5 things you didn't know about honey
We know a good thing when we see it. Helping the bees AND producing rich, flavoursome honey? That’s Pearly Queen Honey’s mission. Their golden jars come from a collective of urban beekeepers who protect bees while educating about these incredible creatures. We spoke to Meetal Patel, behind the London-based project, for some facts.
1. It never goes off
People read the best before date and throw it away, but honey never actually goes off. They've found honey in Egyptian caves that is still edible!
2. There are so many benefits
Royal honey, which isn’t treated or blended, contains trace elements of pollen and naturally occurring bacteria and the combination is like a vaccine - it gets your body used to very small doses of pollen so it can help prevent hayfever. With its antibacterial qualities, honey can help heal cuts. It’s also the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water, and contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
3. Urban honey can have more flavour
Urban honey is very rich and varied in flavour, especially from a city as big as London where people grow plants from all over the world in parks and gardens. Different flavours come from certain flowers; the variety really adds to it. In a rural environment, there are more native British species so you won’t get the rich flavour that you’d get in urban areas.
4. Runny vs set
Runny honey is heated and cooled multiple times to break the naturally occurring bond between the sugar molecules so it doesn’t start to crystallise. It also kills a lot of the naturally occurring pollen so the honey becomes glorified sugar syrup without a lot of the natural properties.
With sustainable beekeeping, you can only harvest honey from the beehive once a year, towards the end of summer. Continuing to harvest is irresponsible - beekeepers must leave sufficient quantities for the bees over winter.
Mass-produced honey is the equivalent of battery farming hens. The problem we hear about bees’ declining population is partly down to the intensive way in which they’re farmed and the hives transported around the country for pollination. It’s an intensive process to produce that quantity of cheap honey.
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