Honey is one of our most versatile foods. Caitlin Reid tells us we should eat more of it!
Why eat honey?
Honey is one of our most versatile foods. It contains no fat or additives, and is predominantly made up of two sugars - glucose and fructose. One teaspoon of honey is equal to two teaspoons of sugar and contains 280kJ. Honey usually has a low to moderate GI, although this can vary.
Does it have medicinal properties?
All honey contains hydrogen peroxide, an anti-bacterial agent that is beneficial for skin infections and wound healing. Some types of Manuka honey also contain an antibacterial component known as Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which may be effective for treating wounds and relieving symptoms associated with stomach ulcers. A small clinical trial found that even just one teaspoon of Manuka honey can provide some relief.
Recent studies have also shown children with chest infections slept better and coughed less when given honey instead of cough medication before bedtime.
Why are there different varieties?
Bees collect nectar from different flowers and this determines the colour, flavour and aroma of the honey. Some nectars will make a light honey, others a golden honey and some a darker one.
How should I store it?
Honey should be stored in a cool dry place. Your pantry is perfect.
Can I eat honey that has become 'candied'?
Honey that has 'candied' is still in top condition. All honey will eventually candy - depending on temperatures and the ratio of natural sugars - but this is easily reversed by standing the container in hot water.
What is raw honey?
Most honey you buy in the supermarket has been heat treated to make the liquid easier to manage during processing and to reduce candying. However, heat treatment can affect the flavour, colour and aroma of honey, and also damage the enzymes, trace minerals and vitamins. Raw honey hasn't been heat treated.
Do beekeepers feed bees sugar?
During drought or cold spells, when there are no flowers to forage on, beekeepers occasionally need to help the bees out. They may move the hives to places where there is more nectar, such as an orchard or forest. To prevent the bees from starving, the beekeepers also give bees a dietary supplement of sugar syrup (sugar and water).
Type of honey
What it's best for
A straw-coloured honey that is often used as a sweetener in tea or coffee.
A dense light-coloured honey that is mainly used to enhance cakes and biscuits.
Contains Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), a phytochemical, antibacterial substance that has been found to be effective in treating the bacteria that cause some stomach ulcers.
This honey has a bold flavour and a golden colour. Best suited for marinades or milkshakes.
This is Australia's premier honey. Light to golden in colour, it's great on toast or as a baste for lamb.
Honey takes on a creamy consistency when the glucose separates out of the solution, losing water and crystrallising.