Sugars/Sweeteners Part 5 Honey Please!

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Source of graphic www.sugar.org

How Honey is Made:

Honey starts as flower nectar, which is collected by bees, naturally broken down into simple sugars and stored in honeycombs. The design of the honeycomb, and with constant fanning by the bees’ wings, evaporation to takes place, creating the thick, sweet liquid we know as honey.

The color and flavor of honey varies from hive to hive based on the type of flower nectar collected by the bees.

Honey has trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.

Wikipedia’s Definition :

a sugary food substance produced and stored by certain social hymenopteran insects. It is produced from the sugary secretions of plants or insects, such as floral nectar or aphid honeydew, through regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. The variety of honey produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the most well-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption.

My Definition:

Slightly Dehydrated Bee Regurgitation

Believed Benefits of Honey:
1. Helps prevent cancer and heart disease:
Honey contains flavonoids, antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.

2. Reduces ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders:
Recent research shows that honey treatment may help disorders such as ulcers and bacterial gastroenteritis. This may be related to the 3rd benefit…

3. Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal:
“All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide”. This contributes to the incredibly long shelf-life of honey.

4. Increases athletic performance:
Ancient Olympic athletes ate honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners.

5. Reduces cough and throat irritation:
Honey helps with coughs, particularly buckwheat honey. In a study of 110 children, a single dose of buckwheat honey was just as effective as a single dose of dextromethorphan in relieving nocturnal cough and allowing proper sleep.

6. Balances the 5 elements:
Honey is referred as “Yogavahi” since it has a quality of penetrating the deepest tissues of the body. When honey is used with other herbal preparations, it enhances the medicinal qualities of those preparations and also helps them to reach the deeper tissues.

It is also said to be useful in improving eyesight, weight loss, curing impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea and nausea.

7. Helps regulate blood sugar:
Even though honey contains simple sugars, it is not the same as white sugar or artificial sweeteners. Its exact combination of fructose and glucose actually helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Some honeys have a low hypoglycemic index, so they don’t jolt your blood sugar.

8. Heals wounds and burns:
External application of honey has been shown to be as effective as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazene. It is speculated that the drying effect of the simple sugars and honey’s anti-bacterial nature combine to create this effect.

9. Is probiotic:
Some varieties of honey possess large amounts of friendly bacteria.

10. Helps improve skin:
Its anti-bacterial qualities are particularly useful for the skin, and, when used with the other ingredients, honey can also be moisturizing and nourishing.

Varities of Honey:

There are over 300 varieties of Honey in the United States alone.  The following are just a few:

Alfalfa Alfalfa is a legume with blue flowers. It blooms throughout the summer and is ranked as the most important honey plant in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and most of the western states. Alfalfa honey is white or extra light amber in color with a fine flavor. The honey makes a perfect table honey for everyday use.

Avocado Avocado honey is gathered from California avocado blossoms. Avocado honey is dark in color, with a rich, buttery taste. It is wonderful in dressings and sauces.

Basswood This tree is distributed from Southern Canada, to Alabama, to Texas, and is the product of blossoms from the Basswood tree. Basswood honey is often characterized by its distinctive biting flavor. The honey is water-white with a strong flavor that works well in many recipes.

Blueberry Taken from the tiny white flowers of the blueberry bush, the nectar makes a honey which is typically light amber or amber in color and with a full, well-rounded flavor. Blueberry honey is produced in New England and in Michigan. Many people believe that Blueberry honey is honey to which Blueberry flavor is added; this is not so. Pure Blueberry honey is the result of bees gathering nectar from the Blueberry bush. It has wonderful applications in sauces and baked goods.

 

Buckwheat Buckwheat plants grow best in cool, moist climates. The buckwheat plant prefers light and well-drained soils, although it can thrive in highly acid, low fertility soils as well. Buckwheat is usually planted in the spring or is found growing wild. It blooms quite early and it yields a dark brown honey of strong, distinct flavor. Buckwheat has excellent application for BBQ sauces and baked goods.

 

Clover Clover honey is what most people think of as being typical honey flavor and color. It is widely used “on the table.” Despite being the most common nectar producing honey plant, Clover honey is still a variety. White clover, alsike clover, and the white and yellow sweet clover plants are the most important for honey production. Depending on location and source, Clover honey varies in color from water-white to extra light amber and has a mild, delicate flavor. (There are a few different varieties of Clover – look on Honey Locator for White Dutch Clover, Sweet Clover, White Sweet Clover and Red Clover).

 

Eucalyptus Eucalyptus is one of the larger plant genera with over 500 distinct species and many hybrids. Eucalyptus honey varies greatly in color and flavor, but in general, it tends to be a bold-flavored honey with a slightly medicinal aftertaste. It may be used in baked goods, sauces, dressings.

 

Fireweed Fireweed honey is very light, or “water white” in color and comes from a perennial herb that affords wonderful bee pasture in the Northern and Pacific states and Canada. Fireweed grows in the open woods, reaching a height of three to five feet and spikes attractive pinkish flowers. It is delightfully sweet, and wonderful in dessert applications.

 

Manuka a small tree with aromatic leaves which are sometimes used for tea, native to New Zealand and Tasmania.

 

Orange Blossom Orange Blossom honey may be a single variety, but often it is a combination of citrus floral sources from Oranges and nearby Grapefruit or even Lime and Lemon trees. Orange is a leading honey source in southern Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. Orange trees bloom in March and April and produce a white to extra light amber honey with a distinctive flavor and the aroma of orange blossoms. It is savored the world over on the table for everyday use, or in cakes and cookies.

 

Sage Sage honey can come from many different species of the sage plant. Sage shrubs usually grow along the California coast and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Sage honey has a mild, delicate flavor. It is generally white or water-white in color. It is quite sweet in flavor, and pairs extremely well with strong cheeses.

Sourwood Despite its name, the Sourwood tree, found in the Appalachian Mountains from Southern Pennsylvania to Northern Georgia, has a sweet, spicy, anise aroma and flavor. The honey has been highly valued for table use or in a myriad of cooking applications such as glazes. It is said to have a wonderful lingering aftertaste.

 

Tulip Poplar The tulip poplar is a magnificent, breathtaking, tall tree with large greenish-yellow flowers that are unforgettable when viewed. It generally blooms in the month of May. Tulip Poplar honey is produced from southern New England to southern Michigan and south to the Gulf states east of the Mississippi. The honey is dark amber in color, however, its flavor is not as strong as one would expect from a dark honey. It has many applications in baking and cooking.

 

Tupelo Tupelo honey is produced in the southeastern United States. Tupelo trees have clusters of greenish flowers, which later develop into soft, berrylike fruits. In southern Georgia and northwestern Florida, tupelo is a leading honey plant, producing tons of white or extra light amber honey in April and May. The honey has a mild, pleasant flavor and will not granulate. The Tupelo tree has been designated as being on the “Ark of Taste,” those plants and animals that are endangered and that must be protected.

 

Wildflower a flower of an uncultivated variety or a flower growing freely without human intervention.

Types of Honey:

Comb honey is taken directly from the hive beeswax comb, just as it is stored by the bees.
Liquid honey is prepared by cutting the wax cappings and processing the combs in a honey extractor. The centrifugal force removes the honey from the cells.

Granulated honey is a powdered form of honey that is made by drying or freezing the honey in order to draw out the water.

Creamed honey is a blend of one part granulated honey and nine parts liquid honey that is stored at about 57 degrees until it becomes firm.

Chunk honey is comb honey stored in a jar with liquid honey poured over it.

Raw vs. Pasteurized Honey

Honey is also categorized as either raw, which means it has not been pasteurized, or processed honey, which has been heated and strained to kill bacteria such as botulism.

Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes not present in refined honey.

 

Sources of Information:

https://www.honey.com/honey-at-home/learn-about-honey/how-honey-is-made/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-honey.html

Sugars/Sweeteners Part 2 (Sugar Alcohols)

Foods that are labeled “sugar-free” use sugar alcohols for sweetness and have fewer calories than table sugar (white sugar). They also have fewer carbohydrates, therefore may have a lower glycemic number than table sugar.

Sugar Alcohol is neither a sugar nor an alcoholic beverage.

Examples of sugar alcohol are:

Erythritol

made from plant sugars, it is fermented, filtered, allowed to crystallize, and then dried. It either looks like granulated white sugar or a powder.

Glycerol (also known as glycerin or glycerine)

syrupy colorless, odorless, liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic. Used in medicine.

Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates

derived from corn starch, potato starch or wheat. Similar to Sorbitol.

Isomalt

made from beets, hydrogenated, looks like table sugar. Natural laxative.

Lactitol

derived from lactose (milk sugar), made by DuPont

Maltitol

hydrogenated corn syrup

Mannitol & Sorbitol

isolate of the mountain ash berry (genus Sorbus), diuretic, baby laxative, naturally found in some fruits, oral enema, thickener and moisturizer in beauty products (soaps, moisture’s, etc.).

Xylitol

found in birch trees (wood) and several kinds of fruit and vegetables (mainly corn cobs). Looks like white sugar.

Sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect or other gastric issues in some people. As I mentioned in my Xylitol Blog Post (March 8th), your body can only digest so much when it comes to sugar alcohols. It is best for adults to consume 50g or less per day. Our bodies treat sugar alcohols as fiber, not carbohydrates. Diarrhea and flatulence are the most common issues.

Photo by myself, Jean E. King.  Sweetener section at local Natural Grocers Store.