced in spring tends to be lighter in color and less sweet, as we approach towards autumn, it becomes sweeter and darker.
6. Tree Resin: Bees utilize resin from tree trunks to seal the honey in their hives, this resin also impart its distinctive flavor to the honey, depending upon which tree it has originated from.
7. Age of honey: Honey color alters with time and it tends to get darker with age.
8. Container: Glass containers tend to protect honey’s original taste, whereas metal and plastic tend to alter it as the as the chemicals in them can leach into the honey.
Apart from that the color of your honey determines its flavor notes too. A light colored honey would be mild in flavor, whereas a dark colored honey has stronger tones. Additionally, the amount of light which passes through honey is also responsible for its varying hues.
Testing the Purity of Honey
To reap in its optimum benefits you need to ensure that your bottle of honey is pure. For that you need to test and check for the presence of adulteration and flavoring additives. There are a number of home-based procedures which can enable you to test that.
Fire Test– Dip a cotton bud in honey and set it on fire. Ideally, it should burn off completely and smoothly, which is not the case if honey is impure.
Heat Test: Pure honey crystalizes on heating, whereas impure honey starts bubbling off on application of heat.
Vinegar Test: Mix a few drops of honey in a water vinegar solution, if it starts to foam, then it reveals the contamination of your honey.
Water Test: Pure honey doesn’t dissolve that easily in water. Whereas, if the honey has been added with sugar and other flavoring agents it will dissolve without much effort.
Surface Test: Pour a drop or two of honey on your thumb, paper or any other surface. Pure honey will settle on the surface and will not run or drip away.
There are a plethora of options to consume honey, subject to personal preferences and recipe choices.
Honey with Water: The simplest and widely preferred way to consume is to have honey with cold water or hot water in the morning or night. Adding lemon to it is another preferred option from earlier times to reap its health benefits for digestion, weight loss and good skin.
Honey with Milk: Adding honey to your milk gives it a soothing and delicious flavor and taste. Apart from that, benefits of honey and milk are not unidentified to mankind. It helps to have a better night’s sleep, boosts digestion, stamina and bone health and helps to fight stress and a range of infections too.
Honey in Beverages: In beverages itself you can create a range of variants. You can replace sugar with honey in your regular tea, coffee, lemonade, shakes and smoothies as well to make it healthier. Additionally, you can create brand new concoctions and drinks, and enhance its flavors by adding honey.
Honey with Herbal Tea: Nothing blends together as well as a cup of herbal tea and honey, it enhances its flavor and endows with its vast health benefits too.
Honey with Desserts: To add that healthy touch to your desserts and give them a more natural sweetening flavor, you can add honey while preparing your loved desserts, whether its Kheer, Halwa, Puddings, cookies or cakes. You can also drizzle honey over your cereal, muesli, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, custard, and fruit cream.
Honey with Savories: It can be added to a range of your snacks, appetizers and even main course, to enhance the original flavors and to add a touch of subtle sweetness. Benefits of honey and cinnamon are an open secret in the culinary world, not only they add great flavor but also boost the immune system.
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