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Honey PDF Print E-mail

The earliest historical information on the production of honey dates back to the ancient Egyptian Empire, when the processes of domesticating and breeding bees was initiated.  In this period, products from the beehive were widely used, not only in food, but also in medicine and cosmetics. No less devoted to beekeeping were the Greeks, who developed a very advanced production system, rich in various types of honey. Honey was widely used in their diets and was the basis of many foods. It was particularly used in desserts (honey cakes and cotte mielate), in fruit conserves (honey and pears) and to moderate the sharp taste of Greek wine.

Contemporary studies allow us to define honey from two viewpoints: Considering the biological aspects of honey, it must be defined as a reserve foodstuff of the bees, which, by collecting nectar and pollen, fulfil their need to build up stocks of food.

From a nutritional point of view, it can be seen as a source of simple sugars and for this reason, it is a high-energy, sweetening food. In this category, it is the only food that does not require any transformation from its natural state before reaching our tables.

Beekeeping is an ancient tradition in our land too. Thanks to various studies and the use of increasingly advanced techniques, today numerous varieties of honey can be found.

Wildflower honey is the most widely produced and consumed. It is not easy to describe its characteristics because they vary depending on the flowers used each time by the bees. Nevertheless, it may be considered the king of honey. The only common feature of all the wildflower honeys is the crystallization that almost always occurs over a few weeks.

Chestnut honey is a dark, slightly reddish colour. It has a strong, slightly bitter, sharp taste and is rich in minerals, particularly iron. It is very good for convalescents, anaemic people and athletes.

Acacia honey is lighter in colour, ranging from white to straw-yellow and is characterized by a high percentage of fructose. Its flavour is particularly delicate and it is known as a honey that never solidifies, due to the absence of crystallization processes.

Sunflower honey is a bright, intense yellow, with a slightly herbal flavour that tends to disappear and become more delicate after crystallization. It is excellent for soothing an irritating cough in the upper respiratory tract. It is a typical summer honey, containing all the radiance of the plant and of the season.

Sulla (French honeysuckle) honey is a springtime honey, similar to acacia honey in taste and in colour.

Sanfoin honey has a delicate, very pleasant flavour but is now considered very rare, because sanfoin is used as fodder for livestock and cultivations have been abandoned almost everywhere.

Lastly, honeydew honey is generally dark, sometimes almost black, with undertones ranging from reddish to ebony and it rarely crystalizes. Honeydew is a secretion that comes from flower sap and is rich in sugary substances. It is extracted by aphids and expelled in the form of droplets, which are then collected by bees and transformed into honey.

There are numerous types of honeydew honey. The most abundant one in Umbria is that of oak, which has a strong flavour and is brown in colour, tending towards ebony.

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