All about honey

The short and sweet of it

Consumed by humans for thousands of years, honey is the only human food to be made by insects.

From organic to conventional honey

There are over 300 varieties of honey in the world. The colour, flavour and thickness are influenced by the floral source. Honey's colour range extends from white and blonde to brown, red and a dark, almost blackish, brown. Its flavour is equally varied. In general, the darker the honey, the more pronounced the flavour.

The differences between an organic honey and a conventional one are mainly concerned with the area where the nectar is collected and the methods of beekeeping. The beekeeper is required to follow a standards guide and, for example, ensure that the hives are placed in an area free of pesticides and insecticides (so away from human activity). They cannot use chemicals to treat sick beehives and must rigorously adhere to certain methods for harvesting and extracting the honey. All these standards are established and overseen by an independent certifying body. Naturoney is also certified by Ecocert Canada.

Organic honey never undergoes pasteurization. For this reason, crystallization occurs more quickly.

Busy bees

From the time they are born to the time they die, bees work tirelessly to produce honey. There are two types of bees in a hive: forager bees, which leave the hive to collect the nectar, and worker bees, which remain inside the hive to make the honey.

Awakened by the sun's warmth, bees visit thousands of flowers during the spring and summer months, playing a critical role in the pollination of plants.

A fascinating process

Bees collect nectar using their straw-like tongue. Once back at the hive, the forager bee gives the nectar to a worker. As more nectar is provided, the liquid becomes increasingly enzyme-rich and thick, eventually turning into honey.

The honey is then deposited into the cells of the hive's honeycomb. To lower humidity, the bees fan their wings for up to 20 minutes to circulate the air. The cells are finally capped and the honey is ready to be consumed at a later time.

Conservation and pasteurization

Honey is a non-perishable food. It keeps for decades if not hundreds of years. To preserve its properties, store it in a closed container at a temperature of between 18°C and 27°C.

Honey does change over time, however. Crystallization is a natural process that produces glucose crystals, whose number, shape, size and quality vary according to the honey's composition and storage conditions. The lower the honey's water content, the higher the amount of glucose and the quicker the formation of crystals.

To decrystallize honey, simply heat it in a double boiler.

Pasteurized or not?

Pasteurization destroys yeast and bacteria that may be present in honey. It also slows down the process of crystallization. The process consists of gradually heating the honey to 77°C (171°F) for two minutes and then quickly lowering its temperature to 49°C (120°F) before putting it in jars.

HEALTH CANADA WARNING In Canada, honey is the only food which has been linked to infant botulism - a rare but serious illness that is caused by ingesting the bacterium C. botulinum. In the majority of cases of infant botulism, the source of C. botulinum is never determined, but because honey has been linked to cases of infant botulism, parents are advised not to feed honey to infants less than one year of age.

Honey’s many flavours

There are over 300 kinds of honey in the world. The colour, taste, smell and texture are determined by the floral source of the nectar. The taste is as varied as the colour, which ranges from white and golden to amber, brown and almost black. As a rule of thumb, the darker the colour, the stronger the flavour.

Honey has been used in cooking since ancient times to flavour, sweeten and caramelize food. It is the perfect addition to all types of dishes, from appetizers to desserts, and beverages.

As honey is a more powerful sweetener than sugar, a smaller amount is required to obtain a comparable result. It is also much more fragrant than sugar in addition to being natural.

Help protect bees

Unfortunately, due to monoculture, climate change and insecticides , bee populations have been declining since the end of the 20th century. You can help reverse the trend by letting dandelions, clover and wild flowers grow around your home or by planting indigenous flowers.