Honey is Mother Nature’s sweetener, made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers around the world. Beekeepers collect only the honey that bees don’t need and deliver it to supermarkets, farmers markets, restaurants and your favorite food and beverage products.
It’s a natural process, but a complex ingredient. Carbohydrates, acids, antioxidants, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals all can be found in honey. These components give honey its trademark sweetness and tart acidity. Honey truly is unique, from the flower to the bee to the hive to the bottle you buy at the supermarket. When honey bees forage for nectar, the following attributes are determined by the flowers the bees extract nectar from:
Ranging from water white to dark amber, honey’s color is greatly influenced by the mineral content of the nectar the bees collect. In general, the darker the honey, the more minerals, the stronger the flavor.
Fields of wildflowers, citrus and even the inside of barns. The aroma of honey spans from floral to fruity to just plain funky, all thanks to the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in honey. These VOCs provide a fingerprint for the honey and are part of the nectar that bees collect.
Honey has a familiar sweetness beloved by consumers, chefs and the food and beverage industry. However, honey has more than 3,000 different varietals, each with a unique flavor based on the flowers bees collect nectar from.
Honey bees are amazing little chemists responsible for making honey in a form we all know and love. After extracting nectar from flowers and depositing it in honeycomb, they fan their tiny but powerful wings over the substance, evaporating enough moisture to give us a perfectly pourable yet syrupy smooth liquid.
In its liquid form, honey is perfectly suited to dollop in tea, spread on cornbread or thicken a glaze. However, there is more to honey than the natural nectar that comes from the hive and is bottled for your enjoyment. Honey also can be enjoyed straight from the comb, naturally crystallized and whipped. The diversity of forms of honey make it the perfect ingredient, sweetener and flavor for any occasion, from a cheese plate to a cup of coffee.
Liquid honey is the most familiar type of honey for consumers. It easily is incorporated into recipes, used as a topping or spread in bakery foods and added straight to hot drinks for a touch of natural sweetness.
Straight from the hive to your next charcuterie plate, comb honey is cut out of a frame inside a beehive and served in its original form. Dip a cracker into it or take a bite of the comb. Yes, it’s edible!
This liquid honey has chunks of honeycomb added to its container, creating a stunning visual appearance. This type of honey also is known as a liquid/cut-comb combination.
Perfect for spreading on cornbread or toast, whipped honey is sold at supermarkets in a crystallized form with a luscious mouthfeel and divine taste.
Have you ever had a jar of honey in your pantry turn “hard?” Don’t throw it out! There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s a natural process where glucose in honey spontaneously crystallizes.