Honey is a sweet substance made by bees using nectar from flowers. Composed of more than 80% carbohydrates, it is a food rich in energy
In fact, there are mainly two sugars: fructose and glucose, two simple sugars which do not require digestion before their absorption and which are easily and directly assimilated by the body.
Characteristics of honey:
-Rich in calories;
-Rich in carbohydrates;
-Source of potassium;
-Rich in antioxidants.
4 benefits of honey: why eat it?
Prebiotics are carbohydrates which cannot be assimilated by our body and which play a role in the balance of the intestinal microflora. Honey may have a prebiotic effect on the human body by improving the growth, activity and viability of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli from the intestinal microflora, bacteria important for good health.
Honey is a food source of antioxidants.
The majority of these antioxidants are flavonoids. These interact in the neutralization of free radicals in the body, thus preventing the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and certain neurodegenerative diseases.
The amount and type of flavonoids found in honey vary depending on the floral source. Generally, the darkest honey, such as those from sunflower and buckwheat, contain higher amounts of flavonoids than paler honey, as well as greater antioxidant capacity.
Moreover, for the same quantity, honey has an antioxidant power equivalent to that of the majority of fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, it is rare that we consume the same amount of vegetables/fruits and honey.
Certain characteristics of honey such as its low pH, its high viscosity which limits the dissolution of oxygen and its low protein concentration give it an important antibacterial effect. Moreover, the possibility of preventing and treating certain minor gastrointestinal ailments such as inflammation or a gastric ulcer by oral administration of honey is not excluded.
Indeed, the latter would decrease the adhesion of the bacterial cells to the epithelial cells of the intestine which would prevent the bacteria from fixing and proliferating, in addition to taking advantage of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Honey contains substantially the same amount of sugar or calories as the other sweetening agents (white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup) but due to its higher sweetening power, it is an interesting choice because it is consumed in lower quantities Also, as this one has a lower glycemic index, it remains a wiser choice for people with diabetes.
Choosing the right honey
In many countries, the designation “honey” is regulated: it is an entirely natural food, to which nothing should be added, no additives, no preservatives, no syrup, etc. In Canada, the label must bear the name of the country of production, the quality (Canada No. 1, 2 or 3) and the floral origin (clover, wildflowers, buckwheat, etc.).
Note: the crystallization of honey is not an indication of deterioration. Many factors can cause this phenomenon. To restore its fluidity, simply heat it slowly, which will have the effect of “melting” the crystals.
The different varieties of honey
You can find dozens of varieties of honey today. If the best known are based on acacia, clover, alfalfa, wildflowers, blueberry, goldenrod, apple or buckwheat, speciality products are increasing: linden, berry sabal, thyme, lavender, rosemary, Vosges fir, aster, avocado, sage, bramble, raspberry, canola, cranberry, cotton, dandelion, eucalyptus, mint, pumpkin, rosemary, safflower, soy, vinegar, sunflower, orange, chestnut, etc.
How to store honey
At room temperature: 18 ° C to 24 ° C, a year or two. Honey can be kept at higher temperatures for short periods, but in case of prolonged heat, it is best to put it in the refrigerator. Above all, avoid keeping it near a heat source and ensure that the container is always tightly closed.
In the fridge: Unpasteurized honey should be stored at around 10 ° C, or even in the fridge, as it is more likely to ferment.
How to cook it? How to match it?
Honey can replace sugar in all culinary preparations. Indeed, a cup of white sugar can be replaced by ¾ cup of honey. Here are some suggestions:
in bread, cake, muffin, pancake, waffle, etc .;
in shakes, infusions, coffee, tea, etc .;
in morning cereals, or on yoghurt topped with fresh fruit;
in salads and fruit compotes;
in sorbets, ice cream, frozen yoghurt;
add a spoonful of honey to dip sauces or marinades;
add to salad dressings. Serve, for example, a balsamic vinegar, olive oil and mustard sauce over a watercress salad, thin slices of sweet onion and orange wedges.
Oriental salad: mix young spinach with a julienne of white radish and carrots, and sprouted beans. Drizzle with a dressing of oil, rice vinegar and honey, garnished with dry roasted sesame seeds, grated ginger and garlic, and, if desired, hot pepper.
Mix nuts, hazelnuts or other oilseeds with honey, a little butter, cinnamon and orange zest, and roast in the oven.
Glaze small onions, carrot slices, pepper strips, etc., first fry in butter or oil until soft and then add honey and a little vinegar.
Finish cooking over high heat, stirring well.
Or sauté vegetables (Chinese cabbage, carrot, green onion, snow peas, shiitake mushroom) in sesame oil; when cooked, but still firm, add soy sauce with honey.
Grill sweet corn and cover with a mixture of softened butter (125 ml) and honey (75 ml) seasoned with hot pepper powder. Serve with lime wedges.
Cut the flesh of cooked squash into cubes and place in a gratin dish. Mix honey (60 ml) and chopped nuts (60 ml) with a few spoonfuls of butter and raisins, pour over the squash and cook for 10 to 15 minutes in an oven set to 240 ° C (465 ° F).
Cook parsnips in water, drain, cut into sticks and place in a baking dish. Coat with a mixture of equal parts of water and honey and cook for ten minutes in an oven set to 175 ° C (350 ° F).
Grill vegetables or vegetables (potatoes, red and green peppers, zucchini, eggplant and onions) in the oven or barbecue, coating them with honey, a little white wine and seasoned with minced garlic and thyme.
Add a spoonful or two of honey to borscht, gazpacho, squash or carrot soup, or cold fruit soup.
Hommos with honey, garlic and cumin: mix in a chickpea mixer (cooked) with lemon juice, honey, garlic, cumin powder, cayenne pepper and coriander or chopped parsley. Serve with pita bread.
Cranberry Orange Salsa: Cranberry blender with orange, orange zest, hot pepper, ginger, coriander and parsley in a food processor. Add orange juice concentrate and honey, mix. Serve with the poultry of your choice.
Tomato chutney: squeeze tomatoes to remove as much juice as possible. Reserve the juice for another use. Dice the tomatoes and cook them for about an hour over low heat with honey, basil and cloves. Cool before serving.
Mix about 175 ml of sugar-free peanut butter with 125 ml of honey and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Serve as a spread on bread.
Grilled fish in the honey sauce: mix equal parts water, lemon juice and white wine and put on fire; add a little cornstarch, chopped garlic, lemon zest and the herbs of your choice (tarragon, thyme, parsley, basil) and cook until the sauce thickens. Keep warm. Grill fish fillets and serve with the sauce.
Brown chicken breasts in oil and keep warm. Sauté garlic and onion, add a can of crushed tomatoes, white wine (about 125 ml), honey (about 90 ml), thyme and tarragon, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the chicken and pitted black olives to the sauce, cook for a few minutes and serve.
Tagine of poultry or fish: brown the pieces of poultry or fish, put them in a tagine dish (or another terracotta dish), coat with honey (about 60 ml) and lemon juice, add minced onion and garlic, a cinnamon stick and turmeric. Cover with dried apricots previously soaked in water cover and put for two hours in an oven set to 175 ° C (350 ° F). Serve over rice.
Honey is also the basic element of mead, a drink obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of honey with the addition of water.
Risk of infant botulism
Honey is the only known food in Canada that can cause childhood botulism. Botulism in children is a rare disease caused by the ingestion of spores from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
Because the intestinal microbial flora of a child under one year of age is immature, it does not allow it to digest these spores fast enough to prevent germination. This germination in the intestine allows the production of a neurotoxin which causes various symptoms up to the death of the child.
Clostridium botulinum spores are likely to be transported by bees that come into contact with them in the air, dust and soil. Unfortunately, the pasteurization treatment applied to honey does not allow their destruction and therefore does not prevent cases of infant botulism.
Honey and alcohol go well together?
The simultaneous consumption of honey and alcohol helps reduce the effects of the latter. A study carried out in 2005 in healthy young men reveals that the concomitant consumption of alcohol and honey would increase the rate of disappearance of ethanol in the blood by an increase in its elimination rate by almost 30%.
This faster elimination of ethanol would reduce the time of intoxication of the human body, the time required to reach a zero value of alcohol in the blood, but above all would reduce the intensity of the symptoms caused by this intoxication about 5%. Still, moderation tastes much better!
History of honey
The term “honey”, which appeared in the language in the 10th century, comes from the Latin mel.
Honey is one of those foods that you cannot imagine has not always existed. Long before humans learned to make tools or build beehives, they collected honey from the wild, usually in hollow trunks, but also under mossy rocks, or even in small pits dug out of the ground. ground.
This food has accompanied the oldest civilizations in their evolution and, from time immemorial, a rich symbolism has been attached to it, including that of being the substance of the gods. Sumerians and Babylonians used it in their religious rituals, while the Egyptians embalmed their dead. For the Hebrews, the promised land was that where milk and honey flowed.
Dear, jujube honey!
So are honey-like perfumes. Their price can vary considerably depending on their place of production, the properties assigned to them, the type of bee producer, the plant foraged and the abundance of the harvest.
Thus, in France, honey from the Vosges fir is considered to be the ultimate. But the most expensive honey in the world would be that of wild jujube, produced in Yemen. The craze it arouses is due to its aphrodisiac properties and its rarity.
According to cultures, honey is elixir of long life, food of food, drink of drinks, medicine of medicines, and it has been lent many medicinal properties. It was also used to store food.
Thus in the 5th century, the historian Herodotus writes that the Greeks going to hunt the pheasant, in what is today Georgia, immersed them in amphorae filled with honey for the return journey.
The bee, which appeared on Earth 80 million years ago, was just as revered as the honey it makes: “messenger of the gods”, “acolyte of the Great Goddess”, “insect that rubs shoulders with God”, “Sunlight”, no qualifier was excessive to describe this insect which belongs to the family of the Apidae and whose most widespread species in beekeeping is Apis mellifera, for which we know four main races and many local ecotypes.
However, the honey bee is not the only one to produce honey. In America, before its introduction by European colonists in the 17th century, the South American Indians bred for this purpose the small mellophone (Meliponis spp.), Which is characterized by its absence of sting and by the particular flavour of its honey.
Ecology and environment
Einstein is credited with the following sentence: “If the bee were to disappear from the surface of the globe, humanity would have only a few years to live. ”
Besides the honey they produce, bees play an important role in agriculture since they are essential to the pollination of many plants with which they have evolved over the millennia.
Lemons, oranges, almonds, apples, zucchini, cucumbers, melons, watermelons would not exist without them. As an indication, their contribution to the GDP of the United States is estimated at 15 billion dollars, honey representing only a tiny part of this amount. However, these essential insects that were once seen everywhere – in pastures, forests, gardens – are increasingly rare. So that producers now have to pay for the services of a beekeeper, who will sometimes come from far away, to ensure the pollination of their crops.
This is the case of California, which provides two-thirds of the world production of almonds, and where bees die en masse, victims among other things of varroa, a mite which feeds on their blood.
This parasite is the first cause of death of Apis mellifera in the world. Native to Southeast Asia, it only appeared in the United States in 1987, and until very recently, its proliferation was limited with the help of pesticides.
Unfortunately, it has developed resistance to the two main pesticides authorized on the market. During the almond blossom season, California must, therefore, import Florida hives at a high price.
In Europe, the Varroa mite, which arrived in 1982, appears to be under control. French specialists who follow the evolution of the American epidemic wonder if the difficulties in this country are not due, above all, to the absence of genetic diversity in their livestock. “By subjecting bee imports to very strict conditions, writes an INRA researcher, by pushing the selection very far, they are depriving themselves of biodiversity that would, however, promote resistance to parasites, because increasing diversity, c ‘is to increase the probability of finding a genetic mixture capable of allowing the bee to adapt. ”
Moreover, in many countries of the world, beekeepers are rediscovering their local bees, whose ecotypes are highly diverse. Often more resistant to diseases than imported bees, they are also better adapted to the climatic conditions of the region, be it drought, cold, humidity, etc.
Their only fault is that they are generally less productive so that their honey commands a higher price.